Zoulias makes point of feeding the Owls Basketball smarts pay off in lacrosse

May 06, 1993|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,Contributing Writer

Jim Zoulias knows what a good point guard should do.

That's understandable because Jim's father, Nick, coaches the Western Maryland College men's basketball team. And Jim Zoulias plays the role of point guard very well . . .

. . . for the Westminster boys lacrosse team.

Zoulias directs the potent Westminster attack, as the Owls rebound from a tough 1992 season. A senior attackman, he handed out 19 assists through the first eight games as Westminster went 7-1.

Westminster has posted impressive numbers on offense. The Owls, for example, scored 17, 17 and 14 goals in their sixth, seventh and eighth games, respectively.

Zoulias is a big reason for that.

A 5-foot-8, 130-pound senior, he directs the offense with all the poise of a basketball point guard.

He reads the defense, puts his team in the right offense and makes sure the team runs the right plays.

It sounds like a simple task, but complications abound.

"I've never given a kid that much freedom," said Westminster coach Jim Peters. "He's got the expertise and leadership ability."

Peters lets Zoulias run the show on the field. He gives Zoulias a variety of options for a variety of situations. Zoulias is the team's play-setter.

"I like it," Zoulias said. "I like trying to make decisions. When we start to move the ball, we play our best lacrosse."

An example of that came when the Owls played host to Liberty on Friday night.

Westminster looked a bit sluggish in the first quarter and into the second. The Owls could not seem to execute their plays and get the offense to click. They led only 1-0 about three minutes into the second quarter.

Zoulias helped settle down the offense, and good things started to happen. He aided in setting up two goals in 67 seconds for a 4-0 lead as Westminster took a 6-1 halftime advantage.

There was more of the same in the second half. The senior hooked up with fellow attackman Chris Ahrens twice within 98 seconds, Zoulias scoring on the first play and Ahrens on the second.

Zoulias did what he does best, often directing the team's offense while working from behind the cage. Although Westminster can be most dangerous in unsettled situations, Zoulias helped the team run up big numbers in settled situations.

"He knows what he's doing," said John Bolesta, the team's top scorer, with 31 goals and nine assists after eight games. "He doesn't make too many mistakes." Zoulias found success ever since taking up lacrosse in the sixth grade. He had been playing basketball for a while and stuck with both for the next few years.

During his freshman and sophomore years at Westminster, Zoulias played both. But eventually he dropped basketball and concentrated on lacrosse, which he enjoyed more.

It was not an easy decision, especially with a father who coaches college basketball. But Nick Zoulias supported his son all the way.

"I figured it was time to start concentrating on [lacrosse]," said Jim Zoulias. "It was one of the hardest decisions. I like the game [of basketball], but my career ended my sophomore year."

And his lacrosse career was just beginning. Peters admits to wondering about Zoulias' size -- the attackman was not even 100 pounds when he started high school -- but those doubts are long gone.

"Every second he's on the field, he's going at it as hard he can," Peters said. "Kids hate to cover him in practice."

Zoulias hopes to continue with lacrosse in college. He is set to attend Navy, where he may major in naval architecture or ocean engineering.

Next year, Zoulias probably will play club ball for Navy and try to bulk up while shooting for a chance at the varsity during his sophomore year.

"Everyone looks up to him," Bolesta said. "He does a really good

job. He's always doing everything as hard as he possibly can. I really respect him for that."

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