May 20, 2010

Bialosky: The Most Dangerous LSM in Town

by Jac Coyne | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff | Coyne Archive | Twitter

Alec Bialosky may not be popular among the Tufts offensive middies, but he has given the Jumbos a dangerous weapon in transition and on offense.
© Tufts Sports Info

It’s best not to ask Tufts offensive middies about Alec Bialosky.

Oh, they like their teammate, but Bialosky, a junior LSM for the Jumbos, has a tendency to take a bite out of their playing time.

When Tufts transitions from defense to offense, it’s usually via Bialosky, and he has a tendency to linger in the offensive zone while a middie stands in the substitution box, tapping his cleat on the grass with his arms crossed.

“I definitely try to do that, much to the offensive middies’ dismay,” said Bialosky about extending his stay. “They don’t like it too much, but I did all the work to get the ball down there, so I might has well take a shot at it.”

Bialosky is not trying to be a pain for his teammates, it’s just difficult to subjugate years of thinking like an attackman in just two seasons.

That’s how long Bialosky has played the long-stick midfielder position.

An attackman out of the Hawken School, located in Chesterland, Ohio, Bialosky followed in the footsteps of his brother, Daniel, who was a two-year starter at close defense for Tufts. The class that matriculated with Bialosky, however, was stacked at attack with the likes of current NESCAC Player of the Year D.J. Hessler and Ryan Molloy, leaving Bialosky way down the depth chart.

“His sophomore year, he literally made the team as an attackman just because he had outworked everyone in our program from top to bottom and we value that, and we appreciated that,” said Tufts head coach Mike Daly. “We said ‘Alec, you made the team and we love your work ethic, but we’d like you to change to long pole midfielder and help us out there.’ ‘No coach, I’m an attackman.’”

During a preseason scrimmage with Babson last year, the request finally turned into an order. With the defense down to five healthy poles and the start of the season right around the corner, Daly told Bialosky to grab a long pole and get out there at LSM. The sophomore grudgingly took his new tool and proceeded to make the collective coaching staff’s jaw drop.

Bialosky had found his new position.

“I was not terribly thrilled at first because I love attack, but it was worth it just to get on the field,” said Bialosky. “I realized that with such great players like D.J., Ryan and Sean [Kirwan], I probably wouldn’t start until senior year at best.”

Apprenticing under Tufts senior All-American LSM Jordan Yarboro last year, Bialosky became more and more comfortable with his new position. He has a big portion of the job description covered, but there are still aspects he needs to perfect. He covers a lot of the warts by flying around the field at full speed.

“The toughest part was really playing defense,” said Bialosky. “Once I got the ball in my stick transition was a breeze, it was just learning the defense and figuring out how to play one-on-one D without getting burned that was the toughest part. I’m still working on that. I’m definitely not the best defender and I know that, so I have to make up for it by going as hard as I can all the time and not take any plays off.”

Bialosky’s defense has been helped by going against dangerous offensive midfielder Matt Witko in practice – ironically, one of the players who has to wait for the LSM to arrive back at the bench – but surprisingly he hasn’t been able to get much help from his brother. Because Danny is bigger and stronger than Alec, much of his tips don’t apply. The younger brother has to find his own tricks using speed.

What the Jumbos may lose on defense with Bialosky, they easily make up for in transition and on the offensive end. And Daly doesn’t mind it if Bialosky – who has seven goals (on 11 shots) and five assists, good for ninth on the team in points – wants to linger a little bit longer in the attack zone than the awaiting middies would like.

“We don’t put anything on him. If he wants to stay out there longer, he can,” said Daly. “If he’s on offense, we’re excited about it. Most of his goals don’t come in transition when he walks in on the goal. Usually he’s dodging someone up top.”

“I don’t even realize I have a long pole in my hand; I’m always looking to score,” said Bialosky, who says he shoots harder than he ever has with the extra torque of the added pole length. “Sometimes it’s easier because most times defenders are just waving at your big stick and don’t bother playing good defense. They just think, ‘Oh, you’re a stupid pole, I’ll just take the ball.’ It kind of makes my life easier.”

“When you see him dodging from ‘X,’ it’s pretty wild to watch,” added Daly.

So if you see a Tufts LSM anxiously awaiting a pass for a 15-yard rip well after the Jumbos have settled into their offense against Cortland on Saturday in the NCAA semifinals, you’ll know it’s Alec Bialosky.

You’ll also know that somewhere on the Jumbos' sideline, an offensive middie shakes his head.

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