Pickerington North Roundup: New era begins for Panthers boys lacrosse team

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
Junior attacker Bennet Trout is part of a large group of returnees for the North boys lacrosse team. "Our juniors and seniors have been playing together for what seems like forever," coach Kurt Restuccio said.

Kurt Restuccio entered his first season as Pickerington North boys lacrosse coach impressed with several aspects of his team’s play, but one might have stood out above the rest.

“Their respect for one another and lax IQ as a group is the best I've seen in my five years with the program,” Restuccio said. “Our strength is found in our unity this year, hands down. It’s allowed our leaders to be effective and chemistry as a team to shine. Our juniors and seniors have been playing together for what seems like forever.”

Several seniors who started or saw considerable time in 2019 return, including Reid Bender (defender), Justin Cook (midfielder/attacker), Ryan Mack (midfielder), Lucas Schneider (attacker), Kalib Severt (midfielder), Connor Shook (midfielder) and Josh Smith (goalie).

Cook is a Chatham recruit.

Smith, who made 123 saves as a sophomore, will split time in goal with classmate Tyler Wade as the Panthers seek their first winning season since going 11-8-1 in 2016.

“There's plenty that we need to improve on from two years ago. Our coaching staff and players have been focused and working diligently to improve since last year,” Restuccio said. “We (also) have got some excellent underclassman talent who came up over the past year and are eager to show what they’ve got.”

Restuccio, who was hired in October 2019 to succeed Tyler Nelson, was junior varsity coach in 2018 and 2019 and previously had coached at Lakeview Junior High and in Westerville schools. Restuccio is a fifth- and sixth-grade visual arts teacher at Diley and Harmon middle schools.

North lost 136 of its 157 goals from 2019 to graduation over the past two years. Severt had eight goals and Mack had six as sophomores.

Other returnees from 2019 include juniors Blake Bennett (midfielder), Nathanial Brown (long-stick midfielder/defender), Braeden Coleman (defender), Brogan Khan (long-stick midfielder/defender) and Bennet Trout (attacker).

INSIDE THE PANTHERS

Coach: Kurt Restuccio, first season

Next game: April 6, at Pickerington Central

Key athletes: Reid Bender, Justin Cook, Ryan Mack, Kalib Severt and Josh Smith

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave