Friday’s editions included a Q&A with Stevenson junior defenseman Kyle Holechek. Due to space constraints, here are some additional answers from the Reisterstown native and Loyola graduate that did not make the cut.
Because the Mustangs have had a reputation for scoring goals, does it feel like the defense gets overlooked?
I don’t think we get overlooked. I think in the past two years, it’s kind of started to settle in a little bit more that it doesn’t always have to be all offense. I think the defense has gotten come recognition over the past two years. I don’t think we’re under the radar as much as we want to be. I kind of like flying under the radar a little bit, but it’s kind of hard to do that when you’re in the national championship game.
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Your bio on the team’s website only lists you playing your sophomore year at Stevenson. Where did you play as a freshman?
I went to Lehigh, and I stayed about a semester there. It wasn’t the best fit for me. The guys on the team were a little bit different breed than I was used to and weren’t really the Baltimore guys that I was looking for. I also had an ankle injury that I needed to take care of. I ended up having surgery when I went to CCBC-[Catonsville] for a little buffer time between Lehigh and Stevenson.
Before you committed to Lehigh, what other schools were recruiting you?
I’ve been an under-the-radar guy ever since I can remember. I didn’t really hit any sort of good peak in lacrosse until late in my junior year of high school. I started to talk to UMBC and Mount St. Mary’s. There were a few other schools that showed interest like Air Force and a few more schools along that line. But everything was pretty low-key for the most part. That’s why I went with Lehigh because that was a team – I mean, you saw what they’ve done in the past two years. They’ve won two Patriot League championships, and I couldn’t be happier for those guys. Some of those guys are still my good friends. But nothing really stands out. I tried to touch base with schools like Loyola and Maryland, but I guess they hadn’t seen enough from my high school days to really get a good picture of what I would be in college. But once I started to play at Lehigh and once I got here, it all started to come together.
Did you consider any other schools before committing to the Mustangs?
When I had my surgery, I was unsure what I was going to do. I was kind of really debating whether I wanted to keep playing lacrosse. My body was starting to take a toll already and it was only my freshman year. I was really unsure, but then Coach [Paul Cantabene] reached out to me over the summer. I was living down in Ocean City, and he reached out to me, and we talked every week pretty much throughout the whole summer. I wasn’t looking anywhere else. I think there were one or two schools that had found out that I was no longer playing at Lehigh, but other than that, no one else.
Do you ever how your career might have turned out if you had stayed with the Mountain Hawks?
I don’t really let myself think like that. Those guys have accomplished everything and more. I knew that when I went there that they had the capability to get to the Patriot League championship, but there’s no sour taste in my mouth. I still support my decision to leave there, and I think it’s better for me to look at that and support my own decision. I may not have been able to get to the Patriot League championship, but I’m going to the national championship in D-III, and in my mind, that’s a good decision on my part.
In 2012, you led the team in caused turnovers (54) and ground balls (79). How do you feel about your numbers this season?
I got the big stats last year, and I think that looking back on it, those stats meant absolutely nothing if you weren’t play on Memorial Day weekend. So this year was a time to – with a lot of the younger guys going in like [freshman goalkeeper] Dimitri [Pecunes] – really make sure that other guys were in the right places, getting [sophomore defenseman] Cal [Robinson] associated with everything, getting some of the lingo down with him. So I think there were some other focuses that I had this year other than chasing after caused turnovers and ground balls.
How would you describe the transition from playing in front of a three-year starter in Ian Bolland to a newcomer in Dimitri?
Ian did most of the playcalling, whatever that [assistant] coach [Tim] Puls was calling in to us. He kind of gave us what he wanted us to do. He was in control, he was the upperclassman. When we were going through the five or six goalies on the roster – any one of them could have been the starter this year – I really noticed that Dimitri was going to be our guy when he wasn’t afraid to tell me what to do. I liked that he was taking charge out there. We didn’t miss a beat. We had to get him acclimated to the way we play and to play in certain games.
Who is the toughest attackman you’ve had to guard in your career?
I think anytime we were playing Salisbury, any of those guys. Especially playing [Erik] Krum on the crease. He was a big, physical guy, and to have him on the crease and giving you a hard time and really bothering you, he did a good job of kind of taking your mind off the game and focusing on him a little bit. And he could get you a little angry. But he did a good job of making me into a better crease defender. I prefer to be on the crease a lot. I have no problem taking on a guy on the outside one-on-one, but that’s where I kind of feel at home, on the inside. So I have to give him credit because he could make you work. If you were sliding, he was creeping up behind you, and they were feeding him the ball. So he definitely made you think twice.