OHIO CITY, Oh - Senior captain Mitch Rini will continue his academic and lacrosse career at Lynn University, a Division II program in Boca Raton, Florida. The midfielder will be a focal point of the Wildcat offense in the upcoming spring season after gaining experience on the varsity level in his junior year.
"I decided I wanted to begin my career path for aviation, which limited the number of lacrosse schools I could look at," says Rini. "I began to look into Lynn University, I enjoyed the campus and the coaches and that became my number one choice."
What sets Rini apart from other midfielders is his understanding of the game. Rini can slow down the pace of a game and set up the offense. "Mitch is a special player. He's a smaller water-bug type athlete, but the ball ends up in the net. Beyond his finishing ability, what's the most underrated and "college ready" piece to Mitch is his IQ," explains Head Lacrosse Coach Kyle Bernlohr. "He understands how the game is played on both sides of the ball, so he's able to see plays develop a little quicker than most and can find the soft spots on the field to be the playmaker he is."
The class of 2022 showcased one of the best offenses the program has seen in its history. Rini saw time on the field with that decorated class as a junior and will look to fill a vital role in the offense. "The senior class from last season built the foundation of being dominate on the field from behind the goal; we lost that quarterback behind the net with Luciano (Yacavone) graduating," Rini explains. "I am going to fill that role this season. Taking the pace and controlling the possession."
"The on-field stuff speaks for itself with Mitch. You just know what you're going to get. His teammates think highly of him. He has outstanding God-given talent, but I think we've put way more focus on Mitch the leader over Mitch the goal-scorer during the off-season," Bernlohr says. "He's right on the cusp of putting it all together, and when he does, he will be a backbone for this 2023 Wildcat team."
Leadership is a theme that will be a focus of the upcoming season and Rini has begun to check those boxes during the off-season workouts. Over the last three years, Rini has continued to grow as a teammate and player and it is now all coming together as he was named a team captain for the 2023 season. "Developing my grit over the years has stuck out to me and being more dominant on the field," says Rini. "On the lacrosse field, you must have the mindset that you will win each match-up."
With his college decision coming before his senior season, Rini can relax, having to worry about what is next and turn his focus to the lacrosse field and his teammates. "The stress is off my shoulders; through high school, there is a worry of what the next step will be at the collegiate level," explains Rini. "It's a big weight off my shoulders, knowing I have a spot at the next level."
There is anticipation growing for the 2023 season, with the first game coming against Cathedral (IN) on March 17. With raw talent and a new head coach, the lacrosse program looks to have a dominating year in the state and coach Bernlohr expects a big year from Rini. I'm looking forward to him just being healthy and a leader. Having missed a ton of last year due to injury, I know he's fired up quietly," says Bernlohr. "When you have a guy who missed a ton of his season the year before, who was still voted as a captain by his peers, who other players trust on the field, all that together, you can just sense he knows there's a lot at stake, but at the same time he plays with a smile on his face and enjoys the heck out of it."
"I anticipate us being looked at as underdogs. We lost many offensive threats after last season," Rini says. "But other teams have no idea about the younger players stepping up this season; a lot is coming that they don't know about."
Before becoming a Fighting Knight in Florida with Lynn University, Rini and company will seek the program's first State Championship in 2023.