PEABODY — A good goalkeeper is the foundation of any good lacrosse team, and the Bishop Fenwick boys lacrosse team is no different. The Crusaders are off to a 6-0 start this year, and it’s no coincidence that their goalie, Garrett Ruszkowski, is leading the way both on and off the field.
“We have really good chemistry as a team and we’ve been having really good practices since the first day,” said Ruszkowski, a senior from Saugus. “We also have a lot of depth, so even though we’ve had some injuries we’ve been able to overcome them. Everyone has been playing really well so far this year.”
The hot start was highlighted by a marquee win against Catholic Central League rival Austin Prep, a game in which Ruszkowski had 20 saves and one assist — including seven saves in the fourth quarter. It was the first time the Fenwick boys had beaten Austin Prep since 2016.
“Garrett and the other captains really took it upon themselves to buy into the program’s philosophy and really put the work in this offseason,” said Fenwick coach Steve Driscoll. “Garrett is like the quarterback of our defense, and he’s been a huge part of our success so far.”
It’s high praise for a player who has only just recently started to really see his potential as a lacrosse player. A multi-sport athlete for most of his life, Ruszkowski decided after his sophomore year to turn his focus fully to lacrosse. The decision has paid off, as Ruszkowski became the full-time starter in his junior season and has improved greatly as a goalkeeper.
“He’s made tremendous strides in both his technique and his leadership skills,” said Driscoll, who has coached Ruszkowski since he was a freshman. “He did a lot of camps and played club lacrosse in the offseason and he just continues to get better. He’s really just starting to realize how good of a player he can be.”
Ruszkowski’s great junior season put him on the radar of college lacrosse programs, and he eventually committed to play at Maine Maritime over the winter. It’s a place where Ruszkowski, a sailor and a true lover of the water, will certainly be comfortable.
“I love the water, and I’ve sailed there before,” Ruszkowski said of Maine Maritime. “I actually was recruited to sail there as well, so now I’ll be able to play two sports there and it’s really exciting.”
Driscoll shared a similar notion. Given Ruszkowski’s interests, Driscoll’s confident he’ll fit in well at Maine Maritime.
“Garrett’s always been a Maritime kind of kid,” said Driscoll. “He’s been interested in (Maine Maritime) for awhile, and they came after him pretty hard in recruiting, so it’s good that it worked out. He’ll excel there.”
But before that, there’s the rest of Ruszkowski’s senior season to play. A 6-0 start has put the Crusaders in a prime position to make a state tournament run later this spring, and it’s going to take a lot more hard work to keep up this level of play. The Crusaders have qualified for the Division 3 North tournament over the past two seasons but both runs were short lived.
“We’re in a good spot and we keep improving,” Ruszkowski said. “We have a lot of young guys on defense, so I try to help them continue to learn and keep pushing them. We just have to continue to bring the same level of intensity as we have all year, and we have to keep playing like we’re 0-0. We just have to keep that mentality and keep working hard out there.”
Fenwick plays Wednesday (4) on the road at CCL foe Archbishop Williams.