EVENTUALLY for Brandon Shima, it came down to logic and simple mathematics. But, when Haverford School lacrosse coach John Nostrant asked the junior attacker to become a midfielder, there was a moment of trepidation.
"I was a little iffy about it at first," Shima said, "but I think I adapted to it, and now I love the position."
At 5-9 and 155 pounds, he has a reason that requires little deduction: The less you go against big guys with long sticks, the better.
"Dodging against the shorties," Shima said, is his favorite part of the new gig. "Having someone that doesn't have a 6-foot pole in their hands makes it a lot easier to get some separation and get my hands free to shoot.
"You can dodge and try to get by them, but they'll still have that leverage on you, as opposed to a shortie, when all they can do is stay in front of you. If you beat them, you get your hands free."
Freedom came in bunches yesterday against Germantown Academy. The Fords triumphed, 12-3, after leading 10-1 at the half.
Junior middie Drew Supinski was the game's only two-goal scorer, while junior attacker Tucker McBride added a goal and two assists.
Sophomore midfielder Jimmy McAfee scored the Patriots' (7-8, 1-6) first goal with 3.2 seconds remaining in the half with a diving shot at point-blank range.
Shima didn't just beat the shorties when he tallied his only goal; he squirted by everyone and ripped a shot down the middle that gave the Fords (14-4, 7-1) an early 3-0 lead.
Quick feet, good hands and great vision; not hard to see why Shima will play lacrosse at Michigan. Not bad for a guy who barely saw the field last year.
"JV is still very competitive," he said. "I think going into this year I really wanted to go hard, so I worked hard in the offseason."
The move to middie this season wasn't without its bumps.
"It took a little bit [to get used to], because we played a really tough nonleague schedule, but I think playing those teams helped a lot with the transition," he said.
Playing on Duke's lacrosse club team in the summer after his freshman year and doing well at individual showcases circulated his name among college coaches. He currently plays for the Mesa Fresh club team and has a partial scholarship offer from Michigan.
Shima isn't sure what position he'll play for the Wolverines, but the Media resident still has time to build on his strengths.
"Passing and vision," he said. "I actually wasn't much of a shooter. I was pretty shy with it. That's one thing that I really tried to develop, because I used to be strictly a quarterback-type passer. I just had to realize that for playing at this level, and especially the next level at Michigan, being a one-trick pony isn't really gonna cut it."
Academically, Shima carries a 3.5 GPA and has an interest in business and marketing. But who knows, he seems a quick study. Brandon could be a doctor like his father, Lane, in no time. After all, he managed to parlay a collegiate career without hardly seeing the varsity field at the ultra-competitive Haverford School.
"Until this year, I didn't play a lick of varsity," Shima said, adding later, "I didn't really play at all."
La Salle and St. Joseph's Prep completed their suspended game yesterday, with La Salle winning, 7-6, to take over first place in the Catholic League, at 7-0 in league play, 7-5 overall. Zach Drake scored the eventual game-winner, with Steve Hudak on the assist. The Prep falls to 9-4, 6-1. The teams played to a 5-5 tie Thursday before lightning forced the game's suspension.