AT 6-3 and 210 pounds, La Salle High's Mitch Soufleris is tough to handle on the lacrosse field. Yesterday, the senior attacker used girth instead of guile as the Explorers started slowly but finished with alacrity en route to a 12-6 conquest of host Archbishop Wood.
With nimble feet and a rocket shot, Soufleris, who will attend the University of Rochester next season, scored two goals and added two assists yesterday mainly by backing down smaller defenders near the goal.
However, that was yesterday. Tonight, Soufleris and his derrière are planning a repeat performance on the dance floor at the La Salle High senior prom at Spring Mill Manor.
"I don't want to give away my moves!" Soufleris said, laughing. "We're going to have a good time. We have a big game next weekend so we have to be safe, but still have a good time."
The Explorers (10-6, 8-0 Catholic League) will play St. Augustine Preparatory School next Thursday followed by a Catholic League semifinal matchup next Friday.
Their PCL playoff opponent has yet to be determined but could be Archbishop Ryan or a rematch with Wood (9-3, 5-2).
Freshman attacker Christopher Hladczuk, the physical antithesis of Soufleris, led the Explorers with three goals. At 5-11 and 155 pounds, Hladczuk snuck behind the defense with 12.6 seconds left in the half and gave La Salle its first lead at 4-3.
Perhaps the slow start could be attributable to the Explorers' bus getting stuck in traffic and arriving about 15 minutes before the scheduled 3:45 p.m. contest, or, maybe having played six games since May 2.
"You can't really excuse it by saying we were tired," Soufleris said, "but I guess we didn't really get off the bus, running a little bit late and [Wood] always gives us a good game. We have a strong senior class and I think it kind of clicked with us that we might not have much longer."
Senior midfielder Trent Melsheimer added two goals while freshman attacker/middie Brett Baskin also contributed a pair, as La Salle outscored the Vikings, 8-3, in the second half. Junior attacker/middie Tom Cain scored twice for Wood.
Soufleris did his part with a pair of goals (another shot ricocheted off the goal post) scored while posting up like a basketball power forward.
"Yeah, I used to be a basketball player," he said, laughing. "I'm definitely not the speedy, run-by-you guy. I like to use my body and Coach [William Leahy] wants me to do that, too. I like to get to my left hand and use my body to create space . . . kind of like you're on the block."
He didn't play for the Explorers hoops team, but he did dabble in intramurals. Next year, he hopes to play lacrosse for the club team at Rochester, where his father, Pete, also played.
Size on the lacrosse field is great, but Soufleris also has valuable real estate upstairs. A 4.3-GPA student, Soufleris, who has taken 10 advanced placement classes in his 4 years at La Salle, has engineering on the brain.
"It's more like analytical thinking," he said. "I've taken English and history and they've never really been that interesting to me . . . In math and civics, you get to think a little bit more and use more problem solving."
No need to employ brain power for transportation to the prom, which Soufleris said is just 10 minutes from his home in Holland.
Before they arrive, a teammate or two, plus dates, will pile into a limousine for pictures at the Huntingdon Valley Country Club. And afterward?
"Oh, yeah," Soufleris said, "I'll be on the dance floor."