Attacker is a position on the lacrosse field and also serves as an apt description of Pine-Richland High School senior Connor Mincer.
Collisions aren’t a problem, or even an outcome to be avoided.
That attitude has made Mincer a fullback and linebacker on the Rams football team the past three seasons.
In lacrosse, the four-year starter remains a constant threat to shoot from outside, or roll inside and split the defense.
Mincer will be one of several players to watch when the Rams play host to Seneca Valley at 8 p.m. Wednesday in a WPIAL game with playoff impact televised by Armstrong Cable.
Mincer has 27 goals this season and over 60 career scores since making the varsity as a freshman, but he knows Pine-Richland (5-4) will have its hands full against Seneca Valley (2-1), one of the WPIAL’s top programs. The Raiders already have defeated Shady Side Academy and Fox Chapel.
“You never know what’s going to happen, but it’s going to be a real big game,” Mincer said.
At a compact but agile 5-foot-9 and 205 pounds, Mincer is a handful with the ball locked on his stick, but might be even more dangerous when he takes a pass in the crease.
“There’s not a defenseman in the league that is going to knock him down and keep him down, because he’ll keep running right at them,” Pine-Richland coach Jim Vollberg said. “It’s a physical sport and these guys pride themselves on being tough.”
After scoring four lacrosse goals against Central Catholic, six against Fox Chapel and five at Shady Side Academy this season, Mincer attacks big games and challenges.
“Football is more aggressive because it’s hit, hit, hit,” Mincer said. “But in lacrosse, you need to be more mentally smart in everything you’re doing out there. Both are really hard games.”
Said Vollberg, “Conner has a good head on his shoulders as far as lacrosse and other sports, and he’s been on the field for three years in football and since he was a freshman in lacrosse. He’s a treat anywhere on the field.”
Vollberg said Mincer also serves as a coach on the field, someone who handles problems before there’s a need for a timeout.
Pine-Richland has had a rocky season so far, full of overtime highs and lows. It started with an opening overtime victory over lacrosse power Central Catholic that propelled the Rams to a 5-1 start, but slowed with last Thursday’s 10-9 double-overtime loss at Shady Side Academy.
As a result of the double-OT loss, Pine-Richland must score back-to-back victories over Seneca Valley and North Allegheny to make the playoffs. Pine-Richland also might get some help from Franklin Regional (against Seneca Valley) coming down the stretch, but it’s not likely.
“Basically, if we don’t beat Seneca Valley, it’s going to be really hard for us to get into the playoffs,” Mincer said in his usual straight-forward style. “The key for us is to just come in and play our game.”
There’s no getting around the rivalry aspect of the matchup against Seneca Valley.
“When two schools are that close to each other, and the boys all know each other from travel teams and summer league, sure, they’re still friends,” Vollberg said. “But once they get on the field it’s Pine-Richland vs. Seneca Valley. So that’s going to be a pretty big game for us.”
Last season, Seneca Valley’s senior-driven team broke it open in the second half and won by a 16-4 margin in a game that was 5-3 at halftime.
Vollberg, who is in his second year coaching the Pine-Richland boys lacrosse team, has stressed a blue-collar work ethic since the day he arrived.
“We come out and work for everything we get,” he said. “That’s all we ask, that they work hard. And they do.”
Mincer said he’s currently considering continuing his lacrosse career at LaRoche College in McCandless or Seton Hill University in Greensburg.
Mincer said he started playing lacrosse in sixth grade because he thought it was not just fast, but “cool.”
“It’s a very fast sport, but everybody else wants to play other sports,” he said. “Scoring goals is probably one of the neatest things you can do in lacrosse. The defense is all about hitting and stick-checks. And when you score that goal, the feeling is awesome.”