Springfield lacrosse players Mason Harmatiuk and Rylan Pats are no strangers to athletic success. The pair, who’ve been friends for 12 years, won a Division 2 high school football title with the Sabres last September, capping off an undefeated season that saw the second-year expansion program move up from Division 3 after the first game.
Now, they’re making their mark in LAX. The Sabres are currently 6-1 on the year, sitting in second place in the six-team Division 2 standings. Just like on the football field, the pair have assumed leadership roles with Springfield, combining their diverse skill-sets to help the Oakbank-based squad.
Harmatiuk is a nine-year veteran of lacrosse, who’ll represent his province in box this summer. It’ll be his third time donning the black and gold. The versatile attacker – who scored three goals in the team’s most recent game – sets the tone on offence with his leadership, vision and IQ. It’s fitting for a player who started as a sophomore at quarterback for the Sabres, and who does anything that’s asked of him.
“I started off as a wide receiver. I played four games and then the quarterback got hurt,” he noted of his roots on the gridiron prior to high school.
“The coach asked who knew the playbook and had a good IQ. My parents suggested I try and I’ve been a quarterback ever since. I’ve always been a big fan of transferable skills through sports and football and lacrosse go hand in hand. It’s the footwork and the speed that really makes me click.”
While Harmatiuk is the offensive general, Pats is the shutdown defender. A safety on the gridiron, he loves to lay the boom down and is a vocal leader, despite never playing the sport until this season.
“Mason’s like ‘you want to come out and try lacrosse and play d-pole?’ I’m like absolutely. I love the culture out here. It’s got a mixture of hockey and football and we’ve got a great team right now,” he noted.
“I actually found out I was going to be a lacrosse captain because there were only three d-poles. I love it. I think I’m doing okay. I don’t know if I’m the best skill-wise, but I definitely get my voice around there. The bus rides I think are my favourite part. Getting everyone fired up.”
The Sabres will make their 2022 pigskin debut this Friday when they take on Sisler in spring action, and both Harmatiuk and Pats will be captains. It’ll be the next chapter in what’s been an exciting journey for the close comrades.
“Growing up he played lacrosse and I only played soccer and then it transferred to both of us playing some football. Just this year he’s like ‘ you want to come play some lacrosse?’ Twelve years of bonding, we talk about it all the time,” reflected Pats. “In football he’s the offensive captain, I’m one of the defensive captains. It’s honestly pretty interesting.”
“There’s definitely some chemistry and lacrosse is definitely about getting everybody together,” added Harmatiuk. “You don’t have to be the best with the stick, as long as you can find something that you like out here, that can be your position.”