For Half Hollow Hills West boys lacrosse, the present and future were both on display in Saturday's season opening win.
Senior goalie Erik Mikelinich made 21 saves, while freshman Cameron Mulé scored three goals and had an assist in his first varsity regular season game to lead Hills West to a 6-4 non-league win at Baldwin.
"It feels great to be a part of this team," said Mikelinich, the team captain who will be playing for Vassar next season. "I think everyone played their hearts out today, and we got a great team win."
"He wants it bad this year," Hills West (1-0) coach Nils Haugen said of Mikelinich. "He's a great captain and a great leader. He's everything as a coach you'd want to have be the face of your program."
Mikelinich saved 13 of the 14 shots on target he faced during the first half, helping the Colts take a 2-1 lead into the break.
Mulé kicked off the scoring during the first quarter.
"I knew I had to prove myself to my teammates, my coaches and everybody watching," said Mulé, who played on junior varsity and played one playoff game for the varsity team last season. "I'm just proud of the way I played."
Baldwin (1-1) made the score 2-2 during the third period thanks to a Jared Warner goal, before Hills West went on a 3-0 run with goals from Justin Cerniello, Ryan Ozsvath, and Mulé.
Cerniello added two assists, including a pinpoint pass that found an open Mulé at the far post during the fourth quarter.
"It was a fast break, and I didn't think anyone was gonna be open at first," said Cerniello. "I looked through and he was there."
While it looked as though Hills West would cruise to victory, Jesse Nolan and Warner both scored fourth-quarter goals for Baldwin to cut the lead to 5-4.
With 2:57 remaining, the Colts were able to breathe easy again, with Mulé scoring to complete his hat trick off of Michael McCarthy's second assist of the game.
"He has every skill that's necessary to play his position," Haugen said of Mulé. "He's incredibly smart and he has a great desire to play well."
Tyler Warner, Jared's brother and Baldwin's Yale-bound attacker, followed up a six-goal game in Tuesday's season opener with a second-quarter goal Saturday.
Hills West also got a spark from Patrick Leone, who went 8-for-13 on faceoffs.
With veterans like Mikelinich, Hills West has reason for optimism about this season. With Mulé in the fold, the optimism could extend even further.