PDS Alum Shavel Finds Home at Midfield, Enjoys Solid Career for RPI Men’s Lacrosse
During his first two seasons with the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute men’s lacrosse team, Aaron Shavel struggled to find a rhythm at the college level.
“The game is a lot faster and the players are a lot bigger,” said Shavel, a former Princeton Day School star attacker.
“I had to be a lot quicker and more decisive, the big thing was the speed of everything. You have to refine your game. It took a while for me to grow into it; I was making a lot of turnovers.”
A coaching decision early in Shavel’s junior year changed the game for him.
“At the end of fall ball, the coach (Jim Townsend) talked to me; he said I wasn’t getting a lot of playing time but thought I could still be an asset to the team,” said Shavel.
“He said he wanted to move me to midfield. I hadn’t played that since middle school but I said anything to help the team and get on the field.”
Adjusting well to his new role, Shavel helped trigger the team’s offense in 2014, scoring 24 points on 17 goals and seven assists.
“I went from a second or third line attacker to first line midfield,” said Shavel.
“It was better for my skill set; I was able to get my hands free. I also got to play on the man-up unit. When you are on attack, you are on the field the whole time. As a midfielder, you are on for 30 seconds and then off for two minutes. Being on the man-up got me one or two more runs. I was on low left; I had a comfort level there and it helped me get a rhythm.”
Shavel displayed his new comfort level in a 9-8 overtime win at Clarkson in late March of his junior year.
“The big highlight was a game at Clarkson in Potsdam,” said Shavel. “I had a poor performance there as a freshman so it was a point of redemption for me. I scored a late goal to bring us within one. Our goalie scored to tie the game and then I scored in overtime to win the game and get a hat trick. I left that field feeling redemption.”
Coming into his senior campaign this spring, Shavel had a good feeling about the team.
“We had a strong junior year and we were returning a lot of talent, we had one of the highest ranked defenses and a lot of scorers,” said Shavel.
The Engineers went on to enjoy a strong campaign, going 10-5 overall and 4-3 in Liberty League play.
“We went undefeated against NESCAC (New England Small College Athletic Conference); we had some solid wins against top-20 and top-10 teams,” said Shavel, who tallied 12 goals and three assists in his final campaign to give him 50 points on 38 goals and 12 assists in his career.
“I think the most exciting game was Wesleyan. They won big against us junior year and wrote us off. We went there on a Tuesday evening and beat them in OT.”
Shavel and his classmates ended their careers on a high note, rolling to a 19-1 win over Bard in the season finale.
“The last game was senior day and a bunch of the seniors started,” recalled Shavel, who had an assist in the win. “It was great to make it through the four years with those guys with the turmoil, excitement and all the emotions.”
Reflecting on his career, Shavel said he had a great experience bonding with his teammates over the last four years.
“Unlike soccer or hockey, it is a big team,” said Shavel. “It is a team of 45 guys, there are a lot of different personalities so it is having patience and dealing with all of those personalities. One of the things that was so great was that all the players were down-to-earth guys. It was a hard working, blue collar team. It was a lot of fun to be out there with them.”
Shavel’s younger brother, Jacob, who just finished up a superb career with the PDS boys’ lax program, is going be one of those guys as he will be attending RPI this fall and joining the team.
“I had nothing to do with that, my parents wanted him to make the decision on his own,” said Shavel. “It is a testament to the program that he came in as an outsider and felt welcome.”
While Shavel may not have been involved in recruiting his brother, he welcomes the chance to stay connected to the program through his sibling.
“It is cool; I will be able to go up and see him play and see a lot of my friends at the same time,” said Shavel, noting that both his brother and he developed their love for the game by starting to play as kids with the Princeton Lacrosse Club. “Coach is already giving me grief about an alumni game on October 1.”
For Shavel, going up to RPI proved to be a good decision on and off the field.
“Part of the reason I liked RPI was that it is was a place where I could study civil engineering and play high level lacrosse,” said Shavel, who will be working in civil engineering for Judlau Contracting in New York City.
“It was a tough school. PDS prepared me well. It is great, there is a lot of support. It was fantastic to play for the team.”