HOLLAND — Whenever West Ottawa's boys lacrosse team took the field this season, they were liable to light up the scoreboard.
They had a well-rounded team on defense, in the midfield and especially on the attack. Their two lead goal scorers, senior Trent Mulder and junior Cole Tulgestke, combined for 112 goals and 81 assists. Both players also earned first-team all-confrence honors and wrapped up the season by taking home honorable mention all-state accolades. Because of their formidable presence with the ball at the end of their sticks, the dynamic duo has been named Holland Sentinel co- Boys Lacrosse Players of the Year.
Tulgestke and Mulder are both similar players with skill sets that mirror each other. They're both quick, can make defenders miss, have pinpoint accuracy and have multiple different shots to keep goalies on their toes. But according to coach Rick Becker, the junior is the quarterback of the offense.
In just his second season of high school lacrosse, he led the team in assists with 52 and matched that number in goals as well. Mulder, who switched positions from midfield to attack this season, led the team in goals with 60 on the year and added 29 assists as well. Both of the players know that without the other one, they don't have this type of success, though.
"It's great playing with Cole, we're both players that can do everything on the field whether that's shooting or passing," Mulder said. "The defense has to look at us and slide, so if they double one of us, the other one is going to get shots off, if they don't double us, it's a goal more likely than not."
Mulder has been a wonderful presence to help Tulgestke develop his game. The senior took the junior under his wing a bit early on in the season and helped the younger player learn how to be dynamic with the ball in his stick.
Tulgestke, who is also the starting quarterback for the Panthers football team, said that everything Mulder taught him made his game so much better. He learned some specific shots around the net that make life miserable for the opposing netminder.
"I learned a ton from his step-down shot, it's a heck of a move," Tulgestke said. "I learned so much from him off his bounce shot, he's just such a great guy to play with.":
One of the core reasons the two found so much success together was because neither of them was ever trying to be the star player. They knew that the entire Panthers roster was capable of scoring in the attacking zone and they had another all-state honorable mention player in the midfield with junior Caden Adkins.
Because nobody was trying to take over and be in the spotlight more than anybody else, they were able to share their success and just play loose and free. Neither of the guys ever felt too much pressure, because if one of them was having an off night, odds are the other one was picking up the slack and powering the offense on that particular night.
"They know that we're better together, even if one is not quite at his best, then the other is going to be," Becker said. "I think that's part of it, they trust each other and they know they can count on each other."
Mulder has walked across the stage at West Ottawa and has played his final game for the Panthers. That connection the dynamic duo has won't be there on the lacrosse field anymore when the 2023 season rolls around.
Still, even though he'll be watching from afar now instead of right next to him, Mulder knows Tulgestke will develop and take the world by storm next season.
"As a junior right now, he's already great, but as a senior next year, he's going to be scary," Mulder said.
This article originally appeared on The Holland Sentinel: Mulder, Tulgestke are Sentinel's co- Boys Lacrosse Player of the Year