Yorktown, Lakeland/Panas Ousted in Sectional Semis
Town of Yorktown Bereft of Titles for 1st Time Since 2006
SHRUB OAK — Every time Yorktown High clotted the bleeding, John Jay gashed them in a different spot. Every time Yorktown pulled within a goal, after digging a 3-0 hole it never got out of, John Jay would reel off two, and sometimes, three-straight goals, zapping the life out of Coach Sean Carney’s Huskers, en route to a 10-8 Section 1 Class B championship win last Wednesday at Lakeland High.
“It was deflating because it killed all that momentum we had,” Carney said. “You go from what could be a tie game to a two or three goal disadvantage again, so it’s tough on the kids because they fought back so hard. There is no silver lining here. The kids worked hard, they’re hard-working kids and they know what it means to put that Yorktown jersey on. They’ll never disrespect the jersey once they put it on.
“But like I told you in the beginning of the year this is one of the best John Jay teams they’ve ever had,” Carney added. “Easily, in the top two I’ve ever seen in the 18 years that I’ve been coaching here. They played like it today and their kids made plays, so our hats are off to them and we wish them good luck in the state tournament.”
What John Jay did was pull off a rare defeat of Yorktown in a championship setting, doing so for just the second time since 2006, a fact the Indians are well aware, having gone 0-6 against the Huskers in the previous seven years.
“They’re the best program in the history of the section, so to beat them is really special,” said John Jay Coach Tim Schurr, a former champion at Yorktown himself. “Their kids never give up and our kids, well, they left it on the field today. I think you mentioned to me back in April that this team seemed mentally and physically tougher than the John Jay teams of previous years, and you couldn’t be more right. We are a tougher bunch, both mentally and physically, and that enabled us to beat one of the best programs in the country.”
In doing so, the Indians (15-4) advanced to the NYSPHSAA regional final against Section 2 winner Ballston Spa last Saturday at Lakeland High School, and in taking home a commanding 15-4 win, John Jay advanced to the NYS Final 4 to face Long Island power Garden City in a 4 p.m. NYSPHSAA semifinal on Wednesday at Adelphi University.
The Indians ended an eight-year losing streak against the seven-time defending champs back on April 6, hanging on for a one-goal win, which fueled hope for a successful playoff run at Jay and planted a seed of doubt at Yorktown, which struggled mightily against the Indians’ zone defense.
“Their zone defense hurt us a little bit,” Carney admitted. “Our shots weren’t falling like they could. Their goalie (Shahe Katchadourian) was making saves, and once they got in that zone we needed to hit a couple of shots to get them out of it. Then, their goalie made some saves, we hit some pipes and it gives them more confidence in the zone.”
Jay’s initial run began when game MVP Sean Nolan (twice) and Bryce Ford scored the first three goals for the Indians, for a 3-0 lead they never relinquished. Husker Tim O’Callaghan got Yorktown on the board at 8:30 of the second quarter to stop the initial bleeding, but Jay’s Max Kesecki scored the first of his two goals, answering within the next minute.
Shane Dahlke and Justin Comerford scored for Yorktown, trimming the deficit to one at 10:56 of the third. But the next gash was critical. John Jay reeled off three unanswered goals to build the lead back to four goals, at 7-3 with a shade under two minutes left in the third.
Clearly, Yorktown was pressing now, advancing to panic mode until the Embury boys finally began to tickle the twine. The 2018 All-American brothers has been blanked to that point, but they came out swinging in the fourth.
After Jay G Shahe Katchadourian took a bad penalty for hammering the head of Jamison Embury, Hunter Embury retaliated with two quick pops, cutting the lead to 7-5 and drawing a rise from The Crop, Yorktown’s faithful, in the stands. It looked like Yorktown was ready to steal a late victory when Michael Minard — on the fly with 6:37 to play — cut the Huskers again for an 8-5 lead. Jamison Embury and Hunter Embury picked the Huskers up off the carpet one last time, each finding the back of the net and making it a one-goal game with 4:15 left.
But perhaps the game’s most important tally was scored next, coming off a sensational dodge from Indian junior Dean Ford with 3:22 left, as he shed two or three stick checks to beat Husker G Louis Ragusa for the back-breaker and a 9-7 lead.
Jay continued to maintain possession for much of the final three minutes and All-American Bryce Ford made them pay with another John Jay goal for a 10-7 lead with 2:38 left.
Jay’s zone defense posed fits for the second time this season, as the Huskers could never get on a winning run.
Carney admitted he was stung by the championship setback, just Yorktown’s fourth since 1997.
“This is miserable,” he said. “This is going to hurt me every single day until we get back here next year. We can’t have this happen.”
What can’t happen again is a year in which both former seven-time defending champion Yorktown and LAKELAND/PANAS relinquish their titles as it was in 2018, making this the first year since 2006 that the Town of Yorktown went without a title.
Lakeland/Panas was seeking its first three-peat since 1991, but Coach Jim Lindsay’s Rebels fell victim to resurgent Mamaroneck, falling 16-9 in the Class A title tilt at home last Thursday. The youthful seventh-seeded Rebels (8-11) hung around for three quarters before the top-seeded Tigers (15-4) went ballistic in the fourth quarter, breaking open a 12-9 game with 7:18 to play behind seven goals from Will Martin and five from Tom Conley (two assists) for the Tigers’ fourth sectional title since 2012. Mamo’ was eliminated in the regional final against Section 2 champion Niskayuna in a whale of a game last Saturday.
Every time L/P made a run, the Tigers responded in kind.
Steve Magarelli and Alex Davoli (2G) scored in the second quarter to make it a 6-4, but Conley killed the Rebel impetus when scored eight seconds before halftime. Goals by Mercy-bound A Jo-Jo Janavey (4G) and Davoli cut the deficit to three in the fourth, but the Tigers reeled off four unanswered goals to seal the deal.
“They are a very good team,” Janavey said of the Tigers. “It was a great accomplishment and a true testament to this team to get this far, but the goal wasn’t to lose in the championship. The expectation of the program is to play for and win the section title every year.”
The Rebs gained the necessary experience to challenge against next year, but three-peating in Class A is something only Yorktown (2007-‘09) and Mahopac (2000-’02) have been able to do since Lakeland did so in 1991. But Mahopac, once the envy of Class A program from 1992-2004 (8 Class A crowns), has just one title since 2005, that coming in 2011. It was special to see the third-seeded Indians and Rebels compete in the sectional semis this spring, but the goals should be clear: Restore the old guard and challenge each other for the Class A crown in 2019.
“I was proud of our kids for the resiliency they showed and putting together a run at the right time of the year,” said Coach Lindsay, who is truly developing into one of the best in the Section 1 business. “I thought Mamaroneck was the better team today, and I could have done a better job getting our kids ready to compete on that stage. That being said, I was extremely proud of the development of this team from start to finish, and a lot of that credit goes to the senior class for remaining positive and maintaining a high level of leadership for the younger kids even when things weren’t going our way. There’s certainly talent returning and coming up the line, but we’ll have to continue to put in the work if we expect to return to the finals again next year.”
Ray has 33 years experience covering and photographing local sports in Westchester and Putnam counties, including everything from Little League/Travel Baseball to varsity high school prep sports and collegiate coverage. He has been a sports editor at Examiner Media since its inception in 2007.