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Huskers Nip Rebels to Retain Murphy Cup in OT, 29th time in 32 Years
By Ray Gallagher, Examiner Sports Editor @Directrays
We don’t know if it’s cyclical or an empire in the making, but what’s been going on down at Class D BRIARCLIFF the last three/four years is one of the most impressive turnarounds in Section 1 lax history #FromDormatsToCEO’s. If it’s just a cycle of good players, including All-American and All-Section talent the likes of which Briarcliff has never seen, then so be it, but I’m more inclined to believe Briarlciff Coach Al Meola is more bound to the emperor’s castle rather than some short-lived stay at the top after the state-ranked (No.2) host Bears dispatched 40-time Section 1 champion YORKTOWN, 12-4, last Thursday for the second time in two years, and second time ever.
It was unlike anything folks in these parts have ever imagined. Since the wee 80s, no team in Section 1 has demonstrated on Yorktown like the two-time defending champion Bears did. Briarcliff showed Yorktown-like instincts, Briarcliff displayed Yorktown-like intuition, Briarcliff chased down the 50-50 balls and had Yorktown’s number behind Brandon Raspoli (3G, 2A), Jack Ricciardi (4G, 1A) and a total team effort.
The giant B at midfield on the Bears’ turf looked as puffed out as it had ever been as Briarcliff poured it on in the fourth quarter, taking an 11-3 lead at 8:22 of the fourth when Rispoli found Jack Dineen in a deflating moment for a state-ranked (No.9) Class B Yorktown club that had gained major footing leading up to this massive test. The Bears piled on with another at 6:47 when Alex Kirshenbaum notched his hat trick for the final Bear tally, which ensured Briarcliff’s bearing upon the upper crust of Section 1 with additional wins over state-ranked (No.4) Class A Mamaroneck, Class A (No.3) Rye, Class D (No.6) Pleasantville and reigning Class A champion Scarsdale.
Yorktown (7-7), still the second-rated team among Section 1 teams in Class B this season, regained its composure to retain the coveted Murphy Cup after Saturday’s 6-5 win over visiting Lakeland/Panas, which took a 1-0 lead on a goal from Nic Connetta and kept it close after the first quarter, tied at one, and then again through halftime (3-2 Yorktown), but the Rebels (5-9) had little in their repertoire to contain Griff when push came to shove down the stretch.
The Rebels took a 5-4 lead with 8:30 to go when a lengthy possession concluded with a Thomas Kuney goal, but Griff responded to make it 5-5 with 4:13 to play and then worked the old hidden-ball trick with cagey Jack Duncan (1G), who sold the fake like a used car dealer, to work the ball out from behind the X for the game-winning goal in OT.
“During the timeout, our coaches decided to try the hidden-ball trick,” Duncan said. “Me and Harry have been practicing it a lot and we were confident that we could sell it. We need to go to work at practice this week, and I think this game will give us the motivation that we need to become the team we can be.”
Griff scored twice in the first quarter for a 2-1 lead and Duncan made it 3-1 Husker before L/P got it level early in the third quarter when Rebel Joe Alleva tied it at 3-all, preceding a second-quarter Nick Graap goal.
Rebel Chris Mac then cranked a feed off the X for a 4-3 L/P lead halfway through the third. It was short-lived, though, when Drew Weissman answered for Yorktown at 5:24 of the third to tie it, 4-4.
L/P, as well-coached as any team in the section, played a smart, tight zone defense despite battling a rash of injuries, so they sat in that zone effectively and made it tough on Yorktown to generate much of anything. If it weren’t for Yorktown senior M Jay Fastiggi (who won 13 of 15 faceoffs) the outcome would likely be different.
Lakeland/Panas was a goal short for the second year in a row, and has not won the Murphy Cup since 2010, leading to a 29-3 Yorktown edge in the coveted cup game.
Lakeland/Panas had better fortune earlier in during a 12-6 win over Wappingers where Alleva bagged a career-high six goals. Graap added a hat trick and one assist while Conetta and Michael Pisacreti added one goal and three helpers each.
MAHOPAC senior A Mike Harney put on a show in the Indians’ 10-2 win over HEN HUD Thursday. Army-bound Harney notched four goals and added an assist. Junior teammate Jake Degnan, a silky lefty, added a hat trick and one assist. Mike Rettberg (2G), Danny Koch (1G, 2A) John Kearney (2A) filled the stat sheet for the Indians (11-4). Sailor Scott Lupi scored both Sailors goals off assists from Thomas Popolizio. Mahopac’s stingy defense, which has allowed just seven goals over the last three wins, figured out a way to slow down Hen Hud’s Dean Hiltsley, who was held without a goal. Mahopac junior G Tommy Jacobellis has been a wall of late and All-Section senior pole Sean Massett has dudes on lockdown. The Indians were set to test their mettle in the regular-season finale last night against state-ranked (No.4) Class A Mamaroneck.
Degnan (3G) and Harney (1G, 3A) triggered a 7-3 win over visiting Arlington on Senior Night. Rettberg added a pair while senior M Chris Evans owned the draw box (13 for 14). Jacobellis made 10 saves, a couple of big ones when the Admirals tried to get on a run in the fourth. Since losing to Somers, the current No.4-seeded Indians (11-4) have reeled off six-straight wins but haven’t beaten the upper crust just yet, and anything less than a Final 4 run would be disappointing and won’t be easy with the likes of Somers, John Jay, Yorktown (all losses for Mahopac) and defending Class B champ Rye also vying for the final four spots.
“There’s been a culture shift,” said the Monmouth-bound Massett. “When you take those difficult losses, you have to adjust. We were in every game we played this year, never out of any game and never sat down to any opponent. Some teams just got the best of us. After that stretch, we had to reevaluate and set ourselves straight. We have been rolling for two weeks now. We understood we needed to get hot going into May and here we are.”
SOMERS saw its stock drop a bit last week as the Tuskers suffered a third-straight loss, including 6-4 setback to John Jay CR, which took home the League F title in the win. T.J. Olifiers and Henry Ellison scored two goals apiece for the current No.5 seeded Tuskers (10-4), who finish with a pair of tough tests against Lakeland/Panas and national power Greenwich (CT).
HEN HUD Junior M Dean Hiltsley continued his torrid tear last week doing so in a most impressive 10-9 win over LAKELAND/PANAS. Hiltsley dropped four goals and two assists for the Sailors, who overcame a 7-6 and closed on a 4-2 run for a rare win over the Rebels, their first since 2004. In his last five games (prior to a loss at Mahopac), Dean the Dream 22 goals and seven assists, before adding seven more in a 15-9 win over visiting CROTON Saturday.
Against L/P, Rocco Capicotti added three goals for Hen Hud and Thomas Popolizio finished with a goal and three assists. Sailor G Rowan Caffrey (11 saves) soaked two Rebel blasts to preserve the win. Senior A Nick Graap had three goals and one assist for Lakeland/Panas while Nic Connetta added two goals and two assists.
Celebrating Senior Night in the Dave Palmisano Memorial game, the Sailors took a 5-1 lead after the first before Croton had a great second quarter, but the Sailors were shot out of a cannon in the third and pulled away behind Hilsley (8 points), Popolizio (2G, 3A), Scott Lupi (4G), Capicotti (1G, 1A), Dylan Lennox (1G), Marty Stewart (1A), and Ryan Clark (1A).
Sailor G Joey Connolly needed five five saves for the win but was beaten by multi-scoring Noah Bovene (4G) and Mike McCarthy (2G).
Congratulations to PUTNAM VALLEY Coach Tim Weir who earned his 200th career win on his birthday in a 18-8 victory over Dobbs Ferry last Thursday. While the bulk of those wins came at Lakeland/Panas, including two sectional titles (1997-2003 and 3 more as an assistant to Coach Frank Vitolo), Weir is still grinding out wins on the PV sidelines, including seven in row for the surging Tigers (10-5), who are set to wrap up the regular season against a feisty HALDANE club (8-5), the current seven seed in Class D.
Tiger Andrew Dzubak led Put Valley with six goals and three assists, working in tandem with senior M Ryan Denike, who went for a team-best 10 points (5G, 5A).
The Tigers, the current No.5 seed in Class C, then drubbed Lourdes 18-4 for their seventh win in a row behind Dzubak (8G, 1A) and Denike (1G, 5A), who scored scored his 150th career point while Dzubak scored his 100th career point. The Tigers were set to play Haldane for the league championship Monday.
In BREWSTER’s 11-6 win over Lourdes, both Josh Walsh and Andrew Tyndall put three between the pipes while adding an assist on Senior Night at the Bears’ den. Luke Sanchez and Joe Anfuso each scored twice for the Bears (6-8 overall), the current No.11 seed, which will finish out the regular season with a pair of tough challenges from Carmel and Lakeland/Panas.
CLASS A CARMEL
CARMEL saw junior hotshot Matt Risley (3G, 4A) roast Ossining 15-1. Thomas Connolly added four goals and one assist for the Rams (8-5), the current No.5 seed. Carmel’s Jimmy Lyons (5 points) added a hat trick and Adam Boehiem tickled twine twice for the Rams, who were set to tango with Brewster last night before seeing Wappingers later in the week. A couple of wins might carry the Rams to a semifinal home game.
Boys’ lax coaches are encouraged to send game stats and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.