Yorktown, L/P Leads Loaded Class B, Briarcliff Heads Class C
By Ray Gallagher, Examiner Sports Editor @Directrays
& Rob DiAntonio @RJD_photos
After more than a 700-day pause due to COVID-19, one can put the usual suspects in the lacrosse title-contending basket because that’s where they all belong: Class B Yorktown, Mahopac, John Jay CR, Rye and Lakeland/Panas will have at it in the most competitive class; Briarcliff looks like a sure bet in Class C if the Bears play their cards right, Class D’s Bronxville and Pleasantville could be on a collision course, plus Class A’s Mamaroneck, which just might breeze to a title with Lakeland/Panas and Mahopac dropping down to Class B in 2021.
Class B lax is sure to draw the attention of most Section 1 fanatics, and many coaches are touting YORKTOWN, the 40-time Section 1 champions, as the favorites, despite the Huskers having lost the last two title tilts to reigning champion John Jay. The long-awaited arrival of Husker junior and Fairfield commit Harry Griff, who was injured his freshman year, and Air Force signee G Adam Norris, are just two of the prime time reasons Yorktown is in the mix, despite losing All-American Duke-commit Keith Boyer (torn labrum) to a season-long injury.
“Norris is a stud,” Yorktown Coach Sean Carney said. “We have a very good offense with a lot of players there in the mix. Our D is young but very good, and our goalie is special.”
Griff, the ultimate dual-threat attackman with elite feeding and dodging ability can also finish. And there are whispers that Norris is among the top Yorktown goalies of the past decade. His brother, Spencer, a skilled middie, will join him at the Air Force academy.
Carney’s Huskers were on pause and forced to cancel the season opener against Hen Hud last week but are on track to open Thursday at Wappingers where the likes of Dylan Beck and Will Embury, both captains with Boyer and Adam Norris, are on a mission to win the Huskers’ first Section 1 title since in 2017, which is an eternity for the Yorktown lax fraternity, a brotherhood unlike any other in the section.
The Yorktown midfield is loaded and might be the ticket that provides a ride to the sectional finals. Seniors Evan Makar, Brendan Regan and Brendan Doller will be a handful to contend with.
LAKELAND/PANAS is not to be slept on this season, just ask SOMERS, which hung around for a quarter before the Rebels unleashed the fury of Conor Hufnagel (5G, 3A) and Reed Thompson (5G), who combined for 13 points in an 18-6 season-opening win over the visiting Tuskers. Rebels Nick Graap (1G, 3A), Liam Burke (2G, 2A), Tyler Nocito (2G, 1A), Justin Stabile (2G, 1A) and Auggie Kocaj (1G) all found the scoring sheet for a unit that will put up some big numbers this season when given the chance.
Siena-bound senior D Mark Cummins leads a stout defense, which, if it reaches its potential, could be one of the last two teams standings when the sectionals roll up in late May.
“Definitely, all the guys are itching to get better and you saw it on Saturday,” Cummins said. “There’s something different about this team. We’re all playing with a chip on our shoulders, like we have something to prove, and I love it. Expect us to make some noise early in June.”
MAHOPAC Coach John Bota has a tremendous mix of senior leaders to go with an up-and-coming group of underclassmen, many of which found their niche in a 9-8 season-opening win over visiting Somers last Thursday.
Mahopac sophomore Jake Degnan had a nose for the net since he toiled at backyard Fourth of July parties as a fifth-grader, and his varsity debut was more of the same when he went for three goals, including two in the pivotal fourth quarter, to go with one assist.
The Indians went up 9-6 when Degnan sprung free for a pair in the fourth and then hung on in the final minutes. Army-bound junior M Mike Harney and Mike Rettberg each added two goals and two assists for the Indians as Bota, a former Indian great and sectional champ in 2012, notched the first career victory of his career.
Junior M Chris Evans won 13 for 20 on faceoffs for the tribe and senior LSM John Nolan wrought havoc, creating four turnovers while junior pole Sean Massett scooped six ground balls and kept Somers hotshot T.J. Deagan (1G) under wraps.
Tuskers Nick Newman, Zach Nyikos and Lorenzo Sessa each scored twice for the Tuskers, and Henry Ellison (1G) gave the Tuskers life with 90 seconds to play, cutting the deficit to one.
In Saturday’s 13-5 loss to reigning Class A champ Mamaroneck, Harney scored twice for the Indians and G Brett Crecco stopped 20 shots.
“Agreed, Mamaroneck is on another level,” Bota admitted. “I think Class B could be very interesting, a lot of good teams, but I think we can compete and get to semis and give ourselves a shot to compete in that section title game with the right matchups. It’s going to take some maturing from our underclassman. Our offense is very young but talented. I am confident in their capabilities. We set lofty goals to accomplish greatness here.”
FOX LANE started off 2-0 and the defense locked down in a pair of 9-2 wins over Wappingers (Thursday) and Harrison (Saturday).
“I’m extremely happy with our defensive play, considering it was a big question mark coming into the season,” Foxes Coach Craig Henley said. “Everyone on the defensive side of the ball is a first-year varsity player after last year was cancelled, so they’ve had a bunch of catching up to do. It’s a small roster but the entire team practices hard and encourages each other. That has boosted our learning process. The kids are very receptive to coaching and are helping each other along the way. A very fun group to be around.”
Jack Cicchelli led the Foxes with four goals in the win over Harrison. Will Shepherd added two goals while Everett Banks, Jacob Wollman and Dan Leader also scored. Banks paced the squad with four goals against Harrison in a game where five different Foxes scored.
The Foxes have a big test against powerhouse Pleasantville on Thursday at 5 p.m.
“The good start is a great reward for their effort at practice, but everyone realizes we have to improve in all aspects,” Henley said. “I’m just happy that these kids are able to have a season, especially because they seem to be such a tight-knit group.”
BYRAM HILLS blanked host BREWSTER 15-0 in the Bobcats’ season opener on Thursday. Benny Rakower (3 goals, 4 assists) and Hayden Fruhling (3 goals, 3 assists) led the offense.
“Brewster played us in a zone which allowed us to be shooters,” said Fruhling, a senior who is coming off a section championship in football where he led the team at quarterback. “We played an unselfish game and moved the ball at a pace which allowed us to find weaknesses in the zone. Overall, it was a great game and it proved that we have some young guys with a lot of talent on both ends of the field.”
Bobcats freshman goalie Jack Quinn picked up the shutout in his first career start in net.
“We played a really strong game defensively,” Fruhling said. “Jack Quinn has been extremely vocal with the defense and the communication they have had has allowed them to play as one and work through any of the offenses success. We played an aggressive and physical game and didn’t allow Brewster to gain any momentum.”
PUTNAM VALLEY saw Jack Murphy bag a career-high five goals and dish three assists in an 18-9 win over Dobbs Ferry. Ethan Mounier added four goals and three assists and Ryan Denike tallied four more goals to go with one assist. Rangy senior Garrett Leitmann finished with two goals and two assists for Putnam Valley, which failed to put its best foot forward in a 15-5 loss to Pleasantville. Mounier had two goals and one assist for the Tigers, who got one goal apiece from Hayden Gumbrecht, Murphy and Denike. The Tigers should post a fair amount of wins within their league this season with Croton, Haldane, North Salem and Pawling serving as their foes, but getting back to the elite, championship level of 2004-10 seems unlikely. A league title, though, is there for the take.
PLEASANTVILLE exploded for 51 goals in three wins over Dobbs Ferry, PUTNAM VALLEY and HALDANE to begin the 2021 season. Panthers junior Ryan Challice scored a staggering 19 of those goals.
“The key to the strong start came from offseason preparation,” Pleasantville senior Brennan McDermott said. “We’ve been having practices or games as a team twice a week since September. Therefore the shortened preseason didn’t have too much of an effect on us because we’re already used to playing with each other.”
McDermott netted seven goals and had an assist in a 20-10 win over visiting Dobbs Ferry to kick off the season last Wednesday. Challice notched five goals and three assists. John Keating and Nick Bates tallied two goals each. Kieran Cotter won 22 of 30 face-offs.
“Our offense has been scoring a lot of goals because of quick ball movement in transition and success clearing the ball,” McDermott said.
Two days later, the Panthers disposed of host Putnam Valley, 15-5. With the game tied 2-2, Pleasantville went on a 5-0 run to take a 7-2 lead into halftime. McDermott was a passing machine with nine assists and added three goals while Challice scored seven goals and had an assist. Bates added two goals while Ryan Raefski stopped 14 shots in net. Ethan Mounier led PV with two goals and an assist.
In Pleasantville’s 16-2 rout of host Haldane on Saturday, Challice sparked the attack with seven goals and two assists. Bates (3 goals, 1 assist) and McDermott (1 goal, 4 assists) also contributed for the Panthers, who built an 11-1 halftime lead. P.J. Ruggiero and Evan Giachinta scored for Haldane.
The Panthers endured a heartbreaking overtime loss to rival Briarcliff in the Section 1 Class D championship game in 2019 then had to go through the cancellation of the 2020 season due to COVID-19.
“It means everything to our whole team that we finally get the chance to get back on the field,” McDermott said. “The whole Class of 2021 has been working toward this season since June of 2019.”
WHITE PLAINS (2-1) kicked off the season with wins over Ardsley and Clarkstown South. The Tigers bounced back from a 12-2 loss to host Pelham on Thursday with a nail biting 5-4 victory over visiting Clarkstown South on Saturday.
“It was a huge deal to us coming out of our loss a few days before,” White Plains junior goalie Nicolas Spista said. “We kept fighting every quarter and wanted to improve upon our mistakes from the prior game. I was able to see the amount of heart everyone had in order to come out with the win.”
Colin Walsh netted three goals for White Plains to spark the offense. Spista made nine saves in net and even scored a goal and dished out an assist. Jake Strobel added one goal while Nick Armogida passed for two assists.
“The key defensively was to just be in a position to always help the guy next to you,” Spista said of holding South to just four goals. “The defense played their leverage very well which kept them to only shooting from the outside.”
Spista made 14 saves in the loss to the Pelicans.
“I thought the kids responded well after losing to Pelham and getting ready to play against South,” Tigers coach Mark Armogida said. “A big part of our defensive effort was winning face-offs and playing solid defense. We gave up two goals on broken clears and another on a man up, so other than that we were solid. The South goalie played really well and kept them in the game. We just need to finish more of our chances on offense and be less selfish. If we can do that our goal production will go up.”
Behind four goals and an assist from Ryan Ortiz, White Plains routed host Ardsley 12-2 last Tuesday in the Tigers’ opener. Matt Prout, Paola Medelius and Walsh tallied two goals and an assist each. Armogida, Ortiz, Medelius and Prout scored their first varsity goals. Jack Herman won 13 out of 14 face-offs.
“Being back on the field with the team after missing last season was an incredible experience,” Spista said. “Once things started to open up again, we took advantage of the opportunity during quarantine to compete against other teams which helped us in the long run. Competing all year round kept our bond strong and will continue to keep getting stronger as the season progresses.”
CARMEL saw the rise of freshman Matthew Risley, who pegged six goals in his varsity debut, a 15-9 win over Rye Neck Saturday. Can’t recollect many Carmel freshmen that ever went for a six pack in his initial foray, could be unchartered waters. Ram senior M Ryan McDonlad added three goals and set up another for a Carmel club that is loaded with freshmen talent.
KENNEDY PREP senior A Jack McInerney has 24 goals and 15 assists for 39 points through five games, an insane pace for Coach Vin Savastano’s Gaels (4-1). In his 31st year of coaching varsity lax, Savastano has reunited with former player Scott Berniker to form a great 1-2 punch.