A trying week for the Shenendehowa lacrosse team ended in spectacular fashion Saturday on the turf at Steuerward Stadium.
A strong comeback by Yorktown, big goals late by the Plainsmen and a bit of good fortune were all part of Shenendehowa’s emotional 12-11 victory.
“This group of guys is the best group I’ve played with. So much heart and chemistry,” senior
Brian Rogers said after the Plaismen knocked off Section I’s top-ranked team. “The way the guys didn’t give up is why we got the job done.”
Joe Romano scored on a stuff shot with 1.4 seconds left in regulation to tie it, and after Shenendehowa dodged a pair of overtime bullets, Rogers delivered the deciding goal as the Plainsmen avenged last year’s 20-11 defeat.
Romano’s second goal created the seventh tie, and Rogers’ fifth tally created the fourth lead change in a superb battle.
“We talk about 48 minutes of lacrosse. That’s our motto, play from the first whistle to the last,” said Shenendehowa coach Jason Gifford. “We’ve got kids who are hungry to make their mark. We’ve got kids who don’t quit.”
The win was the first official one for Gifford as Shenendehowa’s man in charge. Plainsmen head coach Chuck Holohan was suspended Monday after an allegation of verbal abuse against his players arose, and Holohan handed in his resignation Friday. Gifford, a varsity assistant with the program since 2010, had guided the team in Tuesday’s 14-12 loss to Niskayuna and in Thursday’s 17-7 triumph over Saratoga Springs.
“This is a huge win,” said Gifford. “This win is about kids. It’s about what they did today.”
“I couldn’t be more proud of our boys. I couldn’t be more proud of our coaches. We had a great team coming in from downstate, and Jason did a tremendous job of keeping them focused,” said Chris Culnan, Shenendehowa’s athletic director. “It’s been a difficult week for the kids and the coaches, and I couldn’t be prouder of the way they responded.”
“We had three big games to play this week,” said Rogers, a Le Moyne College-bound midfielder who had two assists to go with his five goals. “We had to focus on our games, control things we could control.”
Shenendehowa saw a 5-2 first-quarter lead turn into a 9-8 deficit entering the final period. Momentum swung back and forth over the final 12 minutes, with Rogers and D.J. Edick connecting for the Plainsmen before Brian Prestreau and Ryan Baker answered for Yorktown to make it 11-10.
“My nephew is on their team,” said Yorktown coach Dave Marr, referring to Plainsmen attackman Kyle Marr. “I knew about their [coaching] situation, but I didn’t tell my guys. I just told them they’re [Shenendehowa] going to give us a fight. The emotion of the game was more on their side.”
The game looked like it was going to go Yorktown’s way when Rogers fired over the cage with eight seconds left. Romano, though, bulled his way to the circle and jammed the ball past Cornhuskers’ netminder Austin Graham just before time expired.
“Romano understood the time. He understands he can be a beast to cover when he goes hard,” Gifford said of the 6-foot-2, 195-pound attackman. “That’s the most determination I’ve ever seen from that kid. That was a senior making a senior play.”
Shenendehowa goalie Ben Robbins made a foot save on a hard drive by Nick Mariano midway through overtime. Shenendehowa caught a break with just over a minute left when Connor Vercruysse banged a shot off the crossbar.
“Bad luck,” said Marr.
“Right when that kid shot and hit the crossbar, I knew we had to get the ball. I scooped it up, and out of the corner of my eye I saw coach waving for me to go. The original plan was to call a time out,” said Rogers. “I beat a guy and went low. It went right by his left foot.”
Rogers’ game-winner came with 59.8 seconds left in the OT. He notched two goals in a 5-0, first-quarter run, and scored a fastbreak goal late in the opening half, giving Shenendehowa a 7-6 lead.
“Brian started us off, and he finished it,” said Gifford. “The neat thing about his last goal is that he had been going with his right hand all day. He went left and beat a long pole, and accelerated down the alley.”
Romano and Edick both finished with two goals and an assist, Nick Arnold produced two goals and Robbins made 14 saves.
“We had excellent goalie play today. [Defenseman] Ian Greg and Tyler Olney owned their matchups, and [long pole midfielder] Brian Guiry flat out made plays,” said Gifford. “Those are the unsung heroes. They made stops when it counted. You’ve got to have kids that are tough.”
Prestreau, a Stony Brook-bound midfielder, led the Cornhuskers
(3-1) with five goals. Yorktown also beat Shenendehowa in 2011 (8-7), 2008 (16-3) and 2007 (10-7).
Yorktown 2 4 3 2 0 — 11
Shenendehowa 5 2 1 3 1 — 12
Yorktown scoring: Brian Presteeau 5-0, Connor Vercruysse 3-0, Luke Palmadesso 0-1, Nick Mariano 1-1, Nick Bonitatibus
0-2, Ryan Baker 2-0. Shenendehowa scoring: Brian Rogers 5-2, Joe Romano 2-1, D.J. Edick 2-1, Nick Arnold 2-0, Kyle Marr 0-2, Pat Coll 1-0.
Goaltenders: Yorktown, Austin Graham, 8 saves. Shenendehowa, Ben Robbins, 14 saves.