Once Shenendehowa senior Brian Rogers found the range, there was little Shaker could do in Saturday’s Section II Class A boys’ lacrosse championship game at John Fallon Field.
Rogers ripped home seven goals to lead the Plainsmen past the Blue Bison, 18-10, for the school’s third sectional championship in four years.
“It’s better now,” said Joe Romano, who scored three goals and had a pair of assists for Shenendehowa. “In 10th grade, we won. Now, it’s kind of ours because the seniors helped win it.”
The 16-3 Plainsmen advance to a regional semifinal back here Wednesday at 8, when they will play Section I champion Mamaroneck.
“After we got all of the nerves out, we started moving the ball around. We found the open lanes and put the ball in the net,” said Rogers, who scored all but three of his team’s goals as Shenendehowa took an 8-5 lead at the half.
His accurate shooting enabled the Plainsmen to respond when Shaker would draw close. His last two goals of the first half sandwiched a Nick Arnold score, the three goals coming in a span of 65 seconds.
“We wanted to make them a little uncomfortable, and trade with them as long as we can and catch lightning in a bottle,” said Blue Bison coach Shawn Hennessey. “We kept it right where we wanted in the first half. Sometimes, the best players play the best, and they had a phenomenal one today in Brian Rogers.”
“He’s the guy that gets us going,” said first-year Shenendehowa head coach Jason Gifford. “I told him all year, ‘We’re going to lean on you when we need you.’
“The guys trust him. They believe in him. They know he’s going to make good decisions with the ball.”
“Brian kind of put it on himself and kind of took over the game and said it was his,” said Romano. “Seven goals in a game, that’s a lot. We trusted him and ran what coach told us to run. It was working.
“If they don’t stop him, we just keep giving it to him. We’re all unselfish players.”
Shaker goalkeeper Aidan Snyder did his best to keep his team in the game, making a number of good saves in the first two quarters.
“In the first half, I thought he made some tremendous saves to keep us going,” Hennessey said. “That gave us the energy we needed.”
And also concerned Rogers, whose team won the regular-season match with Shaker, 16-3.
“Last time we played them, it seemed like he wasn’t finding the ball,” Rogers said. “Tonight, especially at the beginning of the game, he was.
“Coach pulled us in and said we needed to be better shooters.”
Nick Dodd scored the first goal of the second half to pull Shaker to within two, but Rogers responded with his sixth goal of the game, igniting a 9-0 Shen run that carried into the final quarter and sealed the win.
“Coming out in the third quarter, we were right where we needed to be” Hennessey said.
But Shenendehowa made Shaker play defense for long stretches, wearing down the third-seeded team.
“They pounded us into the ground. It’s not that we got tired on our own, Shen made us tired,” said Hennessey.
A lot of that came from Shenendehowa’s relentless pursuit of ground balls.
“We know when Shaker gets that ground ball is when they’re the most dangerous, in transition,” Rogers said. “We had to be sharp and get the ball so they didn’t have the opportunity to get the transition.”
“Ground balls are everything in this game,” said Gifford. “You have to do the dirty work. Good things come when you do.”
It also helps to have a team with multiple offensive threats.
Romano was one of those who benefitted. Arnold and D.J. Edick also had three goals, and Kyle Marr had the other two for the top-seeded Plainsmen.
“One day, it might be Brian. The next day, it might be Kyle,” Romano said of his team’s offense. “The next day, it might be Nick. The next day, it might by D.J., myself, Pete Sacks.”
While Shenendehowa celebrated, Hennessey looked ahead.
“We’re 16-3,” he said. “Shaker hasn’t seen 16-3 in years and years and years and years. The season they put together and the run that we made puts us right where we want to be.
“So, I couldn’t be happier.”
Shaker 2 3 1 4 — 10
Shenendehowa 4 4 5 5 — 18
Shaker scoring: Tim Leahey 4-0, Liam King 3-0, Nick Dodd 2-0, Stephen Rehfuss 1-1. Shenendehowa scoring: Brian Rogers 7-1, D.J. Edick 3-2, Joe Romano 3-2, Nick Arnold 3-0, Kyle Marr 2-1.
Goalkeepers: Shaker, Aidan Snyder, 11 saves. Shenendehowa, Ben Robbins, 9 saves; Drew Hanagan, 1 save.