Niskayuna never put together a finer comeback in all of its games in the state lacrosse tournament. The Silver Warriors never lost this deep into the season in such heartbreaking fashion, either.
Dale Stasco delivered on a high scorcher with two seconds left, and Garden City ended Niskayuna’s perfect run with a 10-9 Class B semifinal victory Wednesday at Marist College’s Tenney Stadium.
The Silver Warriors gave up five goals to start and answered with five of their own in a contest that was also even at six, seven, eight and nine before Stasco made good on his only attempt after taking a feed from Cody George.
“We helped to him [George], they found the open guy and they got a good shot off,” said Niskayuna coach Mike Vorgang. “They made a good lacrosse play. They’re a good team, and good teams make plays like that.”
Niskayuna (21-1) made a bunch of impressive plays after digging its five-goal hole. One of the best came from faceoff specialist Tyler Pantalone, who chased down a loose ball as it rolled into the Niskayuna zone, and without missing a stride shoveled the ball to Luke Goldstock.
Goldstock’s goal made it 5-5 in the second quarter, and the Silver Warriors later grabbed leads of 7-6 on a third-quarter tally by Mike D’Amario and 9-8 on a fourth-quarter rebound putback by Ryan Lawson.
D’Amario finished with four goals, and Goldstock had three goals and two assists for the No. 2-ranked team on the Under Armour/Inside Lacrosse national poll.
“We were down. We worked too hard to give up,” said Pantalone, who won four faceoffs to go with his assist in Niskayuna’s five-goal, second-quarter run. “I wanted to do everything in my power to help the team. I won a couple, and everyone picked up. You felt the electricity.”
Garden City (Section VIII, 18-3) pulled the plug, so to speak, at the end of each quarter, slowing the pace in its offensive zone before attempting a late shot. The strategy worked only in the fourth quarter, and the Trojans came away with their third state semifinal win over the Silver Warriors, which includes a 5-4 decision in 2010.
“We had a great season. We got to 20 wins again. What can I say? The kids played their hearts out,” said Vorgang. “It’s just tough to end the year that way. It’s hard to watch a game like that where a team holds the ball for two minutes.
“That’s just the way they play.”
George fired over the cage with 12 seconds to go, and Garden City called a timeout. When play resumed, Justin Guterding brought the ball in, passed to George, and George made a quick right-to-left feed to Stasco. The junior beat Evan Quinn high from about 15 yards out.
“The play was for me to shoot,” said George, who scored three goals before his assist on the game-winner. “They slid early, and I dished it over. He’s a good player. I was hoping he’d score.”
Niskayuna failed to get a shot off on its final possession beforehand, turning the ball over soon after calling a timeout with 2:41 left.
“I knew we wouldn’t get the ball back after that possession. We had an open look and we had a turnover,” said Vorgang. “Every turnover in the game hurt us just as bad as that turnover, but that’s the one you see. They all hurt.”
George began Garden City’s five-goal opening-quarter spree following a Niskayuna turnover, and scored again five seconds later after a faceoff win by James Sullivan.
“Too many mistakes on our part, and them making plays. They made more plays than we did in the first quarter,” said Vorgang. “We started to play our game and got back in it.
“I felt like we just needed to get one. In this game, the first one turns into the second, third and fourth.”
Goldstock began the second-quarter scoring, John Prendergast notched a goal and after D’Amario connected twice, including a one-hander coming around the cage, Goldstock tied the contest on a 15-yard bullet. Guterding made it 6-5 before the break.
“Never give up,” said Goldstock, one of Niskayuna’s 13 seniors. “That’s been our mentality all year.”
“In the Yorktown game, it was 6-3 and we tied it, too,” Vorgang said in reference to a 13-11 regional semifinal win. “Our kids showed a lot of resolve again.”
Goals by Goldstock and D’Amario pushed Niskayuna ahead in the third, 7-6, and the five-time state champion Trojans went up on goals by Jack Worstell and George, 8-7. When D’Amario and Lawson found the cage, Niskayuna was back on top, 9-8, in the fourth.
Guterding made it 9-9 on a strong rip with 4:14 remaining.
“Great season. Great group of guys,” said Pantalone. “I wouldn’t want anyone else by my side in this game. The chemistry we have … just awesome.”
Niskayuna is 2-4 all-time in state semifinals. It lost to West Islip in a Class A semi last year, 9-6.
Garden City, a winner of 11 in a row, is No. 17 in the UA/IL national poll.
Ward Melville scored four unanswered goals in the second quarter to break away from a 4-4 tie, and kept Shenendehowa winless in state semifinal play with a 13-6 triumph at Marist College.
Ward Melville (Section XI, 21-0), a seven-time New York champion, came in ranked No. 1 in the UA/IL national poll.
Ward Melville stretched its lead to 10-4 in the third before Brian Rogers ended a 17-minute dry spell for the Plainsmen with his second goal.
Shenendehowa’s four first-quarter goals included a tally by defenseman Tyler Olney 17 seconds into the game.
Shenendehowa (18-4) had lost previously to Niskayuna twice and to Lakeland/Panas by a goal. Shenendehowa won seven straight games following the loss to Lakeand/Panas, including regional victories over Mamaroneck and Minisink Valley. The Plainsmen also dropped state semifinals in 2011, 2004, 2003 and 2002.
Duke-bound Jack Bruckner collected five goals and two assists for Garden City, Dan Bucaro had three goals and an assist and Brendan Hegarty also notched three goals.
GARDEN CITY 10, NISKAYUNA 9
Garden City 5 1 2 2 — 10
Niskayuna 0 5 2 2 — 9
Garden City scoring: Justin Guterding 2-4, Jack Metzler 0-1, Lucas Clay 1-0, Cody George 3-1, Jack Worstell 2-0, Tim McDonagh 1-0, Dale Stasco 1-0. Niskayuna scoring: Ryan Lawson 1-1, Luke Goldstock 3-2, John Prendergast 1-0, Mike D’Amario 4-0, Tyler Pantalone 0-1.
Goalkeepers: Garden City, Dan Dolan, 7 saves. Niskayuna, Evan Quinn, 7 saves.
WARD MELVILLE 13, SHENENDEHOWA 6
Ward Melville 4 4 3 2 — 13
Shenendehowa 4 0 1 1 — 6
Ward Melville scoring: Jack Bruckner 5-2, Dan Bucaro 3-1, Brendan Hegarty 3-0, Dan Decker 0-1, Jake Kepes 0-1, Christian Mazzone 2-0, Jake McCulloch 0-1. Shenendehowa scoring: Nick Arnold 1-0, Pat Coll 0-1, D.J. Edick 1-0, Kyle Marr 1-1, Brian Rogers 2-0, Joe Romano 0-1, Tyler Olney 1-0.
Goalkeepers: Ward Melville, unavailable. Shenendehowa, Ben Robbins, 11 saves.