There was elation, for sure, but the primary thought running through John Prendergast’s mind last weekend when his Duke men’s lacrosse team won its NCAA tournament quarterfinal against Notre Dame went simply beyond enjoying the thrill of an overtime victory.
“You’ve got another week with your friends,” Prendergast said.
The knowledge he’d get one final week with his college teammates is what Prendergast, a 2015 Niskayuna High School graduate, said gave him the most satisfaction following last weekend’s 14-13 win. That victory sent Duke back to the sport’s championship weekend, where the Blue Devils will play noon Saturday against Virginia at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field.
Last year, Prendergast — a 6-foot-2, 195-pound midfielder — helped Duke reach the national championship game. Duke lost in that final to Yale, but Prendergast expects last year’s postseason run to help the Blue Devils in their return to the sport’s final weekend of action.
“It’s definitely an advantage,” said Prendergast, who helped lead Niskayuna to a Class A state championship during his senior year. “There’s a lot of things that go into playing in championship weekend that are different than playing in the regular season. If you don’t have that experience going into it, it’s a lot of trial by error.”
Prendergast is one of a number of Section II products involved in college lacrosse’s championship weekend.
At the Division I women’s level, fellow Niskayuna graduate Marisa DiVietro is a junior on North Carolina, which matched up with Boston College — which has Niskayuna High School graduate Kayla Treanor on its coaching staff — in the national semifinals.
Sunday’s Division II men’s championship game between Limestone and Merrimack features plenty of players with area ties. For Limestone, senior Matt Hommell and redshirt senior Coltin Moseman are both Ballston Spa products, while freshman Pierce Holohan is a Shenendehowa graduate, while Merrimack junior Chris Willox is a Voorheesville native and played for CBA.
Meanwhile, last weekend, a number of former Section II products helped Onondaga Community College to its 12th NJCAA championship with a 7-6 win against Nassau. On Onondaga’s championship team from Section II schools were freshman Christian Hunt from Cambridge, sophomore Michael Brandow from Greenwich, freshman Jimmy Kelley from Troy, and freshmen Stavros Avramidis and Mike Avramidis from Schenectady.
This season, Prendergast has appeared in 16 games for the 13-4 Blue Devils. The 22-year-old who graduated with a degree in public policy studies earlier this month has scored three goals, recorded two assists and collected 15 ground balls this season.
Prendergast was selected in both the Major League Lacrosse and Premier Lacrosse League drafts this year, and said he is likely to play in one of the leagues this summer. His focus, though, is on enjoying his final days as a college lacrosse player alongside his friends.
“It’s been the best,” Prendergast said.