Jun 11, 2007 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
All in all, it was a great day to be red.
Shut out of state championships for more than two decades, the Jamesville-DeWitt boys lacrosse team put an end to that drought Saturday at Cicero-North Syracuse, beating John Jay-Cross River 13-11 to climb to the top.
“It’s an awesome feeling, I can’t even describe it,” said senior defender Brian Karalunas. “There’s nothing like bringing this championship back home.”
None of the current Red Rams players were born in 1986, the only time the school won a state title. Yet head coach Jamie Archer said the team was more motivated by its early departure from the 2006 post-season at the hands of New Hartford in the Section III Class B final.
“Losing in that final stayed in their heads,” said Archer. “And these guys have worked from day one and dedicated themselves to erasing that memory. This is their reward.”
It was a great accomplishment for both teams to be in the final. John Jay (21-3) had defeated Huntington, the two-time defending state champions, and snapped that team’s 63-game winning streak.
J-D had knocked out Geneva in its state semifinal, marking the second time the Rams had appeared in the title game in three years.
The large crowd at Bragman Stadium enjoyed a state final that was exciting, competitive, and hard fought — but in the end, went in J-D’s favor.
John Jay controlled the first period and cruised to a 4-1 lead. The Indians took advantage of its size, setting screens and breaking down J-D’s defense with high percentage shots that led to scores. John Jay had a balanced offense that allowed four different players – Brian Douglas, Kevin Stockel, Kevin Drew, and Chris Bocklet — to score.
In the second period, J-D rose to the challenge and fought back. Archer said that he told his players not to be intimidated of John Jay’s size and to keep attacking, and it worked.
Christian Daly scored 2:55 into the period, and two more goals followed, as the Rams tied the game at 4-4.
Later in the period, the Rams again stormed down the field. Receiving a pass from Jim Marshall, Jeff Vetter fired the ball over his shoulder and into the goal, and the J-D had its first lead at 5-4.
At that point, the game began to swing back and forth, but 1:30 before halftime, remaining Mike Centra scored, and J-D kept that 7-6 lead until the break.
Early in the third quarter, goalie Zack Paz made a point-blank save on Brian Douglas to rob John Jay of a goal. Using that as a spark, J-D’s offense responded with its biggest run of the game. It outscored the Indians 5-1 for the rest of the period. Mac Keefus had two of those goals.
J-D didn’t stop there, eventually building the lead to 12-7. Not conceding the game John Jay mounted a furious rally. Late in the period John Jay scored three goals in a span of 4:15 to cut it to 12-10.
“We knew we had to weather that storm,” said Karalunas. “But a state champion never gives up.”
Soon enough, the Rams would have the crown. Finding his way out of full-field pressure, Marshall found Mike Edwards for a clinching goal with 2:45 left.
Daly was the game’s most vaulable player, earning that crown with four goals and one assist. Edwards was close behind, scoring three times and adding an assist, as Keefus had two goals and two assists and Marshall added four assists.
Karalunas earned defensive MVP honors, getting lots of help on the back line from stalwarts Rob Cooper, Jake Liebman and Dan Perl, and Paz finished with 13 saves.
John Jay’s Brian Douglas had four goals while Chris Bocklet earned three goals and four assists. Goalie Chris Latino posted 10 saves.
The wild celebration that followed the final horn symbolized the Rams’ unity, forged through a full year of off-season work, and strengthened in the aftermath of the team’s last defeat, to Cortland on May 1.
After that, said Marshall, “we came together as a family”, and that family never suffered another blemish, closing 22-3 and earning state championship hardware not seen at J-D in a generation.
Many centerpieces of this team, including Marshall, Daly, Paz, Karalunas, Cooper, Perl, Centra, George Kingma, Paul Romano and Tom Grover, now depart. But with Edwards, Keefus, Vetter and John Clark still around, J-D will have high intentions of keeping the crown it took so long to get back.