May 31, 2007 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Sound strategy, combined with all-out effort and execution, helped push the Christian Brothers Academy boys lacrosse team to a second consecutive Section III Class C championship.
The prime target of all of its foes this spring, the Brothers still emerged with the crown intact, holding off LaFayette 10-9 in last Wednesday’s Class C final at Cicero-North Syracuse’s Bragman Stadium.
Head coach Jon McCoy said he never processed the team’s title run in 2006 until it was over, a feeling that was different in ’07.
“I’ve learned to enjoy this experience the second time around,” he said. “It’s been a good year.”
Part of the enjoyment came from the fact that no opponent could beat the Brothers, with one big exception.
Two weeks prior to the sectional final, LaFayette gave CBA its only defeat of the season, a 14-10 game where the Lancers unveiled a zone defense that baffled the Brothers most of the way.
Knowing that it would see the zone again, the Brothers paid close attention to the way Skaneateles handled it in the May 26 Class C semifinals. Possessing the ball most of the time, the Lakers lost by a single goal, 8-7, and gave CBA some ideas.
Sure enough, LaFayette used the zone. And the Brothers countered with a 1-4-1 zone offense, stressing control of the ball as much as shots on goal, a difficult concept to teach to a high-powered attack in a short amount of time.
“Our no. 1 goal was possession,” said senior forward Jack Harmatuk.
McCoy agreed. “This really isn’t how we play lacrosse,” he said. “But we had to do it here in order to win.”
That goal was met, to near-perfection, as CBA (aided by the face-offs won by Jovan Miller) controlled the ball for most of the first half, forcing LaFayette’s zone to stay at home, in front of the crease, until the Brothers could find a weak spot.
As it turned out, that weak spot was the point. Devin Daly camped out there and, at the right times, ripped shots past Lancer goalie Tony Azzoto. Daly finished with four goals, all on shots from the middle of the field, and said the team’s ball movement had much to with that number.
When LaFayette did get to attack, it rarely had room to maneuver. The defensive quartet of Kris Estabrook, Andrew D’Agostino, Matt Germain and Mike Bulman was not fooled by any of the Lancers’ moves, and other than Josh Amidon (who had four of his team’s first five goals), no Lancer player could do much. Zack Palmieri would finish with nine saves.
Through its patience, CBA sacrificed a big lead for control, holding an 8-4 advantage early in the fourth quarter, but the Lancers would not go easily.
Within a span of less than three minutes, LaFayette scored three times, including Amidon’s fourth and fifth goals of the game, trimming the Brothers’ lead to 8-7 with a lot of time left.
CBA called a time-out to settle things down. Daly said that McCoy and his fellow coaches focused on one concept.
“Our confidence wasn’t high at that point,” he said. “Lacrosse is a game of momentum, and we had to push ourselves to get that momentum back.”
The Brothers did so by making key defensive stops, then resuming its patient attack. Harmatuk, held without a goal so far, burst to the middle and, off a great feed from Ben Ashenburg, scored with 5:25 left. Exactly three minutes later, Harmatuk scored again, all but putting the game away.
“My shooting was not on for most of the game,” said Harmatuk. “But at the end, I found it.”
The two-time champions could now turn its attention to the state playoffs, which start Saturday at 3:30 with a game against Canton (Section X) at SUNY-Potsdam.