Jun 08, 2011 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Perhaps the Jamesville-DeWitt boys lacrosse team’s 9-6 victory over Irondequoit in Wednesday night’s state Class B semifinals at St. John Fisher College in suburban Rochester did not fit into the mold of other games the Red Rams have played in this post-season, as it mostly featured two strong defenses shutting each other down.
Still, J-D, boosted by Tim Edwards, McLaren Brady and a ferocious defense that shut out the Eagles most of the game, finished in front, despite Irondequoit’s furious late rally, and by doing so extended its win streak to 43 and earned a shot at back-to-back state championships.
In that final Saturday at 1:30 at Cicero-North Syracuse’s Bragman Stadium, J-D will face Garden City, from Long Island, who topped Yorktown 10-8 in the other semifinal. It’s a rematch of last year’s title game that the Rams won at Stony Brook.
The state semifinal against Irondequoit was also a rematch from the same round in 2010. The Eagles had waited 12 long months for payback, but would not get it.
After waiting out the dramatic end of the Class A state semifinal, where Ithaca beat Pittsford 6-5 in double overtime, the Red Rams went to work. Just 1:50 into the game, defender Davi Sacco took the ball at midfield and snaked through the entire Indians’ defense to beat Eagles goalie Eric Fisher and put J-D in front.
Less than two minutes later, Irondequoit’s Nick Doktor answered, tying it 1-1, but soon the game settled into its defensive pattern.
Due to the 90-plus degree heat, the Rams rotated in several midfielders, including Matt Kopp and Jake LaRussa, to keep Sacco and brothers Nick and Scott Firman from carrying too much of the load. It worked, as the Eagles would go more than 32 minutes of game time without scoring, until the early part of the fourth quarter.
J-D’s attack also proved uneven early, either taking long shots or missing the closer looks. Only when it got a man-up did the Rams convert again, Justin Diamond scoring off Jordan Evans’ feed to put his team in front for good, 2-1.
So good was J-D’s defense that it made a stop late in the first quarter even when goalie Dan DiStefano got caught more than 80 yards from the net and turned the ball over deep in Irondequoit territory.
Moving to the second quarter, the Rams’ attack still found itself bottled up, Irondequoit’s aggressive man-to-man defense keeping things close. And everyone was battling the heat, with breaks taken twice in the first half to give everyone some water for hydration.
It was Edwards breaking a long stalemate, hitting a goal with 3:59 left in the half. Then a last-minute defensive stand kept J-D’s margin at 3-1 going into the break.
As the second half started, J-D’s defenders forced Irondequoit outside into low-percentage shots, and had to keep working as the Rams could not add to its lead, turning the ball over and taking poor shots.
Twice, the Rams killed off Irondequoit man-up situations in the third quarter, capping the second of them with DiStefano’s point-blank stop of Doktor that set up a quick and decisive sequence late in the period, with Edwards as the catalyst.
J-D got another man-up of its own and Steve Aziz, off a feed from Edwards, ripped it home from the point, making it 4-1. Edwards won the ensuing face-off and, six seconds later hit Deke Burns, who also flung it past Fisher.
Thus, in a matter of moments, J-D’s margin had doubled, and Edwards got another assist on Brady’s goal minutes later that made it 6-1 going into the fourth quarter.
But once the Eagles broke its drought in the final period, it got revived, and the game suddenly transformed itself into the shoot-out many expected beforehand.
Max Kostyk cut it to 6-3 with 9:14 left, and off a turnover Doktor converted with exactly seven minutes left, making it 6-4.
Brady answered just 27 seconds after Doktor’s goal to get it to 7-4, but Nick Coholan answered with 6:16 left to make it 7-5. Again, the Rams had a quick response, Brady getting his third goal off a feed from Jordan Evans less than a minute later.
Gunnar Miller hit on a man-up situation with 3:23 left, making it 8-6, and Irondequoit had a chance to pull within one to make the last sequence more stressful on J-D’s part. But one more time, the Rams’ defense made a crucial stop, Evans added a last-minute goal – and now, the state finals beckon.