May 31, 2012 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
In the pursuit of something larger and quite historic, the Jamesville-DeWitt boys lacrosse team nearly forgot about snaring its fourth consecutive Section III Class B championship.
But the Red Rams broke out of its doldrums in ample time and, with two big third-quarter runs, got away from pesky Carthage to prevail 13-7 in Wednesday’s Class B final at Cicero-North Syracuse’s Bragman Stadium.
“In our big games, the third quarter was the difference,” said head coach Jamie Archer. “We had to see how our kids reacted to adversity.”
Jordan Evans, in particular, reacted well, the junior attacker pouring in four goals and three assists, including one in the waning seconds of that pivotal third period that made it 11-6, ultimately out of the Comets’ reach.
“We had to keep the intensity and take the wind out of their (Carthage’s) sails, and we did,” said Evans.
Carthage has faced its own sort of adversity through the last year, starting with the news in July 2011 that long-time head coach Kirk Ventiquattro had Stage Four prostate cancer.
With his trademark intensity and determination, Ventiquattro has worked his way back, and the cancer is currently in remission. As a fund-raiser for cancer research, Carthage has been selling light-blue T-Shirts with the number 24 on the back, and the Comets got light blue jerseys with red numbers to wear for this season.
Inspired by their coach, and determined to take down the two-time defending state Class B champions, Carthage played a superb first half, claiming face-offs and slowing down the game’s tempo, keeping it from the potent Rams’ attack as much as possible.
“They (J-D) had to play to beat us,” said Ventiquattro. “We were proud of our effort.”
The Comets took a 3-2 lead to the second quarter. Even after Evans hit on back-to-back goals and Mike Engstrom converted to put J-D ahead 5-3, the Comets came back and, with goals from Chris Gamble and Paul Bracy, tied it 5-5 early in the third period.
To this point, Carthage had controlled most of the face-offs. From here, though, Jeff Edwards and Lucas Johnson took turns snatching the draws, giving J-D more chances, which it did not waste.
Evans, on a fast break, sparked the first decisive surge with a behind-the-back goal off a turnover. Engstrom and Mike Perkins quickly followed with goals that made it 8-5.
After Dan Conlin cut it to 8-6, J-D got away late in the period. Perkins converted his second goal at the 10:16 and, exactly one minute later, Deke Burns made it 10-6 as Evans assisted on that goal before his own last-second conversion.
Archer said that the production gained from the likes of Engstrom and Perkins displays his team’s biggest asset, adding that it doesn’t have to be stars like Burns or McLaren Brady that make pivotal plays.
“The strength of our team is depth,” said Archer. “That made the difference here.”
As the Rams’ quest for a third straight state championship continues, Evans said the quality of the opponents will force J-D into similar efforts like the one it needed to beat Carthage.
“This was a wake-up call for the state playoffs,” said Evans. “The games will be a lot closer (from now on), and we’ve got to grind them out.”