Onondaga Two months ago, Ryan Cook and Henry Mann played key roles in the Cazenovia boys lacrosse team’s run to a second state Class C championship in three years.
And they would be teammates again on the Central region squad that competed in last week’s Empire State Cup at Onondaga Community College, which made a spirited run before some late-tournament defeats cost a shot at a gold medal.
Started in 2012, the Empire State Cup was designed to provide a tournament similar to that seen in the Empire State Games, which last took place in 2010.
So Central, Western, Hudson Valley, Adirondack, Long Island and New York City squads came to OCC (where Cook will play next season), with New York City the defending champions from the inaugural event.
Starting fast, Central beat Adirondack 13-1 on Thursday morning, Cook gathering up three goals and one assist. Later that day, with Cook improving his total to four goals and two assists, Central won again, 14-7, over Hudson Valley, using a 7-2 run early in the second half to break the game open as Mann contributed key face-off wins.
Things began to turn on Friday. Central scored all 10 of its goals in the first half against Western, Cook getting half of them. But a second-half shutout forced Central to hang on for a 10-9 victory, an ominous sign of second-half struggles ahead.
Sure enough, in the fourth game Central took its first loss, 8-3, to Long Island, again unable to find the net in the second half after only trailing 4-3 at the break.
Cook, held to one goal against Long Island, led his side to a 4-1 halftime lead against New York City, but again Central went into a second-half slump and lost, 6-5, costing it a chance to improve its position for Saturday’s playoff round.