Onondaga After a long series of tryouts, Skaneateles boys lacrosse goalie Max Smith and long-stick midfielder Cullen Newland made it to the Central Region team that competed last weekend in the Empire State Cup at Onondaga Community College.
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.
Throughout the tournament, Smith would split playing time in the net with Nick Nehring, from Corning High School. Newland saw action, too, patrolling the entire field and especially contributing on the defensive side.
Starting fast, Central beat Adirondack 13-1 on Thursday morning as Ryan Cook, star of Cazenovia’s state Class C championship team last spring, gathered 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 a close contest open.
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. Smith and Nehring finished with 14 total saves.
In the last game of round-robin play on Friday, Central held a 4-1 halftime lead against defending champion 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.