Boys Varsity | Jake White's Articles
UNDEFEATED TROJANS WIN STATE CHAMPIONSHIP TO FINISH AS NATION’S TOP-RANKED TEAM 06/02/2011
BY JAKE WHITE
The moment was so special that Garden City High’s boys lacrosse team, coaches and fans didn’t want it to end. The scene was the post-game celebration after the Trojans had defeated Irondequoit, 11-4 , to win the New York State Class B Championship at the beautiful Middletown High School stadium. After an incredible, pressure-filled campaign Garden City had a perfect record (22-0), the fifth state title in its history, (but first since 2000), and the consensus Number One Ranking among all high schools in the United States. They had avenged two-straight defeats to upstate rivals in state finals and made a strong case for their place in the school’s illustrious history. Nobody wanted to leave the field even after the championship plaque was presented and Devin Dwyer and Dan Marino received their outstanding player awards. As somebody said, “It doesn’t get any better than this.”
“I am incredibly proud of what these players and our coaching staff accomplished,” said Trojans head coach Steve Finnell. “We put together an extremely difficult non-league schedule to prepare them and they met every challenge. That continued throughout the playoffs.” It is worth noting that GC defeated the State C Champs (Shoreham-Wading River), the County A Champs (Syosset), the Suffolk A runners-up (Ward Melville) and successfully scrimmaged the New Jersey champ (Bridgewater-Rariton ) and the Catholic League Champ (St. Anthony’s).
“I really believe that last year’s loss was the key to winning it all this year,” said Finnell. “This team was hungry for the championship. You could see it the way they worked in the off season and how they played in the playoffs.” Patric Berkery agreed. “Last year’s loss was probably the worst feeling ever.”
After struggling for three quarters, the Trojans took a 4-3 lead into the final period, then scored seven goals to put an exclamation point on their magic season. After falling behind 2-0 in the opening minutes, Cody George and Berkery knotted the score. Then came a second quarter that was dominated by Irondequoit which took ten shots, eight of them on goal. But goalie Dan Marino stopped all of them to keep the score knotted at 2-2 at the half. In the third quarter, Berkery, who has a long history of clutch performances, scored his second of three goals to give the Trojans a lead they would never lose.
Early in the final period an Irondequoit player committed a late, flagrant foul on Justin Guterding and left the field to his teammates’ cheers and a coach’s high five. The player was given a one minute non-releasable penalty and it changed the game. Dwyer and Kennedy scored to put GC ahead 6-3 and five more goals followed. The final minutes were a prelude to a post-game love fest which was as much a feeling of relief as it was a celebration.