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DEFENSE AND MIDDIES KEY TROJANS’ WOOD STICK WIN; PLAYOFFS OPEN FRIDAY 05/31/2012
BY JAKE WHITE
About the only thing that didn’t go perfectly at last Saturday’s 122nd Wood Stick Classic lacrosse game was the weather. The predicted 70 degrees and sunny turned out to be 60 and damp, but that didn’t prevent more than 2,000 fans and a live TV audience from seeing an outstanding performance by the top-ranked Garden City Trojans who dominated Manhasset, their ancient rivals, 9-3, at Warren King Field.
Beyond the victory, two other key elements appear to be in place for the Trojans as they open the Class B playoffs at Garden City this Friday, May 11. All year long the high scoring attack has dominated this talented team, which has averaged 14 goals per game. However, upcoming opponents must also be prepared to face a maturing defense and a midfield which is starting to flex its muscles.
Veteran Virginia-bound goalie Dan Marino played behind the best defense in the school’s history a year ago, but as this season has progressed his defenders have gotten better and better. Senior Eugene Berkery was experienced but Coach Steve Finnell and his defensive aides Joe Jacovina and Mickey Blum have rebuilt the back line with outstanding athletes Scott D’Antonio, Ed Blatz, Tom Wright and Kyle Skramko. Those four are all underclassmen, but it looks as if they have come of age. They shut out the Indians for three of four quarters and the three third quarter goals they allowed are two less than their five goals per game average. Hall of Famer Pat McCabe, who broadcast the game, is impressed. “Right now,” he said, “they are playing almost as well as last year’s group.”
The other recent development has been the greater offensive role played by the midfield. It is no secret that the outstanding attack of Devin Dwyer, Liam Kennedy and Justin Guterding has been piling up points (more than 170 between them) and defenses are packing in to try to slow them down. That has opened up scoring opportunities for the middies and they are taking advantage. Patric Berkery, Rob Savage, Ryan Norton and Mark Ellis have been firing home rifle shots. Ellis scored three goals in a 19-5 win over Bellmore Kennedy while Berkery and Savage had two goals in the Wood Stick and Norton had three points. In addition, freshman James Sullivan has improved his faceoff skills. He dominated against Manhasset, enabling the Trojans to control the ball and the tempo.
“We are now a very balanced team and that is what we strive for,” said Coach Finnell. “We knew that we had an excellent attack and a terrific goaltender. Now we have talented depth at midfield and the defenders are playing very well as a unit.”
On Monday afternoon at Calhoun, GC improved its record to 14-0 with a 15-5 triumph over the Colts. The starting unit built an 11-1 halftime lead behind the scoring of Justin Guterding (5 goals, 3 assists), Liam Kennedy (3 goals) and Devin Dwyer (1 goal, 5 assists). Dwyer tied the school’s career assist record of 193 set by Pete LeSueur ’01. Jack Worstell, who has seen increased playing time, added three goals and an assist in a reserve role. Jack Metzler had a goal and two assists.
The win set up a crucial regular season finale last Wednesday between the Trojans and Wantagh with the Conference B-1 Championship at stake. Both teams came into the game with 7-0 league records.
LAX NOTES: The Wood Stick Classic was dedicated to the Wounded Warriors Project and the Folds of Honor and was organized by Mr. Tom Marino. Members of Seal Team Eight and a marine color guard were on hand. A planned fly-over had to be cancelled when the AT-6 was grounded by low clouds.....Tim Goettelmann and Adam Kohart did a wonderful job organizing the second annual Alumni game. More than 60 former Garden City stars played. But Manhasset won 14-10. One of the highlights was seeing GC’s top one season scorers, Tim Worstell ’79 and Dean Gibbons ’07, playing on the same attack.....The Class B quarterfinals are scheduled for Hofstra on May 17 or 18.....The Wood Stick win was the 100th career victory against just 19 losses for Coach Finnell in six seasons......In a throwback to another era, a streaker raced across the field at Calhoun at halftime. It was the Colts’ only fast break of the day.