Herzog: Mixed emotions for LI LAX teams
SYRACUSE, NY -- Overtime in a state championship lacrosse game guarantees drama and trauma -- unbridled ecstasy or inconsolable agony. Long Island's boys teams experienced both Saturday in back-to-back thrillers that left some hearts soaring and others broken. Some dreams died a sudden death; others will live forever.
In the Class A title game, Farmingdale not only won the school's first state boys lacrosse championship on Korey Hendrickson's goal 42 seconds into OT, but also ended a 42-year drought for coach Bob Hartranft. The Dalers got to take part in what has become predictable pandemonium -- a stick-and-helmet-flinging frenzy followed by pileup of bodies. "Nothing could beat this," Hendrickson exclaimed.
In Class B, Garden City was on the other end of the emotional spectrum. The Trojans came excruciatingly close to ending Jamesville-Dewitt's two-year unbeaten streak until a goal with three seconds left in OT crushed their spirits. More than a few players fell to their knees on the AstroTurf at Cicero-North Syracuse High School. Some tossed their sticks and helmets to the ground in despair and disgust. Many cried. "It's so tough to go out like that," GC's Stephen Jahelka said, unsuccessfully fighting back the tears.
Those are the most enduring snapshots from the 2011 state boys lacrosse tournament, which also included a first appearance in the Class C event by Bayport-Blue Point. The Phantoms were walloped by Cazenovia, 14-6, but their disappointment was tempered by the knowledge that they had already made school history by winning their first Suffolk and Long Island titles before coming to Central New York. "A special season," coach Mike Luce said.
It was extra special for Farmingdale because of the Hartranft subplot. The venerable coach refused to use his own title quest as a motivational tool. In fact, he was reluctant to talk about it to the media at all. "It's not about me; it's about the kids," was his standard line.
So naturally, he was most excited for his players, especially the 17 seniors, when Hendrickson's fourth goal of the game made school history. "A lot of them have played together since the third grade," Hartranft said. "It's great for them."
Garden City had 10 seniors on its roster and for all the program's success, none of them got to experience the joy of a state championship. "I'm hurting for them," Trojans coach Steve Finnell said.
One remarkable tableau was when Jahelka -- not the coaches -- summoned tearful teammates to gather around him for one last pep talk. "I told them I loved them. It was the gutsiest performance I'd ever been a part of," he said. "And I told them not to forget this feeling, so you can build on it for the next time."
There always seems to be a "next time" when it comes to Long Island teams and the state lacrosse championship. Long Island was represented in all three title games -- by loud, enthusiastic fans in all age groups, as well as talented teams -- and there have been only three years since 1985 when at least one LI team hasn't hoisted a championship trophy.
Oh, and how about one personal memory: A couple of Farmingdale players were sneaking up on Hartranft to deliver the traditional ice-water dousing as he was doing a joint interview with Newsday and News 12. The intrepid reporters began backing away. That wasn't much of a deterrent to the devious Dalers. But when the cameraman voiced his concern for pricey equipment and Hartranft turned around in time to avoid a soaking, the players retreated.
Thanks guys, the Newsday reporter cracked, dryly.