Winning a faceoff against Chaminade's senior midfielder Kris Clarke is almost like winning a race, during the middle of a sunny day, with a blister on your right foot, in cheap sneakers, while you're dehydrated.
At least that's how it seemed Saturday when he won 13 of 17 faceoffs, including all seven in the second half. He helped Chaminade (3-0) dominate the ball and rack up possessions during a 9-4 nonleague boys lacrosse win over host and defending state champion West Islip (1-1). The home loss was West Islip's first since March 2010.
"Our team voted him in as a captain. They know how important he is for us and how hard he works," Chaminade coach Jack Moran said. 'If you think you're throwing something out there he hasn't seen, well, he's seen it."
Some lacrosse coaches and players may downplay the importance of winning a faceoff because the team that loses the faceoff can get the ball right back with a turnover. Yet that doesn't always happen so quickly and it was a rare sight for West Islip Saturday.
"Winning faceoffs are huge in the game in terms of momentum," Clarke said.
Senior midfielder Tommy Zenker and junior attack James Roberts made the most of the increased amount of opportunities. Zenker had a hat trick in the game and Roberts scored twice. West Islip had no answer on defense against Zenker and his overhand lefthanded shots.
"Being a captain, I'm a leader on the team and people look up to me and see how hard I play and they reciprocate," Zenker said. "I was pretty jacked up for this game."
Chaminade and West Islip traded goals in the first quarter, with Zenker scoring his first and junior Mike Moynihan, who also finished with a hat trick, getting one through the net for the home team. Chaminade then pulled away with four goals in the second quarter by four different players: Brian Pratt, Roberts, Sam Bonafede and Zenker. The Lions responded with just one goal.
The Lions improved on defense to open the second half as they held Chaminade to one goal, Roberts' second. West Islip added two goals in the quarter but never scored again.
Chaminade, propelled by a core of midfielders who play extremely well on both ends of the field, closed out the game by shutting out the Lions in the final quarter and adding four more goals.
West Islip's most capable scorer, Nick Aponte, who got medical clearance (shoulder) to play Friday, was held scoreless by senior defender Tim Muller.
"It's a mindset," Moran said. "You can't be that good on offense and not play defense. It doesn't translate."
Last March, Chaminade handed West Islip's its only loss of a 2012 season that ended with a state championship.
Prior to the game, West Islip coach Scott Craig said he would take a loss to the Flyers, as he had last year, if it meant his team again will run the table afterward.
Chaminade held up its end of that deal.