Kennedy makes history with OT win over Irvington
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SOMERS, N.Y. – When co-head coaches Nick and Vin Savastano took over the Kennedy lacrosse program in 2010, the brothers wanted to start something special. For years, the Gaels program was mired in mediocrity.
In their first season Kennedy qualified for the playoffs and the year after that they earned a home playoff game, but fell to Croton-Harmon.
Kennedy took the next step and won its first playoff game in program history on Friday. Senior attackman Andrew Rodriguez buried the game winner with 3:04 left in overtime to propel the No. 7-seeded Gaels to a 12-11 win over No. 10 Irvington in the Section 1 Class C opening round.
“Coach called a play that I’m not usually running,” said Rodriguez, who had three goals and two assists. “I had a little guy on me, a short stick, and I just brought it through and came in strong. I saw the goal all the way. It felt awesome. Last year it really stung when we lost that game (to Croton). We didn’t want to feel that feeling again.”
The Gaels overcame an 11-8 fourth quarter deficit, which made the win a little sweeter.
“It’s big for us to really establish the program and get a playoff win,” Nick Savastano said. “Last year we lost 11-9 to Croton and that was a home game. We had another chance this year with a home game and we told them, ‘Let’s try to do this.’ I’m real proud of the kids.”
Freshman Nick Garofano (3G, 2A) was selected as the face-off man in overtime and he won the face-off to give the Gaels possession.
“The guy was definitely stronger than me so I needed to use technique,” Garofano said of the final face-off. “I was just quicker than him, got to the ball and threw it in front of me.”
Kennedy (14-3) quickly called a timeout to set the stage for Rodriguez.
“I try to do that, especially with seniors. You kind of give it your horse (Rodriguez),” said Savastano, whose team went undefeated in their league to capture a league title. “That’s something he doesn’t do a lot, dodging. When we saw the match-up, we said, ‘We’ve got to go with him.’ He does have a good shot and he’s a 240 pound kid. It worked out.”
Irvington went on a 4-0 run in the third quarter to take a three-goal lead into the fourth.
“It wasn’t looking good for us at one point,” Savastano said. “We kept telling the kids there was a lot of time left and keep grinding away. They really never panicked and they stuck with our game plan. I thought they showed a lot of heart.”
The Gaels outscored the Bulldogs 3-0 in the fourth. Senior Dylan Trodden started things off to make it 11-9. Garofano cut it to 11-10 with 5:56 left in regulation and senior Patrick Gleason (2G) tied it up with just 3:55 remaining.
“We just kept going,” Rodriguez said. “Coach told us to never give up. We can always go down, but we always get back up. We’ve been going hard in practice for the last quarter. We’ve been doing extra sprints so we’re ready for this.”
“Coach kept us calm the whole game,” Garofano said. “We kept a high morale, everybody was pumping us up. We just kept rolling.”
Senior Dylan Kloster came up huge throughout the game and finished with 14 saves. Kloster made 10 of his 14 saves in the first half.
“I was seeing the ball,” said Kloster, who credited Dennis Devey and Tucker Clair for playing solid in front of him. “My teammates stepped up on defense, they started hitting. I just had a clear path to the ball and made some nice saves.”
The Gaels have a wealth of confidence in their goaltender.
“I thought he had some point-blank saves,” Savastano said. “You really try to rely heavily on your seniors in those moments. He really stepped up. I saw it before the game. I saw that he was ready to go and focused. I haven’t seen him that focused all year.”
Irvington (9-6) took a 7-5 lead late in the second quarter on a goal from junior Jon Cofre, but the Gaels answered with goals from Garofano and Rino Galente to tie the game at 7-7 at halftime.
Brett and Dylan Trodden each tallied a goal and two assists for Kennedy. Gerard Martirano also had a goal.
Cofre (2A) and junior Sam Winton (1A) paced the Bulldogs with four goals each. Kevin Degnan had two goals and two assists. Siggy Bereday (1G), Ronan Devlin (1A) and Corey Devlin (1A) also chipped in. Phil Joy made six saves.
No. 18-seeded Pleasantville upset No. 2 Dobbs Ferry, so the Gaels landed another home game and will square off with the Panthers on Tuesday, May 22.
“I really like how the kids have bought into our program and they deserve another home game,” Savastano said. “I think Pleasantville has had 10 one-goal games (this season). They were close with Putnam Valley and Hen Hud. They’re a good team. You can’t go by their record, they played a tough schedule and they’re going to be a tough opponent.”
Kennedy is 10-0 at home this season.
“I love having home games,” Kloster said. “So far we’re undefeated on this turf because this is a brand new turf this year. We hope to keep that going.”