* Follow Section 1 boys lax on Twitter @MSGV_Icass *
SHRUB OAK, N.Y — For the first time since 2005, the annual Murphy Cup game between cross-town rivals Yorktown and Lakeland/Panas was not played on the first Saturday in May.
The end result, however, was the same as it ever was.
The visiting Huskers (10-2) topped the Rebels (8-5), 14-10, on Friday evening at Lakeland High School to capture the Murphy Cup for the 20th time the past 23 years.
“It's huge — especially in Mr. Murph's honor,” Yorktown's Nick Mariano said. “I met him and it was one of the best feelings I've ever had.”
Charlie Murphy, who went by “Mr. Murph,” wrote a $500 check to kickstart Yorktown's program back in 1965. Murphy's home — which always had lacrosse nets out in the backyard — served as the ultimate training grounds for countless green and white All-Americans.
Against Lakeland/Panas, Yorktown's time-honored tradition shined brightest in the second half. The Huskers, who trailed 8-6 after a lackluster first half, outscored Lakeland/Panas 8-2 over the final two quarters of play.
“We didn't play a very good first half at all,” Huskers coach Dave Marr said. “We told the guys at the half that we played poorly, but we were only down two and had to come out and play better lacrosse. And I think they did in the second half.”
The Huskers made their biggest mark at the faceoff X. Junior middie Danny Manning went 9-for-10 at the draw in the second half and 16-for-21 on the game. Teammate Luke Palmadesso also went 2-for-2 after halftime, giving Yorktown a commanding 11-1 edge on second-half faceoffs.
“Our guys did a good job,” Marr said. “We had two guys tandem it and they kind of wore them down in the second half. (Lakeland/Panas) was conceding pretty much by putting their defensive middies on. It was nice to be able to get the ball. It was just make it and take it.”
Lakeland/Panas' top faceoff man, Chris Monteferante, didn't take a single draw in the second half. The West Point-bound senior captain injured his left shoulder early in the game but toughed it out and played on. Still, he was physically unable to help out at the dot.
“My whole left side has been a little iffy lately, but it is what it is and you have to play through it,” said Monteferante, who buried both his goals inside the first seven minutes of the first quarter.
With time of possession overwhelmingly in their favor, the Huskers' offense came alive. Mariano buried three of his team-high four goals in the second half. The UMass-bound junior had struggled with his shot in Yorktown's previous game against Mahopac on Tuesday, connecting on just one of eight attempts. As a result, he took 300-plus rips at the cage during practice this past week.
“Practice makes perfect,” said Mariano, who also notched two assists. “I just had to really work on my overhand shot. I've been taking a lot of underhand, sidearm shots and they weren't really working out for me. Shooting overhand and putting them in the low corners worked a lot.”
Overall, Yorktown's potent attack combined for 10 goals and four assists. Conor Gately (3G, 2A) and Connor Vercruysse (3G) rounded out the production.
Vercruysse, an imposing 6-2, 190-pound sophomore, has flourished since joining the first-line unit five games ago against Shenendehowa. He has scored 12 of his 21 total goals during the stretch.
“I'm a natural attackman, so I play better from there,” said Vercruysse, who started the year out as a second-line midfielder.
And it doesn't hurt that Vercruysse has developed lethal chemistry with Gately, who quarterbacks Yorktown's offense with Peyton Manning-like precision. The duo connected for back-to-back goals late in the first quarter to help the Huskers even the score at 4-4 heading into the second.
“Conor Gately knows where I am all the time,” Vercruysse said. “A lot of players on this team know that I like to shoot and not dodge much. It's moving around, getting open and they will find me.”
Midfielders Joey Sialiano (2G), Frank Fusco (1G) and Joey Raniolo (1G) also produced for the Huskers' offense. Fusco, who sat our the first quarter due to an unsportsmanlike play against Mahopac, still managed to rack up a team-high 11 ground balls. He also put the final nail in L/P's coffin, unleashing a manup goal from distance at the 8:38 mark of the fourth to boost Yorktown's lead to 14-10.
The Huskers weren't forced to play much defense in the second half, but sophomore goalie Austin Graham was much sharper. The first-year starter made six of his nine saves after the break.
For Lakeland/Panas, Sean Murphy had a breakout game with four goals, including a first-half hat-trick. Grant Perez, Ryan Bonifati, Brian Prunty and Tony Laguerre (1A) rounded out the scoring with one goal apiece. Frank Demuro and Jimmy Flaherty each added an assist. Sophomore goalie Michael Zingaro made 13 saves.
The Rebels started out strong, jumping out a 3-1 lead with 4:37 left in the opening quarter. They kept it up in the second quarter, outscoring Yorktown 4-2 to take a two-goal lead into the locker room at half.
“We caught Yorktown in a couple transition situations off bad substitutions,” Monteferante said of the hot start. “We took advantage of that. In the second half, nothing really changed. I think they played a little bit better. They are a great team. You have to play as hard as you can. You know, it didn't work out tonight but that's the way life is.”
Lakeland/Panas will look to get back on track against Putnam Valley on May 8. Yorktown — which stretched its winning streak to six games — will try and extend it against White Plains on May 7.
GAME NOTES: Lakeland/Panas relinquished a season-high 14 goals. The Rebels entered the matchup with a 5.42 goals against average … Yorktown has racked up 93 goals during its six-game winning streak … Conor Gately leads the Huskers in scoring with 68 points (25G, 43A).
Yorktown 4 2 5 3 14
Lakeland/Panas 4 4 2 0 10
LP (10:50) Chris Monteferante unassisted | 1-0 LP
YT (10:14) Joey Sialiano unassisted | 1-1
LP (7:41) Monteferante from Tony Laguerre | 2-1 LP
LP (4:37) Sean Murphy unassisted | 3-1 LP
YT (4:07) Nick Mariano from Brian Prestreau | 3-2 LP
LP (3:50) Brian Prunty from Frank Demuro | 4-2 LP
YT (2:09) Connor Vercruysse from Conor Gately | 4-3 LP
YT (0:33) Vercruysse from Gately | 4-4
LP (11:11) Murphy unassisted | 5-4 LP
LP (9:54) Grant Perez from Andrew Sofroniou | 6-4 LP
YT (8:53) Sialiano unassisted | 6-5 LP
YT (6:19) Gately unassisted | 6-6
LP (2:54) Murphy unassisted | 7-6 LP
LP (0:29) Ryan Bonifati unassisted | 8-6 LP
YT (11:17) Mariano unassisted | 8-7 LP
YT (8:24) Gately unassisted | 8-8
YT (7:41) Vercruysse from Mariano | 9-8 YT
LP (6:21) Murphy from Jimmy Flaherty | 9-9
YT (5:39) Mariano unassisted | 10-9 YT
YT (5:03) Gately unassisted | 11-9 YT
LP (3:03) Laguerre unassisted | 11-10 YT
YT (11:10) Joey Raniolo from Mariano | 12-10 YT
YT (10:14) Mariano unassisted | 13-10 YT *
YT (8:38) Frank Fusco unassisted | 14-10 YT *
* Indicates manup goal
All-time Murphy Cup results
1990: 7-6 Yorktown
1991: 9-8 Yorktown
1992: 9-3 Yorktown
1993: 12-9 Yorktown
1994: 10-6 Lakeland/Panas
1995: 9-5 Yorktown
1996: 14-6 Yorktown
1997: 6-5 Yorktown
1998: 10-9 Yorktown
1999: 5-4 Yorktown
2000: 10-3 Yorktown
2001: 16-4 Yorktown
2002: 11-3 Yorktown
2003: 16-11 Yorktown
2004: 9-3 Yorktown
2005: 12-9 Yorktown
2006: 18-9 Yorktown
2007: 10-9 Lakeland/Panas
2008: 10-9 Yorktown
2009: 11-8 Yorktown
2010: 10-7 Lakeland/Panas
2011: 11-7 Yorktown
2012: 14-10 Yorktown
Overall: Yorktown 20, Lakeland/Panas 3