* Follow Section 1 boys lax on Twitter @MSGV_Icass *
SHRUB OAK, N.Y. — For the first 10 games of the 2012 season, Mahopac's James Schiera was no more than a short-stick defensive midfielder.
At that point, however, a sense of urgency crept into the picture. Schiera decided he wanted to be something more.
“I kind of realized one day that this is my senior year and I may never play lacrosse again,” he said. “I tried to make every day count and I didn't want to end my season early.”
It was this exact mindset that propelled No. 4-seeded Mahopac (11-7) to an 8-6 upset win over top-seeded Lakeland/Panas (11-7) in Thursday's Section 1 Class A semifinal. The new-look Schiera, who has morphed into one of the Indians' better offensive threats, led the way with three goals and an assist.
“I wanted to play offense from the beginning of the year and I was working hard all year to get there,” said Schiera, who first impressed his coaches with his ability to finish in transition.
Against the Rebels, Mahopac's newfound weapon wasted little time getting to work. Schiera bagged all three of his goals in the first quarter to help the Indians grab a commanding 5-2 lead.
“They were just fast-break goals,” Schiera said. “I think teams don't look for me to be a scorer. I'm not really on the scouting report and I took advantage of it. I ran a couple down the middle and shot it low.”
Schiera's hot start was contagious. Teammates Patrick Donahoe (2G), Tyler Weisberg (1G) and Anthony Berardis (1G) each tallied a first-half goal as Mahopac took a 6-2 lead into the break.
The furious start was a byproduct of a regular-season loss to Lakeland/Panas. Mahopac dropped a 6-5 overtime heartbreaker to the Rebels on the exact same field back in late April. Needless to say, revenge proved to be a pretty powerful supplement.
“We knew right after (the overtime loss) we were going to see (Lakeland/Panas) again in the postseason,” Hynes said. “The rest of our season we looked forward to playing them again. We had some ups-and-downs in the regular season, but we knew come playoff time we were going to peak.”
Schiera echoed the sentiment.
“We knew we didn't play our best game the first time,” he said. “We wanted to come out today and get an early lead and just hold it.”
While Mahopac managed to do just that, there were some tense moments down the stretch. The Indians opened the second half with a 2-0 run to stretch their lead to 8-2 with 4:56 left in the third quarter. And then things took a turn for the worse.
Lakeland/Panas — sensing its season slipping away — went into survival mode. The Rebels responded with a four-goal run, trimming Mahopac's lead to 8-6 with 7:48 left in regulation. Ryan Bonifati powered the surge with a pair of goals and teammates Brian Prunty (2A) and Chris Monteferante (1A) chipped in with one goal apiece.
Suddenly, defending Section 1 champ Mahopac was on the ropes. But the Indians' last line of defense, goalie Brandon Crecco, remained calm as the temperature rose. The steady netminder made nine of his 15 saves in the second half to preserve the win.
“(Crecco) is a great goalie,” Hynes said. “We couldn't do it without him.”
For the Rebels, it was a classic case of too little, too late.
“We came out flat and you can't do that in the playoffs,” said Monteferante, who will play at West Point next season. “(Mahopac) put us in a 5-1 hole and it's hard to come back from that in the playoffs — especially against a good team like Mahopac. We knew we had to win the first five minutes and we didn't. They won it and they won the game. It was as simple as that.”
Mahopac will now look to win its second straight Section 1 Class A title. The Indians will square off against No. 10-seeded Mamaroneck in the championship on Wednesday at White Plains High School.
Mahopac 5 1 2 0 8
Lakeland/Panas 2 0 1 3 6
MP (11:06) James Schiera unassisted | 1-0 MP
MP (4:06) Patrick Donahoe from Charlie Evans |2-0 MP
MP (3:45) Schiera from Ross Thompson | 3-0 MP
MP (3:21) Weisberg unassisted | 4-0 MP
LP (1:30) Frank DeMuro from Sean Murphy | 4-1 MP
MP (1:16) Schiera unassisted | 5-1 MP
LP (0:10) Tony Laguerre from Ryan Bonifati | 5-2 MP
MP (8:56) Anthony Berardis unassisted | 6-2 MP
MP (8:15) Nick Oliver from Schiera | 7-2 MP
MP (4:56) Donahoe from Thompson | 8-2 MP
LP (3:38) Brian Prunty from Chris Monteferante | 8-3 MP *
LP (11:50) Monteferante unassisted | 8-4 MP
LP (10:06) Bonifati unassisted | 8-5 MP
LP (7:48) Bonifati from Prunty | 8-6 MP
* Indicates manup goal
Mahopac: Brendan Crecco (15)
Lakeland/Panas: Mike Zingaro (11)