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March 25, 2010

 

Unstoppable Dragons whip Nazareth

LacrosseBob Ellis/staff photographer
Greg Wright of SUNY Cortland puts the Red Dragons’ 14th goal past Nazareth goalie Todd Dermody in the third quarter of the hosts’ 17-10 win Wednesday afternoon.

By ALAN BUTLER
Sports Editor

Opening this lacrosse season playing three times against Top 10 opposition was hardly the easiest of tasks for SUNY Cortland men.
But that stringent early schedule stretch, featuring close neutral field losses to perennial powers Gettysburg and Salisbury, is now paying huge dividends. Since getting off to a 1-2 start the Red Dragons have been practically unstoppable, including this 17-10 Wednesday whipping of visiting Nazareth College.
How dominating were the defending NCAA Division III champions on this sunny and chilly afternoon at the SUNY Cortland Stadium Complex?
Well, the Red Dragons already scored four times before Nazareth got off its very first shot. By halftime the Cortland lead was a comfy 10-2. The Red Dragons out-shot the Golden Flyers 31-10 over those opening 30 minutes, while junior Justin Battino was responsible for the hosts winning 11 of the first 14 faceoffs taken.
The damage done by fourth-ranked Cortland came against a respectable Nazareth squad that qualified for the NCAA tournament a year ago. The Golden Eagles were ranked 12th in the most recent national poll, arriving from the Rochester suburb of Pittsford with four victories and an overtime loss to Geneseo on its 2010 resume.
Cortland (4-2) has now knocked off three consecutive foes in lopsided fashion, scoring 51 times. And this game would have been more lopsided if Nazareth (4-2) had not tucked away the game’s final four goals in the fourth quarter against Red Dragon reserves to narrow the final deficit.
“No question our tough schedule has made a big difference for us, in knowing what to expect and getting a high intensity level of play. That’s why we do it,” said Cortland coach Steve Beville. “They’ve played some good teams too, but I thought our middies were just too tough for them.”
“We have a lot of different weapons, a lot of different guys to go to,” said senior Brandon Misiaszek, one of those dangerous midfielders who had three goals and two assists.
“Our offense is pretty powerful,” the team captain out of New Hartford added. “We only lost (All-America midfielder) Joe Morgan from last year, so we’ve got a lot of powerful weapons to turn to with a lot of experience.”
Sophomore attackman Mike Tota also scored three times, while fellow attackman Jay DiStefano and Brian Krol each tallied twice. Senior Tom Burke helped Cortland’s midfield domination with a goal and two assists, while Pat Hayes, Neal Hopps, Greg Wright and long-stick midfielder Jack Kennedy all scored.
Oh yes... and junior midfielder Chris DuLuca had two goals, too, after arriving to the game from a hospital visit.“WE DIDN’T THINK he would even go, but he was able to get in there and help our offense out,” said Coach Beville, DuLuca recovering from a bit of food poisoning.
Tota benefited from some crisp pass-work to score point-blank goals off assists from Misiaszek and DiStefano, Misiaszek found the upper corner with a shot and DeLuca ripped the mesh with a man-up goal to get Cortland off to that 4-0 start.
Tota completed his hat-trick before the first quarter was over thanks to a nifty cross-crease pass from Hopps. Nazareth got on the scoreboard late in the opening stanza when senior attackman Mark DeCirce out of Binghamton scored the first of his three goals during a man-up scoring chance — two Red Dragons sitting out penalties at the time.
That first Nazareth goal came after a scramble in front of the crease following a pair of nifty saves by freshman goalie Mike Kaminski.
Starting with a Burke goal off a faceoff won by Battino to begin the second stanza, the Red Dragons reeled off the next five goals from the sticks of five different players and this game was pretty much over.
“Early on we set the tone right away with some great middie play,” said Beville. “Our midfielders basically had their way with them and that was a great key for us. I thought Burke was awesome today.
“Battino was tremendous on the faceoffs in the first three quarters,” he added, the junior out of Plainview winning 17-of-26 on the day to go along with nine ground ball pick-ups. “It was a great team effort. It helps when you’ve got balance and a lot of people who can score. We wore them down. We knew they had to do that because they had some dangerous players. If you keep the ball out of their hands they’re not going to score.”
Kaminski finished with 11 saves before classmate Bobby Whitmarsh finished up. “We ask our goalies to be consistent and he’s been giving us that,” said Beville of starting Kaminski.
THE RED DRAGON defense led by 6-foot-5 Justin Schneidman, and helped out by middies Burke, Kennedy and Eric Parah, were pretty stingy. Leading Nazareth scorer Joe Jacobs-Ferderbar was held in check until that late Nazareth scoring success with Cortland starters sitting.
“Our defense is great,” said Misiaszek. “They’ve been holding them to minimal goals these last few games. The fourth quarter we fell apart a little bit, but throughout the last few games we’ve been scoring quite a bit and holding them to just a few. It’s been just an overall great effort.”
Cortland hopes to continue this high-scoring trend with three straight road trips up next, starting with next Wednesday’s game against an RIT squad now coached by former Homer Central and Nazareth goalie Jake Coon.
The Red Dragons don’t return home until Geneseo visits on April 14 in a match-up that usually decides first place in the SUNY Athletic Conference.
Thanks to those stiff early tests, Cortland appears ready to handle any challenge.
“ It gets us prepared at the beginning of the season, gives us some good competition, some good match-ups to go against and kind of lets us know where we’re at,” said Misiaszek of learning from those early losses. “It was a little reality check. We had some work to do and we still have some work to do.”