March 29, 2008
Purple Tigers poised to grab Guido Tourney title
Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Cortland High defender Jesse Brown (24) checks Lowville’s Corey Ryan (6) in the first quarter of Friday night’s GuidoInvitational first round game at SUNY Cortland. CHS advanced to finals with 17-8 victory. Chenango Forks defeated Horseheads 11-8 in the other opening night contest and will face the Purple Tigers at 6 p.m. today.
Things didn’t look good early on (so to speak) for the Cortland High boys’ lacrosse team Friday night.
The Purple Tigers trailed Lowville 5-1 with 6:01 left until halftime in the first round of the fifth annual Dave Guido Invitational Tournament at the SUNY Cortland Stadium Complex, in a game that didn’t get underway until just before 10 p.m. due to weather-related delays.
From that point on, however, it was all Cortland, as the hosts scored five goals in a span of 3:43 to take a 6-5 halftime lead and were even more dominant in the second half in what ended up a 17-8 victory over the Red Raiders.
CHS will meet Chenango Forks, an 11-8 winner over Horseheads in the opening game, for the championship at 6 p.m. today following the 4 p.m. consolation contest.
“I took a timeout after Lowville went up 4-1 and told the kids that there was some poor decision making with the ball and that we were being outworked on groundballs,” Cortland coach John Spallone said. “We weren’t doing the right things when we had the opportunities, and playing poor defensive position-wise. Their game plan was to take a lot of time with the ball and frustrate us, and it was working.
“I said that we had to outwork them and get out of the hole we were in a little at a time. All of the sudden we won some faceoffs and groundballs. Lowville is a better team (than Johnson City, which CHS beat 16-5 Wednesday at Tompkins Cortland CC to open the season) that we didn’t know a lot about coming in, and I’m pretty happy with the way the kids responded to the challenge, pulled together, got scrappy and started to assert themselves a little bit, worked hard and converted opportunities,” he added.
The upperclassmen paced the winners offensively. Attack-midfielder Jack Spallone led the way with four goals and five assists, while midfield-attack Nate Thomas and attack-midfielder Brad Rogers had three goals and an assist apiece and midfielder-attack Mike Hartnett had three goals. Defender Matt Marks scored twice and attack-midfielder Brian Sypher had a goal and an assist, while defender Jesse Brown scored once and sophomore attack-midfielder Dan Miller had one assist.
“We started out slow, I think a little bit because of the cold, plus it was our first home game and we want to try to win the tournament,” said Spallone, CHS out for its first Guido title after East Syracuse-Minoa won the inaugural event before Syracuse CBA won the next three.
“Lowville came to play and was physical,” he added. “Their offense held the ball so we didn’t get much offense in the beginning. But our defense picked it up and we won some faceoffs, so were able to get things going. It was big to get the lead before halftime. The transition goal by Jesse (Brown) started us off, and things opened up inside so it was easier to find guys and the goals started to come.”
Spallone’s first goal, off an assist by Thomas just past the midway point of the opening stanza, was the only blip in the visitors’ early onslaught. Brown started the Purple Tiger comeback with the aforementioned transition goal 4:55 before halftime, Thomas scoring at 3:29 to make it 5-3 before Hartnett found the net twice in a span of 25 seconds, Spallone with the assist on the first tally, to tie it at 5-5 with 2:03 left.
Spallone gave Cortland its first lead, which it never relinquished, with 1:12 left until intermission. The second half was all CHS, as the hosts scored the first two goals of the third quarter and, after a Lowville tally, added nine more in a row, the last with just 2:36 left in the game. Another exchange of single tallies accounted for the final margin.
“We had offensive guys, and six players in all, score goals, and you have to like that,” John Spallone said. “Having that many layers that can score makes it tough to cover us defensively.”
Brown was the lone defender to score, in his first game with the team after getting a late start with practices due to playing junior hockey in Canada this winter.
“It was nice to have Jesse back,” the coach added. “He plays good, aggressive defense and can get upfield and, because of hockey, knows how to make plays. Matt (Marks) also had a nice game; he promotes a lot of transition with the way he runs the field and plays solid defense.”
Senior attack-midfielder Matt Gravely had two goals and an assist and senior midfielder Dustin O’Brien scored twice to lead Lowville. The hosts had a 40-24 shot advantage and won 16 of the 28 faceoffs, led by Marks (7-for-12) and Thomas (6-for-10). The Red Raiders had a 39-31 advantage in groundballs.
CHS senior goalie Travis Carruthers made 10 saves before junior Jake Bryson stopped two shots in the final 4:30. Lowville goalie Shane Roberts made 11 saves.
Chenango Forks 11, Horseheads 8: Chenango Forks junior attack Tyler Gill scored with 2:30 left in the game to break an 8-8 tie and the Blue Devils scored twice more down the stretch for the final margin. Junior midfielder Matt Pratt had two goals and four assists for the winners, while Gill had two goals and an assist and senior midfielder-attack Dustin Sturdevant and junior attack Tom Markham two goals each.
Junior attacks Dan Elliott and Mike Connors scored three and two goals, respectively, for Horseheads. Chenango Forks had a 41-19 shot advantage and won 15 of the 22 faceoffs, while Horseheads had a 38-37 edge in groundballs. Junior Colin Wheeler made 10 saves to 19 for Horseheads’ Bert Olin.
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