March 30, 2009


Forks foils CHS title bid


Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Phil Potter of Cortland High tries maintaining ball control while lying underneath Dan Grady (22) of Chenango Forks during Saturday’s Guido Invitational title game at TC3. Forks dumped CHS, 17-10.

Staff Writer

DRYDEN — The Cortland High boys’ lacrosse team had a rough assignment in facing Chenango Forks for the championship of the sixth annual Dave Guido Invitational Saturday afternoon at Tompkins Cortland Community College.
The Blue Devils, returning a solid nucleus from the squad that won the Section 4 Class B crown and lost to Carthage in the state quarterfinals on a late goal, were formidable enough in their own right. Factoring in a late Friday night for the Purple Tigers in their 9-4 semifinal win over Lowville made the hill that CHS had to climb even steeper.
While the title contest started out that way — Forks led 11-1 at halftime, and began shuttling players in and out — Cortland did stage a strong second-half rally and ended up on the short end of a relatively competitive 17-10 final score as the Blue Devils captured the event for the second straight year.
“Getting done so late last night threw us off,” Cortland coach John Spallone said, his team now 1-2 overall and having lost in the finals of the tournament the last four years after finishing third the first two. “We weren’t mentally sharp at the beginning, and they’re a good enough team to be able to capitalize on that, which is one thing we sort of expected.
“We know them from the winter and they just jumped on us.,” he added, Forks being a one of a number of teams that work out with CHS at the J.M. McDonald Sports Complex. “It’s was like being in a prize fight and getting socked in the head five or six times, then just as you’re getting your balance back getting hit some more. We can’t afford to be as weak on defense early as we were. We have to be sharper all the way through. The offense can work its way in as the game goes on, but the defense has to be good from the beginning.”
That wasn’t the case for CHS, as time and again Forks players were able to cut to the goal unhindered by any ride or were able to pass wide-open teammates for easy scores. The visitors also had a 10-3 faceoff advantage in the first half.
The second half was a different story, as each team scored three goals in the third and the Purple Tigers had a 6-3 scoring advantage in the fourth for the final margin while also closing the final faceoff margin to 17-11. Junior attackman Brandon Planck scored five of Cortland’s last seven goals and ended up with eight goals and an assist on the day, giving him team-leading totals of 17 goals, three assists and 20 points on the season.
“It’s great that Brandon had a turn in the finishing role,” Spallone said. “But I’m happier that of the 10 goals we scored, six were assisted, and that we had six assists on nine goals (Friday) night.” Sophomore attack T.J. Bardsley, who also had an assist, and junior attackman Josh Tomko had one goal apiece, the first at the varsity level for each, in the losing cause.
“Our heads weren’t in it early after the late game last night,” Planck said. “It took us a while to get back in. We picked it up and worked together as a team; our chemistry is good when we get it clicking. It was a good game for us.”
“We subbbed a lot of players in, but Cortland made a run and made some good shots,” Forks coach Mark Freije said, his team 2-0 including a 14-6 first-round win over Watertown IHC Friday evening. “That’s a good team, with some good players. They’re young, and with a little more experience I think they’ll be a contender. You can’t put a lot of stock in a game this early in the season.
“I thought, though, that we had good ball movement and did a good job of back-dooring it on offense, with some good assists. Our offense worked very well. We’d talked about ball control. we also did a good job defensively, holding them to four shots in the first half,” he added, Forks getting off 19 shots in the half and ending up with a 33-19 advantage in that department. “(Senior) Cory Owens is actually our backup goalie — our starter, Colin Wheeler, is out with a knee injury — and he did a great job for us.”
Owens made three saves while classmate Larry VanHorn stopped two shots and allowed four goals in a five-minute relief stint in the fourth. Cortland junior goalie Eric Burch made 10 saves.
The winners were led in scoring by senior midfielder Matt Pratt, who had four goals and an assist. Senior attackmen Tyler Gill and Tom Markham had three goals each, Gill also with an assist. Senior midfielders John DeOrdio and Ryan Freije had two goals and two assists apiece.
“This is what we’ve worked for,” Pratt said. “We came into the season looking to go as far as we could; we want to redeem ourselves after the way last season ended. We’ve been working hard, and so far things are going good. We know people will be gunning for us, so we have to keep on working.”
“I think today will help us going into the next game,” Spallone said, CHS facing Chenango Valley at 7 p.m. Tuesday back at TC3. “Hopefully the kids will feel that their work pays off and gain confidence in the fact that they have the ability to produce goals.”
Watertown IHC 9, Lowville 5: In the consolation game, senior attackman Michael McGraw leading the way with three goals and an assist and classmate Marcus Emerson, also an attackman, scoring twice and adding five assists as the Cavaliers improved to 1-1. Sophomores Cody Carpenter (midfielder) and Mark Nortz (attackman) scored twice each for Lowville, now 0-2.