March 31, 2008


CHS title hopes dashed by Forks

Staff Writer

Live by the comeback, die by the comeback.
One chilly night after roaring back from a 5-1 deficit to score a 17-8 win over Lowville in the opening round of the fifth annual Dave Guido Invitational Tournament, the Cortland High boys’ lacrosse team was on the other end Saturday.
The Purple Tigers led Chenango Forks 6-4 at halftime in the championship game, but were outscored 8-1 in the second half as the Blue Devils went back down Route 81 with a 12-7 win and the title trophy. The Purple Tigers have never won the tournament since it began in 2004, finishing second three times and third twice.
Horseheads, which had lost to Chenango Forks 11-8 in Friday’s other first-round game, beat Lowville 12-9 in the consolation contest.
“Hustle and solid defense were the keys for us in the second half,” said Blue Devils coach Mark Freije, whose squad is now 2-0. “We told the kids at halftime not to do anything that would cause us to lose the ball, such as passing into traffic. We settled down and controlled the ball; they went to 1-4-1 defensive zone, and we were able to get good movement on the ball.
“Cortland is a very good team; this was a good matchup for us. Both games were tough, and I’m happy for the boys. They’re easy to coach, and make us (coaching staff) look good.”
“We went up 7-4 early in the second half, and from that point on we had 10 penalties the rest of the way,” Purple Tigers coach John Spallone said after his team had fallen to 2-1. “That took us out of doing the things that are effective for us and made it difficult to produce any transition.
“They’re a good team that plays hard, and what they did right had a lot to do with what happened. But what we did wrong, especially with penalties, hurt us, too; we were constantly covering for penalties in the second half. And we lost (senior midfielder) Brian Sypher to a rib injury early in the third quarter, which hurt us when we were man-up. They reacted very well to our 1-4-1 and countered what we were doing. We picked up a lot of our penalties on loose balls after being beaten to them.”
Forks had a 37-28 edge in ground balls for the game. The winners also controlled 15 of the game’s 23 faceoffs.
Blue Devils senior midfielder Joe Aston opened the scoring 1:57 into the contest before CHS scored the next three goals, senior attack Matt Rogers (assisted by senior midfielder Brian Sypher), senior midfielder Nate Thomas and sophomore attack-midfielder Brandon Planck (first varsity goal, off a Rogers assist) finding the net. Junior midfielder Ryan Freije and senior midfielder-attack Dustin Sturdevant then tied the game at 3-3, where it stayed at the end of the first quarter.
Rogers got his second goal of the game 1:42 into the second off an assist from senior attack Jack Spallone, and Thomas made it 5-3 with just 3:40 left until halftime. Junior at- attack-midfielder Tyler Gill scored the Chenango Forks 1:22 later to make it a one-goal game again at 5-4, and Rogers completed his hat trick by scoring unassisted just 17.1 seconds before the horn to account for the halftime score.
It took 55 seconds for Cortland senior defender Matt Pitcher to open the second-half scoring, but that was the last time the Purple Tigers would have a chance to celebrate.
Attackman Tom Markham (man-up goal), midfielder Matt Pratt and midfielder John DeOrdio, all juniors, scored for the Blue Devils in a span of 3:20 tie the game again at 7-7. Markham then scored what proved to be the game-winner off an assist by Aston with 3:07 left in the third before DeOrdio scored off a Sturdevant assist to make it 9-7 to close out the third-quarter scoring.
“The ball came to me and I didn’t see anyone open,” Markham said of his deciding tally, so I decided to shoot it to the open side, and it went in. When they went to their 1-4-1 zone we were able to spread the ball out. We weren’t shooting very well in the first half.”
The first goal of the fourth quarter, by Pratt, didn’t come until 4:57 remained in the game, and after Mat Mirabito notched a man-up tally off an assist by Sturdevant with 1:37 left the same two combined for the last goal, in reversed roles, 25 seconds later.
The final couple of minutes of the game were physical and chippy as Cortland frustrations boiled over. Of his team’s rash of second-half penalties, Spallone noted the majority were for slashing or illegal checks. “It showed a lack of discipline,” he said.
“We had seven goals and only three assists tonight. We have been able to move the ball, and our high number of assists (23 on 33 goals coming in) reflected that. Going one-on-one with the goalie isn’t our strength. We’re going to work on moving the ball, which is the way to react to defensive pressure.”
CHS senior goals Travis Carruthers made 17 saves in the contest to 15 for Chenango Forks junior netminder Colin Wheeler as the hosts had a 33-30 shot advantage.
As for another year without the tournament trophy, Spallone noted: “I know they kids were disappointed, especially the seniors, but I reminded them that the same thing happened to us last year and we went on to have a good season (OHSL Class B co-champions and Section 3 Class B runners-up). We have to learn from this, recognize what we did wrong and what our strengths and weaknesses are, and build from there. The league title is the next thing we’ll set our sights on, and we have three league games (this) week.”
The first is Tuesday, when Cortland meets Fulton at Central Square in a 7 p.m. start. The Purple Tigers face Whitesboro at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Tompkins Cortland CC, and then visit Homer at 6 p.m. this Saturday.
Horseheads 12, Lowville 9: Horseheads took an 11-5 lead into intermission of the consolation game and held on against Lowville, being outscored 4-1 in the second half, to even its record at 1-1. Junior attack Mike Connors led the way with three goals and two assists, while senior attack Corey Geroy scored three times.
Senior attack-midfielder Matt Graveley had four goals and three assists to lead Lowville (0-2). Junior Bert Olin turned aside 11 shots in the Horseheads net, while junior Shane Roberts made 15 saves for Lowville as the winners led in shots 31-24.