April 2, 2012
Purple Tigers pull out opener
Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Cortland High’s Kody Becker (5) gets side-swiped by Brian Perriello of Chittenango in the first quarter of Saturday’s season lacrosse opener. Becker had a goal and an assist as CHS rallied to win 15-12 at Moiseichik Field.
It was a good way to start the season, not to mention a head coaching job.
That was the way Matt Blaich looked at things Saturday afternoon after his Cortland High boys’ lacrosse squad took control in the fourth quarter and rallied for a 15-12 win over visiting OHSL Freedom Division opponent Chittenango in the Moiseichik Field season-opener for both squads.
“I couldn’t have asked for a more intense game,” said Coach Blaich. The former SUNY Cortland player replaced 12-year CHS head coach John Spallone, who was a part of the overall program for 37 years before retiring at the end of last season.
“These guys dug down deep in the fourth quarter; it made me proud to be their coach. This is great opportunity for coach (Brian) Donahue with the JVs and myself to start out as young coaches in a brand new stadium complex,” added Blaich.
“This team came together; they knew what they had to do. They were tired, but we told them they had to move their feet and help each other as well as move to and through picks. Chittenango is an athletic team. When we got down 11-9 (with 29 seconds left in the third quarter) the guys could have hung their heads, but they came together as a real team. They wanted it, and went after each groundball. I couldn’t have asked for any more from each and every player.”
“I’m really proud of our guys,” said first-year Chittenango coach Tim DeBlois,who took over a team that went 1-13 in league play last spring. “It was good to see how mature they were in situations like that (falling behind 3-0 quickly). They got down early, and I’m proud of how they responded.
“I think Cortland’s settled six-on-six offense was better than ours, and they took everything we had and came back. Their middies were strong all day, and we couldn’t adjust.”
It looked early on like the hosts would run away with the game, as they notched three goals in the first 2:09. Two of the scores came from senior attack Chad Timmons, who along with junior midfielder Pat McMahon led Cortland with five goals and two assists. Freshman midfielder Matt May opened the scoring 47 seconds in with his first varsity goal, assisted by junior midfielder Andrew Potter. The Bears, however, scored the next four goals, three of them in the span of 2:49, to take a 4-3 lead into the second quarter.
Potter, who finished with two goals and two assists, scored 1:15 into the second to tie the game at 4-4, and the Purple Tigers took the lead back on another goal by Timmons 7:15 before halftime. The Bears counted with a pair of goals in a nine-second span, at 4:55 and 4:46, to take a 6-5 lead into intermission.
Freshman attack Garrett Sadler, who had closed the first-half scoring, gave the visitors a 7-5 lead 1:24 into the third with the last of his four goals in the contest, and junior midfielder Stephen Billington made it 8-5 Chittenango before Potter scored at 7:33. Chittenango retook its three-goal lead 45 seconds later as junior attack Devin Phelps scored at 6:01. but Timmons answered seven seconds later and freshman midfielder Matt May converted a pass from McMahon at 2:11 to make it 110-9. Billington’s third goal of the game, with 29 seconds left, gave the visitors an 11-9 lead heading into the final 12 minutes.
That span belong to the white-clad hosts, as they scored the first five goals in the fourth, four by McMahon, to take control for good. McMahon opened the scoring in the opening moments of the fourth and then tied the game with 7:15 left before senior midfielder Kody Becker gave CHS the lead for good, off an assist from Timmons, with 6:31 left. McMahon then scored unassisted at 5:09 and on a reverse over-the-shoulder shot with 3:27 left to make it 14-11.
Chittenango junior midfielder Kyle Zimmer made it 14-12 with 2:05 left before freshman attack Anthony Ricottilli closed out the scoring a minute later.
“I was trying to help the team out,” McMahon said of his fourth-quarter heroics. “We were just looking to get the best plays we could get. We were trying to get everyone involved; we let whatever works work and just go with it. This whole team worked together well. We just decided what we had to do and played better.
“Coach Blaich told us before the fourth quarter to put our minds to it if we wanted to win, and to do what we had to do. We say to each other that family is the most important thing and that we have to have each other’s backs. You have to do the right thing for everyone instead of just yourself.”
“Once we took the lead (at 11-10) we knew we had it, that we had to stick together and make the extra pass,” Timmons said. “It was a great game to start the season; all-around we played really well. I had a lot of guys feeding me. We got really psyched up by some big hits and great passing, and in the second half we moved a lot more.
“We started quickly and they came back before we slowed things down and starting making extra passes to regroup. Coach Blaich is doing a great job. We’re well-conditioned and ready. He keeps us in check.”
The Purple Tigers won 24 of the game’s 30 faceoffs and had a 43-22 shot advantage. Senior goalie Casey Bergeron started and made seven saves in all; junior Kevin Parker stopped two shots in the first 5:12 of the third quarter before Bergeron came back in. Chittenango sophomore Connor Shea made 11 saves.
“It’s hard for any new coach to replace someone who’s been at a place so long,” Blaich said of stepping into Spallone’s old position. “The community, parents and players have bought into the system, and you couldn’t ask for a better coaching staff.”
Dan Caughey is the varsity assistant varsity coach, and Al Ricottilli is the JV assistant. Jim Brown is the head coach of the Modified team.
CORTLAND JVs also beat visiting Chittenango in its opener, 12-2, as Eustan DiIorio scored five goals to lead the way. Brian Litzenberger had three goals and an assist while Adam Gutierrez scored twice, Brett Timmons had a goal and two assists and Connor Caughey scored one goal. Quinn Mulhern made five saves and Jack Hearn stopped three shots as they shared time in the Purple Tiger nets.
Both Cortland teams visit Whitesboro on Tuesday and New Hartford on Thursday, all four games starting at 5 p.m. They then both host Homer Central this Saturday in non-league action, the varsity starting at 10 a.m.and the JVs at noon on the Moiseichik Field turf.
To read this article and more, pick up today's Cortland Standard
Click here to subscribe