April 30, 2008


Zimmerman’s Trojans are a big hit

Sophomore scores four goals in 11-6 win over CHS


Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Homer Central goalie Paul Zimmerman deflects a shot by Cortland High’s Nate Thomas during Tuesday’s OHSLlacrosse match-up. Zimmerman’s Trojans prevailed, 11-6.

Staff Writer

Carl Zimmerman likes to score goals, and the Homer Central sophomore attack also likes contact.
He got his share of both Tuesday afternoon, scoring four times and adding a pair of assists to lead the Trojans to an 11-6 victory over host Cortland. The winners, ranked seventh in the state among Class C teams, are now 9-1 in OHSL Class B play and 11-1 overall, while the Purple Tigers fell to 4-6 in the league and 6-8 overall.
“It’s always good, after scoring a goal, to get hit,” said Zimmerman, who now has 40 goals and 16 assists for 56 points (all team highs), with a grin as the visitors celebrated their victory. “It makes me feel even better. I know they’re just hitting me because they’re mad. It happened a couple of times today (neither drawing a penalty). It’s also nice when it’s not an individual effort, when the team helps out.”
While three of Homer’s goals, including one by Zimmerman, were assisted, the visitors exhibited crisp ball movement all day to go with a rugged defense, especially after CHS had erased a 2-0 deficit halfway through the first quarter to take a 3-2 lead 4:10 into the second stanza.
At that point, Trojans coach Tom Cottrell called a timeout, and his squad scored the last four goals of the first half and the first one in the third quarter to take control of the game at 7-3.
“It wasn’t a big speech,” he said of Homer’s motivation to wrest the momentum away from Cortland. “We needed to get back to what helped us build the 2-0 lead. The kids don’t panic too much when things swing like that during a game. They’re good at understanding that to beat them a team needs to play the whole 48 minutes.
“Will does a lot,” he said in reference to senior midfielder Will Connery’s faceoff prowess, “and Carl gave us a spark.”
“They scored those four unanswered goals to end the first half when we were up 3-2, two from attack and two from midfielders, three of the four unassisted,” Cortland coach John Spallone said. “We were doing some things well, but we didn’t defend very well in that stretch. We gave up five goals in the game to two of their middies (senior Talon Sprouse with three and sophomore Aaron Darr with two).
“We knew that they were a good groundball team, and they showed it (to the tune of a 46-24 advantage in that category). They work hard at it, and it shows. We’re good in the open, but not so good in a crowd. That meant a lot of possession time for them while limiting the time we had on offense. We felt that if we could limit Carl we’d be sitting better, but we couldn’t do it. It’s not like we didn’t play well, but we didn’t play well enough to beat a team as solid as Homer.”
ONE ASPECT OF the game that Spallone was happy with was faceoffs, as he noted that senior midfielder-attack Nate Thomas and senior defenseman Matt Marks combined to hold Connery to just an 11-10 advantage in that category (Thomas going 2-for-5 and Marks 8-for-16).
“Our faceoff strategy was there. What wasn’t there was our ability to defend better, especially at midfield. And our offense kept going away from what was working,” Spallone said.
Homer, meanwhile, played a disciplined game, being called for only one penalty in the contest to 10 for Cortland, though four of those were down the stretch after the final margin had been reached and the outcome decided.
“That’s something we focus on,” Cottrell said. “We work on staying aggressive but staying out of the penalty box. You can’t play too much man-down, and we try not to put ourselves in that position.”
The winners also had a 36-30 shot advantage in the contest, junior goalie Paul Zimmerman (Carl’s brother) stopping 17 shots while Cortland senior starter Travis Carruthers made seven saves in two and a half quarters and junior Jake Bryson made 11 saves in a quarter and a half.
As noted, Homer scored the first two goals of the game, sophomore attack John Sciera getting things started 3:07 in off a feed from Carl Zimmerman and Darr tallying two seconds after the midway point of the opening quarter.
Cortland got on the board when senior attack Mike Hartnett scored with 3:15 left, and tied it on a goal by Thomas 18 seconds into the second. The Purple Tigers took their only lead on a goal by senior attack Jack Spallone 4:10 into the second.
Then came the decisive stretch of the game, as Carl Zimmerman tied it at the 6:36 mark and then gave the Trojans the lead for good 1:50 later. Darr scored again with 4:10 left until halftime, and Sprouse converted a feed from Carl Zimmerman with 2L29 left.
Sprouse made it 7-4 55 seconds into the third before Cortland attack Brad Rogers made it 7-4 with 9:04 left in the third. Carl Zimmerman scored off an assist by senior midfielder Shawn Cleary with 5:28 left after John Spallone noted that Cortland had flubbed a man-up play, then overcompensated by drawing a penalty of its own to even up the sides.
Cleary (4:18 left) and Carl Zimmerman (just 16 seconds remaining) added third-period tallies to make it 10-4 heading into the fourth. The latter goal came after Cortland had lost possession by having too many men on the field.
CORTLAND’S HARTNETT got his second of the game 1:31 into the fourth, and Rogers did the same 1:22 later to make it 10-6 before Homer regained momentum and Sprouse closed out the scoring with 5:55 left.
Homer beat visiting Cortland 10-1 in the team’s first meeting April 5.
“They were playing man-down the whole fourth quarter, otherwise it would have been a 4-1 game,” Cottrell said. “We knew this one would be closer. They’ve improved and are more disciplined; today their penalties were just kids playing hard.”
“We’ve improved and they have as well,” Spallone said. “We have to work more on team defense, and began airing a few concerns in our post-game huddle. The kids know what they have to do to make it better.
“We still need two wins in our last four games to qualify for (Class B) sectionals,” Spallone said. Homer, meanwhile, will be one of the favorites in Class C, having improved immensely from last spring’s 4-14 campaign.
“We knew we’d be better,” Cottrell said. “We left some kids down (on the junior varsity) a year to mature offensively, and have gotten good senior leadership. Faceoffs and goaltending have been the keys.
“Our defense has been strong, led by our two senior captains, Vic Marchetti and Mike Carboine, who are smart, heady, classy kids. Mike Park (sophomore) played a good game defensively for us today.”
“Playing Cortland gives us extra incentive; we all know most of those guys,” Carl Zimmerman said. “We’re also a bit more intense after losing for the first time (last week at Jamesville-DeWitt). W don’t want that to happen again.”
The Homer team was sporting lime green laces in support of the HEADstrong Foundation (, founded to both fight and educate people about Lymphoma.
Both local teams return to action Thursday, Homer hosting Fulton at 7 p.m. and Cortland visiting East Syracuse-Minoa in a 6:30 p.m. start.