May 5, 2016
Red Dragons keep clicking
Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
SUNY Cortland defender Ethan Parks (99) tracks down the ball past SUNY Potsdam’s Matt Kennedy (25) in the first quarter Wednesday.
One constant factor being featured during this late-season SUNY Cortland lacrosse success has been getting everyone involved offensively.
That impressive trend continued in the SUNY Athletic Conference men’s playoff semifinals on Wednesday afternoon, when 16 different Red Dragons contributed points to a lopsided 22-7 victory over visiting Potsdam.
“We’re playing really unselfish now. That’s been a big key for us the past few weeks, unselfish play and ball movement,” said head coach Steve Beville following top-seed Cortland’s ninth consecutive victory since the month of April arrived, a surge that that his team now 12-5 overall and brimming with confidence.
“They’re truly unselfish, and we’re real proud of the boys for having that kind of attitude,” added Beville. “They’re playing for each other. There’s no me and there’s no I. It’s everybody looking out for each other, and we’re hitting the open man.”
Cortland has outscored its last three conference victims by a 61-17 margin, which bodes well for Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. championship game when second-seed Brockport provides the title game opposition at this same Stadium Complex site.
Brockport got past visiting Plattsburgh 7-6 in the other semifinal played yesterday, setting up the championship match-up where the winner earns an automatic spot in the NCAA Division III tournament that begins next week.
The Red Dragons began this recent stretch of success with an 11-3 win at Brockport back on April 2, and hopes to duplicate that outcome to keep this turnaround going after getting off to a 3-5 start.
“I don’t think we weren’t doing it early on, but we weren’t doing it with the efficiency we’re doing now,” said Beville. “And some of the guys are getting healthy, which is nice too. To have Ryan Mahon healthy and Nate Beresovoy healthy, it makes a big difference. So they’re playing at a high level now.”
Sophomore Beresovoy contributed four goals and three assists to this taming of the Bears (10-6) from Potsdam, while classmate Mahon had a three-goal hat trick to go along with an assist.
Attackman Zach Hopps also became the school’s all-time career assist leader. He came into the game having just become Cortland’s all-time scoring leader, and added three goals and four assists to that total.
Even Hopps attributed his accomplishments — the senior now with 279 career points on 152 goals and 127 assists — to his teammates.
“They started to look for me more,” he said of being helped out once the school record got closer. “I appreciate that from my team. It’s all them. They did everything for me to get open.”
THIS GAME WAS tied at 1-1 when Mahon and Potsdam junior attack Barkley Stone exchanged early goals. The next nine goals were all scored by Cortland — including two more Mahon connections — to build a 10-1 lead that was never challenged by the Bears.
Even a couple of Cortland long-pole defenders got into the scoring mode, senior Anthony Vaccaro and junior Eli Kenney. Long-stick midfielder Vaccaro converted a Devin Phelps pass into an 8-1 lead just 2:37 into the second quarter. Cortland then scored twice within a 10-second span for that 10-1 advantage, Beresovoy diving in front of the crease to score off a Mahon pass before faceoff wingman Kenney connected from close range off the ensuing faceoff from a Hopps assist.
Cortland’s defense contributed in other ways, too — especially in shutting down top Potsdam scorers Eric Soderquist and Pat Bonafede.
Junior defender David Foster kept Soderquist quiet, though the Potsdam sophomore attackman did score twice late in the fourth quarter when Cortland was well into emptying its bench including using four different goalies.
Bonafede was blanked, as long-stick midfielder Trevor Pratt — the sophomore son of former Homer Central and Syracuse University All-America defender Danny Pratt who arrived on campus from Colorado — was the main man assigned to ruin the day for the Bears’ second leading scorer.
Having the majority of their 19 turnovers being unforced miscues did not bode well for the visitors, either. Brian Martin led Potsdam with two goals and an assist.
MEANWHILE, CORTLAND WAS firing off 54 shots and pretty much scoring at will — including a 6-0 third quarter skunking that built a commanding 16-3 advantage. Beresovoy tallied twice and picked up a pair of assists in that stanza, while Hopps had a goal and two assists.
“We came together as a team,” said Hopps, who had just been named SUNYAC and ECAC Division III Metro/Upstate Offensive Player of the Week after contributing 13 points in the last two Cortland wins.
“We had the talent that we needed,” insisted Hopps. “From the last four years that I’ve been here, this is one of the most talented teams. We just needed to put it all together. I think our chemistry is coming together really well.”
That was displayed by the long list of Cortland scorers, starting with Liam Erickson netting a pair of goals. Phelps, Cory Becker, Ethan Printy, TJ deLyra, faceoff man Gino Prestigiacomo, McLaren Brady, Tyler Brown and Joey Panariello were all goal-scoring contributors.
So Cortland is ready for the Brockport rematch, who survived when John Countryman broke a 6-6 tie with a fourth quarter goal off an assist from Homer Central alum Casey Cleary. Brockport has former Trojans Cleary, Austin Recor and Brad Sovocool all on its roster.
“They beat a good Plattsburgh team, so we know they’re going to be fired up and they’re going to be ready,” said Coach Beville of facing the Golden Eagles.
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