May 25, 2011


CHS, Homer take semifinal steps

Purple Tigers ward off late comeback by CBA

LacrosseJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
Cortland High’s Austan DiIorio (2) braces for impact while being pursued out of bounds in the third quarter Tuesday by members of the CBA team, including Joey Dalfola (9) at SUNY Cortland. The Purple Tigers advanced to the Section 3 Class C seminfinals with an 11-10 victory.

Sports Editor

So these Cortland High lacrosse boys can win a close one, too.
That ability is not something the Purple Tigers have needed to display very much this season, though on Tuesday evening in the Section 3 Class C quarterfinals the third seeds’ mettle was certainly put to the test. Cortland had to survive some frantic final moments before holding off Syracuse CBA for an 11-10 victory at the SUNY Cortland Stadium Complex.
Though the Purple Tigers went scoreless over the final 14 minutes of play while seeing a five-goal lead whittled away, goalie Casey Bergeron and his CHS defensive mates survived some anxious final moments when The Brothers created plenty of chances to send this game into overtime.
Senior attackman Dave Fernandes scored four goals doing the dirty work in front of the Skaneateles crease, attackman Phil Potter was a steadying senior influence running the offense with three goals and an assist, sophomore Andrew Potter continued gobbling up faceoffs and the Purple Tigers improved to 14-4 on the season.
Austan DiIorio, T.J. Bardsley, Colby Reagan and Chad Timmons also scored goals in a victory that sends the Purple Tigers into Thursday night’s Class C semifinal doubleheader on Syracuse CBA’s home turf. Cortland will face second-seed Skaneateles (16-1) at 5 p.m., followed by fifth-seed Homer Central (15-3) taking on top-seed Cazenovia (16-1) at 7:30 p.m.
The semifinal survivors move on to Saturday’s 3 p.m. title game being held at Cicero-North Syracuse.
“Recently, except for J-D, we’ve pretty much wiped out every single team, so this was good competition,” said CHS junior goalie Bergeron of the test Syracuse CBA provided. The Purple Tigers came into this game having won six of their last seven games in convincing fashion, the exception being a loss at undefeated Jamesville-DeWitt — the No. 1 ranked Class B team in the state.
“I definitely think this will get us ready for Skaneateles, because they’re a good team and they’re going to be very competitive,” added Bergeron, who had 14 saves in goal.
“We haven’t had a game like this before, so we had to see how it feels,” added Fernandes, who has scored a team-high 49 goals this spring. “Hopefully they won’t be close, but you have to be prepared.”
YOUTHFUL CBA FINISHED 11-7 on the season, two losses to Skaneateles among those seven setbacks. Junior Joey Dalfo scored four goals, junior Nick Papayankos had five assists to go along with a goal and sophomore Cody Radziewicz scored the final three goals of the game to give his side a chance for a memorable comeback.
“You have to play four quarters at this level,” said Syracuse CBA coach Mike Stagnitta, who felt a first half dry spell cost his team after grabbing an early 3-1 lead. “When you get behind five and then have to come back... I mean our kids are good. I give them all the credit in the world. I’m proud of my kids.”
The last Radziewicz goal, shot from his knees, came with 1:14 left to play. And more CBA chances arrived before time ran out.
“I said to the kids, what I’m really thrilled about is the fact we had to play great defense against a very good offensive team for what, about a minute and a half, to minutes? We had to preserve the win at the defensive end of the field,” said CHS coach John Spallone.
“Yeah, we should have gotten a few more goals in the cage, but their goalie, Dom Facciponte, he played great,” added Spallone, the CBA junior with 16 saves. “But Bergeron, he played great too, so that was one heck of a quarterfinal game right there. Both teams go away pretty proud of their effort and fortunately we go away still able to continue on.”
A pair of four-goal spurts by CHS loomed large in this contest.
The Brothers were 4-2 leaders when Dalfo scored with 5:07 left in a wild opening quarter, only to have Andrew Potter win the following faceoff and set up brother Phil Potter for a shot from the left wing that got that goal back just five seconds later.
CHS tied it at 4-4 when a Timmons pass intended for a teammate missed the mark but ended up in Fernandes’ stick for a point-blank putaway, and with just under two minutes to go in the first quarter midfielder Bardsley lugged his long pole downfield to score a transition goal that gave the hosts their first lead at 5-4.
When Fernandes scooped in a ground ball in front of the CBA crease after things had cooled down a bit in the second stanza, Cortland had reeled off four straight goals to lead 6-4. Syracuse CBA’s Willie Walker and Cortland’s Phil Potter exchanged goals before halftime arrived with the Purple Tigers up 7-5.
DALFO’S FOURTH TALLY pulled The Brothers within 7-6 in the third quarter when CHS went on its second four-goal spurt — Fernandes, Reagan, Timmons and Phil Potter getting those goals. No one expected, with CHS ahead 11-6 with 2:32 still left in the third quarter, that the Purple Tigers scoring for this evening was over.
The late CBA revival came despite being flagged for four penalties in the fourth quarter, which enabled the Purple Tigers to chew up some precious clock time.
“We were able to take advantage of those late penalties and really utilize them to burn clock,” said Coach Spallone. “Maybe in hindsight we should have tried to score, but you know what, percentage-wise that was what to do.”
A man-up Radziewicz goal with 7:27 left to play cut the CHS lead to a perilous 11-9 with 7:27 left to go. After creating a CHS turnover with three minutes left to play, Radziewicz bounced a shot off the crossbar before Bergeron came up with a save with 1:50 remaining.
Moments later a failed CHS clearing attempt led to Radziewicz’s final goal. The Brothers won the next faceoff, too, and misfired on two more chances. And just when it seemed CHS had finally escaped, a penalty at midfield against the Purple Tigers with 9.4 ticks on the clock gave The Brothers a last gasp.
A decent shot with four seconds left missed the mark, however, and CBA could not pull the trigger again.
“We got a little relaxed and, you know, they’ve got a lot of firepower, a lot of firepower,” said Coach Spallone after the visitors rallied. “Their attack, Radziewicz and Papayankos, are excellent. They move continuously and we kept losing them at times.”


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