May 28, 2010


Great escape for Tigers

Big Cortland High rally stuns IHC in double OT

LaxBob Ellis/staff photographer
T.J. Bardsley of Cortland High holds his finger up as teammate Dave Fernandes (27) leaps on top of him after Bardsley scored the game winning goal in double overtime to beat Watertown IHC 12-11 in Thursday’s Section 3 Class C playoff game.

Staff Writer

It looked for all intents and purposes like it was game, and season, over for the Cortland High boys’ lacrosse team in its Section 3 Class C quarterfinal contest with visiting Watertown IHC Thursday afternoon.
On a torrid afternoon, the fifth-seeded Cavaliers had pretty much had their way with No. 4 CHS, and were up 9-3 with 3:03 left in the third quarter, having scored five of the first six second-half goals after being up 4-2 at halftime. With just 15 minutes standing between them and having to turn in their gear the next day and wonder what might have been, the Purple Tigers exploded.
Two late goals, from junior midfielder Austan DiIorio and junior midfielder Colby Reagan (from DiIorio) made it 9-5 after the third, and the hosts outscored IHC 6-2 in the fourth, senior attackman Brandon Planck scoring with 43 seconds left to tie the score at 11-11 and send the game to overtime.
After one scoreless four-minute sudden-death extra session, and with the second one winding down, junior midfielder T.J. Bardsley controlled a loose ball and scored from 15 yards out with 1:03 left to give Cortland a hard-earned 12-11 win. The Purple Tigers, now 14-4, advanced to face top-seeded Skaneateles, the second-ranked C team in the state, in the semifinals in a 3 p.m. start Saturday at Cicero-North Syracuse. The Lakers improved to 17-0 Thursday night with a 16-4 semifinal victory over No. 9 seed Tully.
“When DiIorio and Reagan scored at the end of the third to get us back to 9-5 everyone was a little excited,” said Cortland coach John Spallone. “Those were big goals. And when we scored the first three goals of the fourth to make it 9-8, the crowd was wild and into it, and the kids thrived on that. Their attitude was ‘12 minutes or else,’ and it was a vintage fourth-quarter effort on their part. We’ve been doing that all year long.
“We wanted to extend our defense and run every chance we got. We pushed the pace instead of being methodical like they were.”
Planck opened the fourth-quarter scoring just 17 seconds in after freshman midfielder Andrew Potter won the faceoff, which he did seven of eight times in the final quarter alone. Planck converted an assist from junior attackman Phil Potter 52 seconds later to make it 9-7, and when Reagan beat IHC senior goalie Andrew Hauk off an assist from Bardsley it was suddenly a one-goal game with 9:56 left.
IHC then reasserted itself, as freshman attackman Matt Moran scored with 8:32 left and sophomore midfielder Joe Spooner beat Cortland senior netminder Eric Burch with 8:12 left to make it 11-8 for the visitors. It would be the Cavaliers’ last goal of the game.
“AFTER SPENDING ALL that energy coming back, then to have them go up 11-8,” Spallone said with a shake of the head. “But there was plenty of time left.” Fernandes made it 11-9 with 6:15 left off an assist from senior defender Jerrod Mahar, at which point the visitors decided to start to drain the clock. It wasn’t until just 1:01 remained that Fernandes scored the next goal, from close in on the right-wing side on an assist by Planck, to make it 11-10.
After a stick check requested by IHC coach Jerry Standford proved fruitless, Andrew Potter won the ensuing faceoff and Planck tied the score off a Phil Potter assist with 43 seconds left. The Cavaliers won the ensuing faceoff but were called for a crease violation with five seconds left, sending the game to overtime.
IHC won the faceoff to start the first extra period, but Cortland sophomore defender Clay Fickenscher intercepted a high pass, Bardsley popping right back up after a vicious hit just as he received on the ensuing clear. Cortland had control for most of the rest of the four minutes, taking four shots but failing to score. A late IHC shot was blocked by the CHS defense and the Cavaliers were whistled for being in the crease with 21 seconds left.
IHC also won the faceoff that started the second overtime period, but senior defenseman Pat Sherman forced IHC senior attackman Tom Burgess out of bounds over the end line early on. Cortland then lost the ball out of bounds itself before the visitors were called for an offsides with 2:59 left. Cortland came up empty with four shots, Hauk stopping senior midfielder and Dan Miller in rapid succession in that span, before Bardsley corralled a loose ball and hit the upper right-wing corner of the net with 1:03 left, all of his teammates rushing to pile on top of him in celebration as various Cavaliers stood, bent over, or slumped to the ground in disbelief.
“We had a play set up coming from behind the net, but there was a missed pass and I was lucky to be there and got the shot,” Bardsley said of his 25th, and biggest, goal of the season. “Their goalie had been good all game low, so I figured I’d go high to change it up, and it worked out. The comeback was just all heart. We got together during a couple of timeouts and talked about what we had to do. We just kept going.
“As the defense stepped up at the end, it gave the offense some opportunities and we took advantage of that.”
PLANCK, WHO SCORED three of the hosts’ last eight goals leading to overtime and now has a team-high 50 on the season, noted that “We were kind of forcing things for awhile before we started playing our game.
“If it wasn’t for Phil Potter there wouldn’t have been any of those goals,” he added, Potter with three assists in the game to hike his team-high season total 59. “Drew Potter and Bardsley did a good job on faceoffs. This was awesome, and fun. I think it was fun for the fans, too.”
CHS had a 16-11 faceoff advantage on the day.
Bardsley and Planck each had three goals and an assist in the game, while Fernandes had three goals, Reagan scored twice, DiIorio had a goal and an assist, Phil Potter three assists and Mahar one assist. Senior attackman Rob Kunz had three goals and two assists, Spooner three goals and an assist and Burgess two goals and an assist to pace IHC.
“We didn’t have a lot of guys, and lost an attackman (junior Andrew Guyette) in the first couple of minutes to dehydration, so our numbers were even lower,” said IHC coach Jerry Standford, whose team finished the season at 13-5.”But Cortland played in the same heat we did, and they handled it a little better while we made some mistakes.
“Andrew played a good game and kept us in it early,” he added. “They could have been up five or six goals in the first quarter. We had four goals at halftime on six shots, and they had two goals on 22 shots. They ran the same stuff after it got to 9-3, didn’t change anything, but we started to get nervous and tried to do too much, helping and sliding when we didn’t need to and giving them a lot of open looks. Cortland’s a good team, and when they have the ball they’re going to score.”
“That was as good a goalie as we’ve seen all season,” Spallone said of Hauk, who made 14 saves to four for Burch as the winners had a 48-19 shot advantage. “A team needs to learn how to win close games, and experienced teams do that. Our close defense with (senior Derek) Keegan, Mahar, Sherman and (junior Brian) Strough did a great job, got lots of turnovers and helped us get back in it. And (senior Dan) Miller played well at midfield; he, Fickenscher and Mahar elevated their games in the fourth and the overtimes.
“We have noting to lose and everything to gain against Skaneateles. “We scrimmaged them before the season and they handled us. They’ve got a great coaching staff and kids. I know they’re better now, but we are too, and are playing great with a lot of confidence. Our team, our lacrosse family — the total support of the program — is back in place. Cortland lacrosse is where we want it to be.”