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May 29, 2009

 

Trojans take center stage

Coach Cottrell wins 100th game to begin tourney play

TrojansJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
Homer Central’s Paul Armideo fires a shot in the first quarter against Lowville’s Joey Snyder (12) during Thursday’s Class C tournament opener at Butts Field. The Trojans cruised to a 18-5 victory behind Armideo’s six goals.

By TOM VARTANIAN
Staff Writer

Everyone played a role and everyone shined on the George W. Butts Field stage one final time in 2009 for Homer Central boys.
Leading man honors were shared by senior Paul Armideo, junior Carl Zimmerman and reluctantly by Trojan head coach Tom Cottrell, but the entire supporting cast made Thursday special as sixth-seed Homer rolled to an 18-5 Section 3 Class C first-round lacrosse victory over 11th-seed Lowville.
Armideo netted six goals, Zimmerman added five goals and three assists, and Cottrell became the first coach to reach 100 wins in the program’s history. With past coaches Mark Ferrito and Rich Cecconi on the sidelines and Jim Luchsinger among the spectators, there were 292 of the program’s 347 wins since its inception in 1976 in attendance.
“It really is nice,” said Cottrell of the milestone win at his alma mater. “I really do appreciate everybody’s sentiment. I am lucky to be back here coaching at Homer. I am lucky to have the kids I’ve coached and the coaches I have had to work with over the years.
“This isn’t just my accomplishment,” he continued. “It is the program’s accomplishment and I just happen to be one of the guys with my name on the sheet. We really have had many outstanding student-athletes come through here and still do. I am just fortunate to coach them.”
Cottrell was presented a plaque after the game to commemorate the accomplishment.
On the field, the Trojans (12-7) started quickly by racing to a 4-0 lead in less than five minutes. Aaron Darr opened the scoring just 1:09 into the contest and Zimmerman tallied nine seconds later. John Sciera made it 3-0 with 8:37 left in the quarter before Armideo rifled his first goal home off a Zimmerman assist after another 46 seconds later.
Lowville got on the board with 6:24 left in the first quarter when senior John Olmstead scored his first of two Red Raider goals.
Zimmerman answered 13 seconds later for a 5-1 Homer advantage.
At this point, Lowville began to control the flow of the game with a deliberate ball-possession philosophy. The Red Raiders generated a few shots, but Trojan senior goalkeeper Paul Zimmerman and his defensive mates kept the ball out of the cage. Zimmerman finished with 13 saves in the game. The visitors won the race to the ball after the shots to maintain possession.
Zimmerman did complete the hat-trick with 8:25 left in the second quarter, but Lowville continued to slow down play. Mark Nortz scored a man-up goal off a Brandon Marshall assist with 6:34 until halftime and Taylor Ross found the cage with 38 seconds in the half to make the score 6-3.
“You have to stay focused on defense,” said Paul Zimmerman of that long second-quarter stretch when Lowville possessed the ball. “It can get tough doing that. It does get monotonous when a team just keeps moving the ball like that in circles, but it is my job to be ready to stop the shot when it finally comes.
“We are a more battle-tested team this season,” he added. “It was a much tougher league and I really think that will help us as we move on in sectionals.”
Both coaches knew the opening minutes of the third quarter would be crucial.
“I told our guys that we would see Homer’s best five minutes of lacrosse at the start of the third quarter,” said Lowville coach Josh Coffman. “We certainly did and we had no answers. Homer has an extremely high-powered offense and we needed to win faceoffs. They have four guys who can beat you one-on-one. That is a tough match-up for us. My hats off to Homer. They will be a tough team to beat in sectionals.”
“Coach Coffman and I probably had the same halftime speech,” said Cottrell. “Those first five minutes of the third quarter were going to be the most crucial. We knew we had to answer the call and maybe even turn it up a notch. The kids responded and give them the credit for giving us some distance on the scoreboard.
“Uncharacteristically, we turned the ball over some in that second quarter,” Cottrell added. “We may have gotten a little complacent with the big early lead, but give Lowville some credit for playing hard and not giving up early.”
Homer came out on the attack and winning faceoffs. It took five shots before the ball finally went in, but Darr’s 55th goal of the season with 7:47 on the clock sparked a four-goal burst in 58 seconds. Bennett Quinlan, with Connor Ferrito assisted, was next just 20 seconds later. After another 20 seconds, Armideo beat goalkeeper Shane Roberts (14 saves) and another Armideo goal with Zimmerman assisting came with 6:49 left in the quarter.
Zimmerman used a Ferrito assist with 5:54 to go before two more Armideo goals 14 seconds apart made it 13-3 Trojans with 2:28 left in the quarter. Armideo capped the eight-goal run with 2:02 left in the quarter with his sixth goal of the game at 41st goal of the season. His six-point night moved the senior into ninth-place on the all-time scoring list with 149 points (92 goals-57 assists).
“We did start a little slow, but we were really clicking in the second half,” said Armideo. “Everyone is contributing this season. It starts in practice where guys are really pushing each other. That has helped our offense click and we really have more than one scorer on this team.”
“I really have been working on faceoffs this year,” Carl Zimmerman added. “I didn’t know I’d be taking faceoffs, but it worked out that way. I keep working on new moves and I just try to do my best each time. I try to be quicker than the other guy.”
Overall, Homer won 21-of-27 faceoff attempts and hustled to 52 groundballs, compared to 20 for Lowville.
Zimmerman netted his 60th goal and 87th point in 2009 with 11:03 left in the game as Homer upped the margin to 15-4. Zimmerman is fifth on the all-time list with 184 points (133g-51a), five points behind Jake Plunket (1998-2001).
“Scoring as been a little easier more me this season,” said Carl Zimmerman. “I like being able to share the ball on offense. It allows me to keep my head up and develop my skills having guys like Paul, Aaron, Connor and John around me. It also helps the team to have a more balanced attack. We have so many more options this season.”
Brett Stokoe, Jaydon Kiernan and freshman call-up Connor Johnston netted the final three Trojan goals. Other JV call-ups included sophomore Hunter Osborne and freshman Aaron Zimmerman, who also saw playing time, as did sophomore goalkeeper Nick Larue, who made one save and gave up one goal.
Homer will return to Class C action Saturday as the Trojans travel to Cazenovia for an 11 a.m. game. The third-seeded Lakers (13-6) defeated 14th-seed Bishop Ludden (7-12) 10-7.