June 4, 2012
Trojans make a little history
Advance to state semis for 1st time by handing Shamrocks 1st setback
CICERO — Homer Central is about to go where no previous lacrosse team in school history has gone before.
Behind a smothering second-half defensive effort and a career-day by junior attackman Beau Riley, the state’s eighth-ranked Trojans handed fifth-ranked Salmon River its first loss of the season and will move on to the New York State Class C semifinals for the first time in the program’s history after a 12-8 triumph on Saturday at Cicero-North Syracuse High School’s Michael Bragman Stadium.
Riley pumped in six goals and assisted three times as the Section 3 champions improve to 18-3 and will face Section 5 champion Penn Yan Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. back at C-NS. The sixth-ranked Mustangs (19-2) advanced with a 14-13 victory over Section 6 champion and second-ranked Silver Creek.
Fourth-ranked Shoreham-Wading River (18-3) from Section 11 will meet seventh-ranked Bronxville (19-1) in the other Class C semifinal at Hofstra University.
“Coach (Mark) Ferrito always puts us in good situation on offense,” Riley said. “It’s not hard for any of us to score and we execute the plays. We are a very balanced offense. On any given day someone can have a big day because most defenses can’t lock up all our players. It starts with the face-offs. If we have the ball, the other team can’t score.
“It’s nice we have gotten this far,” he added. “No Homer team has gotten this far before. Someone is going to step up each game. It doesn’t matter who it is as long as we keep winning.
“This is fantastic,” Trojan head coach Tom Cottrell said. “The kids really deserve this. It’s the first time we played somebody we didn’t know much about. We knew there will be a little bit of an adjustment early. It took a little longer than I would have liked, but we stayed tight. We began figuring it out on both ends of the field. The guys really played a fantastic second half.”
The game started slowly as each team score once in the first quarter. Ky Tarbell gave the Shamrocks (19-1) the lead with 3:02 left in the quarter, but Aaron Zimmerman tied the score one minute later on a bounce shot that caromed off the left post and crossbar before settling in the back of the net.
THE SECOND QUARTER was the offensive contest many expected, with three lead changes and three ties including the 6-6 count at the end of the half.
Salmon River’s Seth Oakes showed his strength with four goal, two when backing in under heavy defensive pressure and one on the rarely used hidden ball trick that allowed him to walk by two defenders and surprise Trojan goalkeeper Jonathan Cottrell (four saves). That goal tied the game at 4-4.
Oakes gave Salmon River a 3-1 lead but Zimmerman answered twice to complete his hat trick and knot the score at 3-3. Riley assisted on the tying man-up goal. Zimmerman’s two tallies came within 37 seconds of each other.
Riley gave Homer its first lead of the game at 4-3 just 12 seconds after Zimmerman’s tying goal as the Trojans completed a three-goal run in 39 seconds,
Tarbell collected his second goal as the Shamrocks took a short-lived 5-4 lead with 4:11 left in the half.
Riley answered just 11 seconds later to tie the game at 5-5. It was also the 100th point of the junior’s career. His third goal of the game gave Homer a 6-5 lead with 1:11 to go, but Oakes tied it again with 5.5 seconds left.
“We say that we need to stay off the rollercoaster,” Zimmerman said of matching Salmon River in first-half scoring, “This team has really taken that to heart. This team has been in a lot of back and forth games. We have a lot of grit and determination to win no matter what happens. That is what has gotten us through games like this all season. Hopefully we can keep doing what we’ve been doing.”
While Oakes was scoring for Salmon River, the Shamrock’s Section 10 All-American Dalston Day (59 goals-32 assists) was pointless in the first half and it would stay that way in the second half. The Trojans also held Salmon River off the scoreboard in the third quarter and used a five-goal run to lead 11-6 with 7:48 remaining in the match before Salmon River would even score again.
“AT HALFTIME, COACH (Cottrell) put a real good game plan together for us,” senior defender Drew Christopher said. “We were able to put a clamp on them. It also helped that Conner (Johnston) won a lot of face-offs so they didn’t touch the ball much in the second half. “We really don’t try to go for the strips,” he added. “We are just trying to play good defense by working with our feet first. If we move out feet, everything else just falls into place. We worked on taking away the transition goals and figured we could go from there.”
“Anthony Contento was on Day in the first half and limited his opportunities,” Coach Cottrell said. “We switched him to Oakes in the second half to give Salmon River a bit of a change and he shut him down in the second half. It was a very good defensive effort. They is a good offensive group, but we got the W. We’ll take it.”
Homer took the lead for good with 7:01 left in the third quarter as Johnston netted his first goal of the game with Riley assisting. The Trojan were exploiting a weakness in Shamrock goalkeeper Kobi Johnson (12 saves) by shooting low to his stick (right) side. Johnston switched things up five minutes later with a shot towards the far post on a man-up opportunity for an 8-6 lead.
As play moved into the fourth quarter, Homer kept winning face-offs and building its advantage.
“We knew they had guys who could finish so we needed to keep the ball out of their hands,” Johnston said. “I was just trying to do my best to do that.”
“C.J. was huge for us today,” Cottrell said. “To be successful at this level you need to win face-offs and you need to have ball possession. We did that and it allowed us to play more offense than defense, especially in the second half. That’s why things went in our favor.”
Riley scored twice and Sean Ferrito netted one goal as the Trojan lead grew to 11-6.
Kason Tarbell finally stopped the Trojan run with 7:01 to play with Ky Tarbell assisting. Kamm David scored 27 seconds later with Ky Tarbell again assisting and the Shamrocks had a little life by closing the margin to 11-7.
RILEY DASHED ANY further comeback hopes with 6:03 to play as his sixth goal of the game (45th of the season) halted the Salmon River momentum. The Trojans controlled the ball as Salmon River’s frustration turned into six minutes of penalties during the remainder of the game.
“It means a lot to us,” Christopher said of advancing to the final four of the first time in school history. “We are really looking forward to Wednesday’s game.”
“It’s great,” Riley added. “I really don’t know what else to say.”
“I’m really pumped for this,” Zimmerman said. “It’s not that we haven’t had the talent to do it in the past, I just think this group has really stayed together and used every asset that we have more than any other team has. It’s really exciting to be a part of that. I know I have the bragging rights among the Zimmermans now.”
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