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June 7, 2012

 

Trojans can’t dig out of this hole

Penn Yan thwarts Homer rally to reach state finals

LacrosseBob Ellis/staff photographer
Homer Central’s Connor Johnston dives as he gets off a pass upfield while being hounded by Penn Yan defenders (l-r) Kevin Kerrick (12), Mike Thiesmeyer, and Colby Treat during Wednesday’s state semifinal at Cicero-North Syracuse.

By TOM VARTANIAN
Staff Writer

CICERO — The entire playoff season has been different from the regular lacrosse season for Homer Central.
After spending most of the first 19 games grabbing big early leads, the Trojans have had to overcome some early deficits — like in the Section 3 Class C title game where they trailed Cazenovia 3-0 and the state regional game last Saturday where they fell behind 2-0 to Salmon River.
That troubling trend proved fatal in Wednesday’s New York State Class C semifinal clash against Penn Yan at Cicero-North Syracuse High School’s Michael Bragman Stadium. The Section 5 champions bolted to a 7-1 lead early in the second quarter and held off a valiant rally by Homer to secure a 10-8 triumph and head to the state championship game.
The state’s top-ranked Mustangs improve to 20-2 while second-ranked Homer concludes its season at 18-4. Third-ranked Shoreham-Wading River (18-3) from Section 11 pounded fourth-ranked Bronxville (19-2) from Section 1 in the other Class C semifinal 11-2 and will face Penn Yan in the state final at Middletown High School Saturday at 11 a.m.
One reason the Mustangs grabbed a 6-1 lead in the first quarter was the ability to reach rebounds in front of the cage and convert them into second chance scoring opportunities. Bradley Voigt, Dylan Yonts and Rion Davison each did that.
It was Jordan Owen who gave Penn Yan a 1-0 lead just 1:19 into the contest with a bullet into the upper right corner of the cage. Yonts followed with a strong shot off Voigt’s assist just over a minute later. Voigt made it 3-0 with a rebound put-back with 5:20 left in the opening quarter.
Junior attackman Brandon Maxson gave Homer a spark with 4:11 left in the quarter with a great flick shot from Beau Riley’s pass.
Penn Yan closed the quarter with three goals in the final 3:15. Brett McMichael started the run with an assist from Voigt. before Yonts and Davison converted their rebound chances for the 6-1 advantage.
The Mustangs were controlling the face-offs (5-3) and were getting more shots (14-8). They really possessed the ball much of the quarter.
“We dug ourselves quite a hole in the first quarter,” Homer senior defender Anthony Contento said. “We gave it a real hard effort in the last three quarters, but it didn’t turn out to be enough.
“There are just those little breaks every game that go one way or the other,” he continued. “It just seemed like everything was going their way in the beginning. It’s unfortunate, but it happens.”
“WE DID DIG A hole, but we know we had the ability to come back,” senior midfielder Aaron Zimmerman stated. “We did make some mistakes in the final three quarters that didn’t allow us to come all the way back, but that early hole did do us in.”
“We didn’t help ourselves much in the first half,” Trojan head coach Tom Cottrell said. “They blitzed us pretty good, took some nice shots. When Jonathan (Cottrell) was able to make the stops, the ball came right back out in front and they were beating us back to the ball. I think him had three saves and three rebounds that picked up and thrown right back into the net. Take those three off the board and it’s a different ball game or, at least, we wouldn’t have had as big a hole to dig out of.”
The second quarter was tame compared to the first 12 minutes. Penn Yan did increase the differential to 7-1 on an unassisted goal by Owen 42 seconds into the quarter.
Middie Casey Cleary answered for Homer two minutes later as he unassisted tally was his 24th of the season. that goal came with 9:14 left in the first half. Shots were limited by both defenses and played was much more even.
After the halftime talks were over, Homer came out flying in the third quarter. Conner Johnston won three-of-five face-offs in the quarter. Contento and the rest of the Trojans limited Penn Yan to just three shots while Homer found the net four times in nine shots.
Junior attackman Sean Ferrito got the Homer rally started with 10:54 showing on the clock. Ferrito’s 39th goal of the season was assisted by Maxson. With 9:18 to go in the quarter, Maxson found Riley open the junior claimed his 46th goal of the season. Sophomore midfielder Chris Brown got the Trojans closer as he converted Cleary’s pass with 3:07 to play in the quarter. Zimmerman’s 33rd goal this season got Homer to within 7-6 with 1:41 left in the third quarter. The Trojans were right there with 12 minutes remaining.
“WE WERE ABLE to make some adjustments because our coaches remained calm and did a great job getting us focused on the things we needed to do,” Zimmerman said. “All the guys were upbeat. We believed we could come back. We nearly got there. We knocked on the door, but didn’t go in.”
“The guys and their effort was big. They decided that they didn’t come here to lose and refocused at halftime,” Cottrell said. “They played like we had intended to from the start of the game. The 4-0 third quarter put us right back in the game.
“Aaron’s shot off the inside of the top pipe I thought was in,” he continued. “Their goalie (Brandon Maciejewski) made a couple of nice saves and they came back back and lengthened the lead a little bit again.”
Ryan Maciejewski gave Penn Yan a little breathing room with an unassisted goal with 10:13 to play. Brandon Maciejewski made a nice save on a Zimmerman shot and the Mustangs looked to clear the ball. Ferrito picked the pass off near midfield and sprinted towards the goal, ripping a shot into the cage with 6:30 to play and pulling Homer to within 8-7.
Penn Yan began to win face-offs and hold the ball down the stretch. Yonts completed his hat trick with 3:21 to play and Voigt collected his second goal just over one minute later for a 10-7 cushion.
The Mustangs kept possession of the ball, but Homer got one last goal as Johnston scored his 42nd goal off a Zimmerman pass on the man-up with 1:47 remaining.
Jonathan Cottrell finished the game with 14 saves as did Brandon Maciejewski. Both will be back next season.
“It is funny that they had the same number of saves,” Coach Cottrell said. “I thought this game would come down to the goalkeepers. I know how Jon has played for us and they have a fantastic young sophomore goaltender. Jon did get blitzed early, but he was fantastic in quarters two through four. Their kid was solid all the way through. He made some critical saves when we had the chance to tie the game.”
SEVEN SENIORS WRAPPED up solid careers at Homer.
Captains Contento, Johnston and Zimmerman played three seasons and went from section quarterfinal loss to section semifinal loss to state final four in three years with records of 44-15. Drew Christopher, Brandon Wood, Austin Recor and Chris Bray are two-year players with 33-8 marks.
“We really have nothing to be ashamed of this year,” Contento said. “We gave it everything we had. Every guy on this team did that. We tried to go as far as we could. We didn’t reach our final goal, but it was a great season.”
“We have played a lot of good lacrosse,” Zimmerman added. “We had a lot of good games and had a really nice run. Really though, all we can think about right now is what just happened and it’s really hard to think about everything overall.”
“I have seven seniors,” Coach Cottrell said. “The three captains are the guys who drove us with great leadership. The other four have implemented whatever the captains had going on. Our kids picked the captains and they were chosen because they were respected and knew they would lead us as far as they could. They have done that and I couldn’t be prouder of the three captains and the entire senior class. They have had a fantastic run.”

 

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