Friday, April 26, 2013

Huskers Second Half Explosion Overwhelms Indians

By Zach Smart

Yorktown senior Nick Mariano absorbed body after body shot, shredding his way through a horde of Mahopac defenders. The sniper spotted up, cocked back and fired, banging home a loud 14-6 ball.

On Yorktown’s ensuing possession, Mariano emerged from the backside, seizing a vacated angle. Mariano pumped faked and knocked in high arching shot, busting out a celebratory salute as the green-clad section of the crowd erupted.

The cross-town rivalry game began with a knot-tight first half, as both teams traded jabs. It ended with Yorktown (9-1) hanging a 17-6 victory on the Indians.  

With the tensions ratcheted up and Mahopac saddled with an endless orgy of penalties, the kid they call “Nicky Lax” helped spearhead an onslaught. Hunting for his shot throughout the sun-baked afternoon at Mahopac High, Mariano fired in a game-high seven goals to lead the Huskers. Brian Prestreau, who triggered the third quarter explosion, bagged five goals.

Yorktown struggled with its catch-and-fire game in the first half, relying too heavily on isolation plays. At halftime, Yorktown’s core of seniors talked about smoothing over the tense and sloppy possessions. They emphasized patience.

Defensively, the Huskers implored their short sticks to shade out more.Yorktown got into Mahopac's shooters' hands, locking up their wrists a la Lakeland/Panas legend Andy Fazio.

Mahopac's Nick Oliver pelted Mahopac with a trio of long range rips in the first half, as the hungry Indians came out with unbridled passion.

Yorktown roared out of the second half on a rapid-fire 5-0 tear, popping six of the seven third quarter goals to bust the game open.

Knotted up at 4-4 at the half, Yorktown outscored the Huskers by a whopping 13-2 margin in the second half.

 “We had to come out of the second half revved up,” said Mariano, the UMass-signee who fired in a game-high seven goals.

“We didn’t want to lose to a good Section I team. Our goal every year is to go undefeated in the Section. We didn’t want our goal to go down the drain today. We just drilled it into our players’ heads at halftime that we have to wake up and come out of the third quarter on fire.”

The third quarter has become feast time for the Huskers. A 4-0 power surge in a span of three minutes continued the trend. Dominance on the X and possession control sapped the energy from Mahopac, which seized a 3-2 lead off back-to-back long-range rips from Nick Oliver in the first half.

Brian Prestreau opened up the spurt with a bullet that gave Yorktown a 5-4 edge with 7:17 remaining in the third. Conor Vercruysse piped home the insurance shot, a minute and 13 seconds later.

 The quick-hit barrage didn’t stop there.

Presteau scored from short-yardage then darted through traffic, firing in an 18-yarder to provide Yorktown with an 8-4 cushion.

“If we move the ball and not rely on one-on-one dodging, so that I dodge, give it off to a teammate and we move the ball around, our shots will come,” Prestreau explained.

“In the first half we were real flat. We weren’t moving the ball, we couldn’t catch and throw.”

Mahopac erupted from the gates with a high-horsepower offense, seizing the moment.

Kyle Dillon opened up the scorebook, drilling a 15-yarder that gave the Indians a 1-0 edge with 9:29 to go in the first. Yorktown responded as Luke Palmadesso painted the pipe with 8:19 remaining. Ten seconds later, Mariano got loose and buried a shot on the fly to supply the Huskers with a 2-1 advantage.

With the penalties piling up Mahopac squandered its momentum. Beyond Mariano and Presteau, Vercruysse added three goals. Austin Graham handled matters between the pipes, collecting five saves.

“They just started moving off the ball more, we stopped communicating on defense and we took a lot of penalties,” said Nick Oliver, who collected a team-best three goals. Dillon added two goals for Mahopac. Brandon Crecco had 15 saves.

“We can’t afford to play man down the whole game, especially to a team of Yorktown’s caliber. We can’t afford that if we want to compete and win this game. I think penalties are what kind of screwed us over in the end.”

In Kyle Dillon (two goals) Oliver’s words resonated.

“I think we really beat ourselves today,” he said. “In the first half we played really well and moved the ball well. I think the penalties really got to us. If we had one more chance on them, I think we could control ourselves better and not get as many penalties I think we can have a closer game.”