Sunday, April 7, 2013

Inside Look: Lakeland/Panas


By Zach Smart

Lakeland/Panas was once the unheralded, unsung second class citizen behind mighty Yorktown. The Rebels altered the perception of Section I’s elite in the scintillating summer of 2010, as the balanced Rebels sniped, dodged, snaked, and executed a tight riding game en route to the Section I championship.

Then-senior Will Fallo’s Shot Heard Around The Section, a memorable game-winning point-blank pop in transition was the dagger which finally lifted the Rebels out of the cage. This storybook shot helped snap a three-year drought. Having finally exorcised the Yorktown ghost, the Rebels navigated deep into the state tournament.

That Rebels team, possessing a handful of Division-I talent on both sides of the ball, helped raise the bar for the program. Ever since the Shot Heard Around The Section, Lakeland/Panas has been held to a higher Section I standard.

Now, let’s get back to the future.

This year’s Rebel team is a callow group containing just one senior. The Rebels have endured some early growing pains that head coach Jim Lindsay would hope is behind them.

Issues with face-offs and difficulty scooping up ground balls plagued Lakeland/Panas during a string of losses. The problems were so glaring they nearly fell off the page during an 8-4 loss to Rye on April 5.

The Rebels suffered an emotional loss at the start of the season, when an Arlington team dripping with promise pulled off the upset.

Arlington staved off a late push, collecting a signature victory and monumental moment for the program. Thirsting for state visibility this year, (especially with a crop of Division-I talent that includes Albany-bound keeper JD Colarusso and Albany-commit Dan Hanson) Arlington announced their presence with a titanic 8-7 win over the Rebels.

Defensively, the Rebels have been sound.

 Orchestrating cerebral scoring drives, whizzing passes, locating the open man, and fueling the transition game hasn’t been as simple.

The Rebels have discovered a reliable trigger man in Siena-bound junior Brian Prunty.

Prunty boasts a good lacrosse bloodline. His older brother Conor was a two-time All-American for the Rebels and has emerged as key midfielder at Siena. The prospect of playing alongside his brother helped Brian Prunty select Siena over several Division-I programs, St. Johns, Fairfield, and Loyola, to name a few.

Brian Prunty patterns his game around former Lakeland standout attack Jack “JD” Doherty. Conor Prunty was a sophomore during Doherty’s senior year at LP. Brian was a fixture in the stands, eyeing his brother and Doherty with a hawk-like gaze throughout those games.

Now the leadership torch has been passed to the younger Prunty, who is adept with both hands.

 He uses his 6-foot-3, 205-pound frame to his advantage, steers double teams, and eludes defenders via superior stick handles.

LP got their mettle tested against premiere out-of-area foes such as Penn Yan and Loyola-Blakefield, albeit the Rebels’ youth and difficulty with face-offs now has them mired in a quick a 0-4 freefall. Against Rye, the Garnets’ Chris Santangelo was dominant on the X.

Lakeland/Panas is backboned by a veteran goalie in junior Mike Zingaro, who has started since his freshman season.

Just how well LP’s young and unproven role players step and how the Rebels recover from this uncharacteristic start will determine their fate in  an evenly matched Class A.