By Zach Smart
Hampered by a lackluster first half, top-seeded Yorktown was in dire need of a wakeup call.
The Huskers were crumbling under the weight of a junk zone defense. Somers kept the heat on, slicing away at a thin deficit.
Chris Marasco’s goal with 4:30 remaining in the third quarter pulled the Tuskers within 6-5, eliciting a steady “OVERRATED!” chant from a red-clad fan base at Charlie Murphy field.
The chorus didn’t fall on deaf ears.
“We heard it,” Yorktown senior Nick Mariano said. “We heard it loud and clear.”
The Huskers decided to answer with their sticks.
Yorktown snapped out of the funk, enforcing a wild third quarter spurt en route to a 12-7 Section I/Class B semifinal victory.
In a game defined by runs, Yorktown’s 30-second sprint ultimately pulled the Huskers past Somers.
Brian Prestreau darted out in transition, rolled off a pick from Mariano and delivered a 10-yard rip with 4:30 remaining in the third.
All of 16 seconds later, Prestreau emerged from an identical angle, blasting a dart past keeper Nik Genuando.
Prestreau’s two goals in half a minute provided an 8-5 edge and a psychological lift for the Huskers (16-2).
And so Yorktown held off hard-hitting Somers, which gave Yorktown fits and black-and-blue marks in the first half.
Top-seeded Yorktown will face John Jay-Cross River, a 6-5 OT winner over Rye, in the Section I championship at White Plains High School on Thursday.
The third quarter has been Yorktown’s period of prosperity this season.
The pattern of orchestrating a quick-jab, momentum-swinging surge during those vital 12 minutes continued on Tuesday.
Sparked by Danny Manning and Luke Palmadesso’s grit on faceoffs, the rapid-fire outburst swallowed the potential of a monumental Somers upset. It additionally supplied the Huskers with an intense rush of adrenaline.
“We knew (Somers) was going to come out firing in that third quarter,” Mariano said.
“We just made it a point to come out a little more fired up and put the ball in the back of the net. They were getting close and it was the right time and it was great for us.”
Surges to the cage kept Somers (10-9) on Yorktown’s back, as a supreme knife fight unfolded.
Tim Cousin, Dave Rubenstein, and Tyler DeVito each popped two goals to pace the Tuskers.
All season, Lew Javaney’s squad has been marred by inconsistency.
On Tuesday, the Tuskers let their passion for the game spill out with an aggressive zone.
They kept a lid on go-to threats Prestreau and Connor Vecruysse (who blitzed Brewster for seven goals in the quarterfinal) in the first half.
Prestreau and Mariano had seen enough.
“We just treat (the third quarter) as a new game,” said Stony Brook-bound Prestreau, who bagged three goals and an assist.
“It helps that were never worn out at that point.”
With 3:35 remaining in the third, Mariano laced a straightaway goal from 20 yards out. The rip capped a 3-0 burst in a 41-second span.
Rubenstein answered a minute later, carving his way to the cage and popping.
Back-to-back goals from Mariano and shifty Ryan Baker kept Yorktown’s foot on Somers’ throat, upping the lead to 11-6.
Vercruysse snaked behind the cage and poured in a nifty reverse layup, supplying Yorktown with an insurmountable 12-7 bulge with 4:02 remaining.
Mariano led the way with a game-high five goals, stretching out Somers’ zone.
Rutgers-bound junior Connor Vercruysse deposited two goals. Baker and Nick Delbene each chimed in with one.
Newly-appointed starter Zack Reilly handled matters between the pipes, registering six saves.
“Brian’s been playing well all year and the third quarter is a big time to step up,” said Huskers coach Dave Marr.
“This game is always tough. We never have a cake walk here and Somers is a tough team. They are very well coached. They gave us some fits, we didn’t shoot the ball well and their goalie (Genualdo) played well. It was a good test for the kids. They persevered.”
Mariano’s personal 3-0 run gave Yorktown an early cushion.
The UMass-bound sniped an 18-yarder off a dish from Nicky Bonitatibus. He followed with a deep straightaway rip. Then, Mariano got loose in transition for a pull-up.
Delbene fired in the 4-0 ball, but Somers answered as Rubenstein nailed a turnaround with 5:04 remaining. Tyler DeVito rocketed home a mid-range rip that made it 4-2 with 2:25 to go in the second.
Yorktown will face formidable foe John Jay (12-6) in a rematch of last year’s Section I final. Yorktown defeated the Indians, 9-8, in sudden death overtime in 2012.
“We always want to play them in the finals,” said Mariano.
“Coach (Tim) Schurr is a great, great coach. He always has a good game plan for them. We’re going to hope for the best and we’ll be ready.”
Perhaps John Jay fans will opt not to go with an "overrated" chant.