Friday, April 18, 2014

Huskers Look To Right Ship Following Maryland Trip

The playoff-hardened 2014 Huskers didn't enter the season bedecked in championship attire.

Though Yorktown is the reigning Sectional champions, the team with a price on its head, the Huskers are collectively cognizant that they let a state tournament loss to Niskayuna slip away.

The feeling of numbness experienced following that loss, the overwhelming, irritable heat and decisive moments have morphed into motivation.

Motivation for a return trip to the promised land, that is. Nobody wants to relive the pain and agony that hovered over the team as the bus chugged out of SUNY Albany, their thoughts dispersed and their aspirations helplessly shattered.

And so the Huskers have prioritized crafty dodging from up top and deft passing over gunslinging. Last year, the Huskers' chock full of shooters ran roughshod over Section 1 competition, featuring a fleet of snipers who could rip from 25+yards out. Akin to pure shooting guards who launch 100 free throws, 200 3-pointers, and 150 baseline jumpers before exiting the gym, the Huskers' trigger men extended practice time with long shooting drills.

 Keeping their cadre of grenade launchers polished and engaged was a major point of emphasis.

This season, the focus has shifted to feeding the open man. With an influx of new scorers and several players acclimatizing to enhanced roles, the offense has featured more scorers. Everyone has a chance to eat off the plate, with spacing and ball-protection as the essential ingredients. The system is predicated on precise passing, cutting, the keeping the cleats moving and sidestepping defenders.

"The offense is pretty much evenly-distributed, which is fine by us," explained Villanova-bound senior captain Luke Palmadesso, whose knock kick-started a 6-0 spurt during Yorktown's 13-12 victory over Shenendehowa on Saturday.

"We don't care who it is that scores or pulls the shot, we just want to find the right shot."

Subscribing to this selfness style and empowering an all-inclusive effort,  Yorktown has outscored Section 1 foes by an 87-32 margin.

The Huskers made quick work of Arlington, coasting to a 22-2 drubbing. Reserves sustained the insurmountable lead after halftime.

 Then they outdueled a familiar, formidable foe in Somers, 14-6. They dismantled Hen Hud by an identical score. The tightest game occurred against Bronxville, in which they gutted out a 13-10 grinder.

 Buoyed by the senior savvy of Connor Vercruysse (2 goals, 3 assists) and Nicky Bonitatibus (1 Goal, 2 assists) and continued production from junior Ryan Baker (2 Goals), the Huskers avenged a 2013 loss to Shen.

Defensively, principles of the past have been intact.

"We aim to pressure the ball all over the field," explained All-American and Syracuse-bound senior Austin Fusco, who has assumed some ownership of the defense.

"We want to push the transition attack, win ground balls, win every hustle battle and play smart."

Maryland Mayhem

The Huskers weren't overmatched, nor did they fall victim to a Division-I launching pad more potent than their own in a 10-4 loss to Maryland power McDonough. They simply didn't finish enough. The Huskers' nose for the net, the fortifying factor of their dodge-centric catch-and-rip offense, was lacking.
 The opportunities were there, albeit McDonough goalkeeper Jacob Stover prevented them from cashing in.  Stover, a junior Loyola-commit, stoned shots at point-blank. He stopped bullets and sealed the net shut en route to 18 saves.
That high-level composure between-the-pipes derailed the Huskers, which entered the game averaging 13.2 goals per game. Prior to this, Yorktown hadn't dipped under seven goals this season. In both losses, however, the high-octane offense was neutralized.
The Huskers spent the Maryland trip exploring historic landmarks such as the U.S. Naval Air Station. They'll look to steady the ship on April 23, renewing hostilities with border town rival Mahopac.

The road to sustained national prominence only gets tougher, as Yorktown is slated for grit-testing barometers against Chaminade and Ridgefield on the road.
 Ridgefield, under the guidance of iconic Husker and former professional Roy Colsey, was a memorable signature win during last season's 17-3 campaign. You can bet every last dollar in your bank account that Ridgefield, which employs a year-round focus, is eager to exact vengeance.
Dedvukaj Thriving
Heading into the season, Section 1 prognosticators knew of weapons possessed by the Huskers' junior class. Division-I commits such as Nick Delbene (Towson), Dan Delbene (Manhattan), and Baker (UMBC) have earned credibility.

Billy Strassmen, Tim Forbes, goalkeeper Liam Donnelly, as well as Ryan Cegialski, who was immense during the Ward-Melville game, have also ensured that the future is safe.
 The unheralded of this clique of lax bros was Mike Dedvukaj, who has found the trigger.

 Dedvukaj, whose received interest from schools such as UMASS-Lowell and Detroit-Mercy, has made good on opportunities to score off the ball and dodge. He drilled his first goal just 90 seconds into the season, lacing a shot off a feed from Kris Alvarado during the 13-4 pelting of Putnam Valley. His production rate has soured, with back-to-back four-goal games against Somers and Shen.
Mahopac Waiting In The Wings
One of the few local area teams to defeat Yorktown in the past few years, with an overtime victory in 2011, the Mahopac Indians will renew hostilities with the Huskers on April 23.

Mahopac and Yorktown have been heated rivals since the inception of their sports programs.
The Crop vs. The Maniacs has made for much entertainment value and must see TV. If one had to take an educated guess, the Indians and Huskers won't be hanging out in a post-game cookout. They won't be heaping effusive praise on each other, sharing stories, or busting out stomach-bursting jokes amongst each other. A "keep in touch" or "hit me up on facebook" in the post-game handshake is not happening.
This is not freshman orientation. Nobody will be wearing nametags and looking to make friends with the other side. That is the nature of this old-school, traditional high school rivalry.