Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Huskers OutDuel Chaminade In Battle Of National Powers
First, Connor Vercruysse spotted up and ripped a bullet with 6:01 left in the third quarter, supplying Yorktown with a 3-2 edge.
Then, countering a game-tying goal from Yale-bound junior Jack Tigh, Vercruysse popped a one-hopper off Kris Alvarado’s dish.
With 4:23 remaining in the fourth, the 6-foot-3 Rutgers-bound senior rifled in an insurance ball.
It was the final jab of Yorktown’s loud 5-3 victory over Chaminade at sun-soaked Mineola, N.Y. on Saturday afternoon.
Vercruysse, accounting for 80 percent of the Huskers’ offensive output with a game-best four goals, sapped blood from the clock during the final minute.
A gang of swarming sticks enveloped the hot-handed senior, but the carnage had been inflicted.
The Huskers had been hell-bent on a signature victory, validating the national prominence circling the 12-month program.
Following a 10-4 loss to McDonogh (Md.), Yorktown seized the opportunity to re-stake its claim as the hunted.
In a highly-pressurized environment, against one of the nation’s elite, Vercruysse was the overwhelming factor.
“The first two games we had against top-level teams (Ward-Melville and McDonogh), we don’t think we showed the country what we could do,” Vercruysse explained.
“We were kind of waiting to play our best game of lacrosse and I think we did that today.”
Their best game of the season required stellar play on the X.
Villanova-bound senior Luke Palmadesso gave an efficient account of himself, capturing 11-of-11 faceoffs.
The Huskers were stabilized by senior netminder Austin Graham (eight saves), who stoned several long-range rips during heightened moments of crunch time.
“Austin played well and our whole defense was great,” said Vercruysse.
“We were two-man down, that was a crazy possession for us. We stop them there, it’s a lot of momentum. We always say, ‘all the little things.’ We really did all those things today.”
On-the-ball pressure and relentlessness, enforced by seniors Austin Fusco and Tomas Rodriguez, negated a high-powered offense that ripped off eight straight to start the season. It was an old-school lacrosse game out there. Low-scoring, augmented defensive pressure, and every possession the ball was valued as if a diamond was encrusted inside of it. Everything had to be earned.
Cognizant of the Huskers’ history book, Graham said the team embraces the role of spoiler.
“Big teams like this, a program of Chaminade’s caliber, we like being that first loss,” the senior netminder explained.
“A few year’s back, we were (CT power) Darien’s first loss. Last year, we were Chaminade’s first loss again. We like beating undefeated teams. Coming into games like this is a big deal, but being Yorktown we have games like this all the time. We have to get used to it and stay calm. Play the whole game like its the last possession.”
The Yorktown youth has a unique fascination with the word “fact.”
There’s no question Dave Marr and the Huskers did an accurate fact check prior to the marquee and memorable matchup.
The Huskers knew they had to negate Sean Cerrone, the Villanova-bound grenade launcher who scored the game-winner in an 8-7 win over fellow CHSAA power St. Anthony’s.
With a concentrated effort on blanketing Cerrone, the Huskers were able to sustain the style of play they’ve enforced all season.
“We don’t like to change our game for other people, we like to have them change for us and we like to dictate,” Graham explained.
“We have a great LSM in Tomas Rodriguez, who sticks the opponent’s top middies. He just did a great job on (Cerrone). We told (Rodriguez), ‘he’s going to go right but he can be a lefty too. Down the side, we’ve got to get our slides going if he’s beat. If not, we’ll just play our regular defense.”
With captains imploring the Huskers to hustle for groundballs and outwork their Long Island foe, which possesses a wealth of Division-I talent across all positions, work emanating from a thorough practice week paid dividends.
“We wanted to make a statement, we wanted to show the Section and the rest of the country that we can play with the best,” senior Eric Meyreles said.
“We were here to make a statement and show that we’re here to stay.”