Forget spring training. Forget March Madness. The biggest sports story of the month happened right here at The Pit last week when the Boys Varsity Lacrosse team started off their season with a bang, beating Chaminade 11-10 in a tight, tense, action-filled contest.
Though not in the same conference, these two teams have a long-standing rivalry. Chaminade is a perennial powerhouse and was nationally ranked at the start of the season. They probably came into The Pit expecting a light tune up. Port, though, had other ideas.
The Vikings dominated from the opening face-off but were unable to put the ball in the net. Despite their hustle and excellent ball control, midway through the first quarter Port found themselves trailing 3-0 and needed something to turn things around quickly. And they got it.
As a Chaminade player went to field a ball in his own end he was leveled by Mike Cosolito. Pat Mulqueen scooped up the loose ball and scored to put Port on the board. On the next face-off Bobby Ogrudek grabbed the ball in his end, ran it right down into Chaminade-Town and fed Cosolito who rifled one to bring Port to a respectable 3-2 score to end the first quarter.
Chaminade scored twice early in the second and once again Port found themselves staring at a three-goal deficit. Other teams may have panicked - not this group. Port came back swinging. Mulqueen fed Doug Lutin who scored, Cosolito scored two more times and Mulqueen put another in to Stun Chaminade and take a 6-5 lead into the half.
If the score stunned Chaminade along with their fans and some Port fans as well, it certainly didn't surprise the Vikings themselves who played with poise and confidence all game. To prove their scoring barrage wasn't a fluke they opened the third quarter with more of the same. Lutin started behind the cage and beat his man to tuck it in. Minutes later Ogrudek stole another ball, ran it downfield through traffic and fed Lutin who dropped another in to give Port an 8-5 lead midway through the third. Chaminade came back with a goal but Danny Maher went through a logjam to once again give Port a three-goal lead.
Chaminade was not yet ready to hang it up. They regrouped, put two goals in and when the third period ended they had made it a one-goal game with Port sitting on a 9-8 lead.
The Flyers scored early in the quarter to tie the score and a few minutes later scored again to retake the lead. Once again Port was forced to reach deep down and find out if they had what it takes. The defense smothered any Chaminade scoring opportunities and quickly cleared the ball upfield to a patient offense that controlled the ball and looked for the right opportunity. They found it when Ray Ross muscled one in to tie the score at 10 with three minutes to go in the game.
Once again Port controlled the ball and worked it around in Chaminade's end, waiting for the perfect opportunity. With 2:20 left in the game Ross fed Mulqueen who stepped and fired to give Port an 11-10 win over a tough Chaminade team.
The '02 Vikings already seem to be an improved version of last year's squad. The seniors on the team have matured and are ready to take on leadership roles. In addition, a new crop of juniors, sophomores and freshmen have added speed at middie and strength at both ends of the field. The defense, anchored by Ogrudek, Scott Schnipper, Vince Zorskas, Sean Kehlenbeck and Tommy Maher, hounded the Chaminade attack all afternoon and played tough when it counted. In the net, senior goalie Scott Udell shared duties with junior Mike Ferrari and the attack showed it could control the ball and find the net.
Regardless, the Vikings this year have a tough road to hoe. Their division includes state champs Wantagh, always tough Garden City and former state champs Lynbrook, which was added to the division right before the season started. But if the Chaminade game was any indication, the '02 crew is ready for the challenge.