The boys varsity lacrosse team's season came to an end last week with a heroic effort that came up short. The Vikings started their season off with a sensational upset win over Chaminade and ended with a quarterfinal loss to Garden City. In between there were ups and downs but the final game, though heartbreaking in its result, was absolutely glorious in its effort.
Garden City entered the game with a 10-0 conference record and their last few games against Port were not even close. And so if the Trojans weren't expecting much and maybe even the Port fans weren't expecting much the Vikings themselves were not ready to just walk away.
The first quarter saw end-to-end action as Port matched Garden City both in terms of possession and generating an attack. As the scoreless first quarter drew to a close the Trojans managed to put one in with 30 seconds left but Port came off the field upbeat and pumped.
The second quarter was much of the same - end to end action and both defensive units clamping down, not allowing any quality offense to generate. Bobby Ogrudek, Scott Schnipper, Vince Zorskas and Tommy Maher turned in a stellar performance, riding the Trojan attack, hounding them and stripping them of the ball. Goalie Scott Udell was superb, stopping whatever shot Garden City could manage.
But Garden City did not get its 10-0 record by chance. They are a good, strong, fast team and ultimately managed to sneak another goal in and a few minutes later scored on a man-up situation. Port entered the half trailing 3-0, a remarkable accomplishment considering the opponent.
Port came out smoking in the third quarter but once again Garden City's defenders refused to yield. Finally, with three minutes left in the quarter, Ogrudek picked up a ball at midfield and fed Ray Ross who worked it around and rocketed it in to put Port on the board. Ross' goal served as a shot in the arm and Port continued to press and push. The third period ended with Port trailing 3-1 and possibly facing the last 12 minutes of their season.
The Vikings came out and simply gave it their best-ever effort. They'd get the ball, push it up, work it around, get double and triple teamed finally find an opportunity and shoot - only to have the Trojan goalie make a save and clear it up. Port was exhausted and just when it seemed they'd never get the ball back, Ogrudek or Zorskas or Schnipper would strip a Trojan or Ross or Maher would steal a pass or Sean Kehlenbeck would grab a long clearing pass and set it up all over again. This scenario repeated itself again and again throughout the fourth.
But the Vikings were exhausted. Garden City scored but Port kept fighting. Garden City scored again but Port fought harder. Garden City scored a third time but Port would just not quit. Finally, with time running out, Pat Mulqueen scored but it was not enough as Garden City walked off with 6-2 victory.
By game's end, the Trojan goalie made 20 saves. That doesn't include the seven pipes that Port hit. For his part, Scott Udell weighed in with a season high of 12 saves - obviously this was a defense match. In addition to limiting the Trojans to their lowest-scoring win of the year, the Viking defense shut down Garden city's offensive machine, limiting their two scoring aces to one goal each and completely shutting down their third high scorer.
And so Port's season came to a close. Despite the loss the team has a lot for which to be proud. At least five seniors are going on to play college lacrosse - an impressive number. The '02 Crew Seniors are: Udell, solid goaltending and thrived on pressure, Mike Cosolito, fantastic face-off man and a bull on the field; Doug Lutin, led the team in goals and fearless near the crease; Sean Kehlenbeck, hard-hitting and always leading the big breakout up field, Scott Schnipper, tough, tenacious, held his own against the county's top scorers; Bobby Ogrudek; could strip a guy and run it up field before the guy knew he lost the ball - deadly; John Oliva - Johnny O - spirit, determination, and the fans' favorite player; Pat Mulqueen, Mr. Set-Up, led the team in assists and overall points; Chris "Bonecrusher" Koh, the Terminator.
Next season, Head Coach Ken Case and Assistant Coach Mike Gallagher will have a strong core to lead the team. Anchoring the defense will be goalie Mike Ferrari, who had an excellent rookie season and defensemen Vince Zorskas, who had his share of steals this year and Tommy Maher who also played a solid longstick middie. Joining them are Dave Katz, Dan Goetz, Dan DiCamillo, Greg Safran, Rob Ziegelbaum and Dan Stein. Middies Ray Ross and Danny Maher had great seasons running the ball and scoring. Joining them are Jeremy Francis, Peyton Mait, Greg Mallon and John Latzman who all played well and scored when given the opportunity. On attack they will have Sean Lowes who did his share of scoring this year and he will be joined by Shane Hafer and Rob Gannon, who played well under pressure and demonstrated they can drop a few in, along with Tom Linthicum and Andrew Davis.
A lot to reflect on; a lot to look forward to. Thanks, Vikings for ending the season on a strong note.