The Boys Varsity Lacrosse team's season ended with a quarterfinal loss to Hicksville. But for those who witnessed the game at Hofstra, the valiant effort could be called anything but "a loss."
Hicksville had routed the Vikings earlier in the season but Port entered the playoff game with a quiet confidence. If they showed up with their A game and caught a few breaks a win was surely possible.
Those thoughts seemed pretty distant as Port quickly fell behind 5-0 in the first quarter. But if the fans were ready to give up, the Vikings certainly weren't. After killing a penalty toward the end of the quarter Dan Latzman scored to put Port on the scoreboard.
The Vikings came out flying in the second as Latzman stole a ball at midfield, ran it and scored. Gus Bechtold scored after the face-off and Rob Lutin converted a pass from Jeff Frocarro to bring Port within one. But "coming within one" would be a repeat pattern throughout the game. Hicksville scored two before the period ended to make it a 7-4 game at the half.
Port came out smoking in the third as Latzman picked up a loose ball and threw a pass to Mike Winter who scored. It was déjà vu all over again a few minutes later as Winter scored off a Latzman pass to pull within one...but Hicksville scored. Jeremy Goldman scored off of a pass from Alex Lee and the third period ended with Port trailing by one 9-8.
One quarter left and the 5-0 start seemed like a lifetime ago. Port won the face-off and Latzman scored to tie the game for the first time. Three minutes later goalie Zach Levin threw up a Hail Mary clearing pass to midfield, which Latzman caught, ran in and fed Lutin who nailed it to give Port its first lead of the game 10-9. But Hicksville scored to tie it and scored gain to take the lead with less than five minutes to play.
Other teams might have quit at that point but Port refused to give up and with 3:33 left, Frocarro took a pass for Lee and tied it up at 11-11. The euphoria was short lived, though, as Hicksville scored and held on for a 12-11 victory.
The final score hurt but the Vikings showed a lot of character, class and tenacity, battling back from a 5-0 hole to make it a "fight to the finish game." As a matter of fact, the entire season had enough bright spots to make any fan happy:
* The season started with a five game winning streak - the Vikings best start in years.
* A regular season record of 11-4 - their best in years.
* Opening round playoff win over Plainview - the Vikings first postseason win since 2002.
And in between some impressive games, come from behind wins, gingival achievements and solid team play.
The Vikings will lose some key seniors, especially on the defense side, as Levin and defensemen Tommy Maher, Greg Safran and Matt Ferraro graduate. Ready to take their place are goalie James Pyo and defensemen Jonah Lovens, Tom McDonough and Bryant Rich, who have all shown they are capable of playing steady defense. The team also loses feeder Latzman and face-off ace Greg Mallon.
The offensive unit - Winter, Lutin, Frocarro, Goldman and Francisco Silva - remains intact and over the course of the season demonstrated their ability to score; middies Lee Bechtold and Billy Brown showed they can run, hit and set up the attack.
All of this spells the promise of better things to come in '06. It is hoped that the Vikings look past the final score of the last contest and instead focus in on the intensity and pride with which they played that game. Such qualities never make their way into a box score but they have a much greater significance for next year, and the many years after that.