YORKTOWN HEIGHTS - In order to fix a problem, the first step is to acknowledge it exists.
Yorktown's boys lacrosse team and its coach, Dave Marr, know they have the ability to play with - and even beat - some of the best teams in the nation. But they need to play more consistently from start to finish.
That was evident yesterday as the Cornhuskers fell 11-7 to nationally ranked St. Anthony's. After falling behind 5-1 in the first quarter, Yorktown outplayed the visitors from South Huntington the rest of the way.
In fact, had it not been for Ohio State-bound Friars goalie Ryan Keneally, things could have been very interesting down the stretch.
"We didn't play well in the first quarter, and I don't know why that is," Marr said. "There's no reason we can't play with these teams. The ability is there. It's not like we can't do it."
After Yorktown (5-2) pulled within 2-1 on a goal by junior attackman Brendan Kurpis 2:56 into the game, James Carroll scored the first of six straight St. Anthony's goals off the ensuing faceoff. Yorktown did not get its second goal of the game until early in the second half, when junior midfielder Rocky Bonitatibus scored to make it 7-2. Yorktown wound up outscoring St. Anthony's 6-5 in the second half.
"We were getting to more ground balls and playing a lot harder and a lot better overall," said Bonitatibus, who had three goals and two assists.
So why couldn't the 'Huskers do that for the entire game?
"I don't know, but we're going to have to," said Kurpis, who had three goals and an assist.
Especially with a four-game stretch upcoming that includes Hen Hud, Ward Melville, John Jay and Lakeland/Panas.
St. Anthony's (6-1) is ranked 22nd in the latest STX/Inside Lacrosse rankings but should move up quite a few spots, having picked up a 9-8 overtime win earlier in the week over rival Chaminade, ranked fourth. The Friars' loss was 9-7 to Delbarton (N.J.) Prep, ranked third in the nation.
"They were really hustling and fighting back in the second half," Keneally said. "It's a good thing we were able to finish the game strong."
They did, thanks in large part to Keneally, who made a flurry of spectacular stops from point-blank range in the fourth quarter. He finished with 16 saves.
"I feel like when I can do that, I can pick everyone else on the team up," Keneally said. "We knew coming in they were good because we played them last year."
St. Anthony's won that game 11-5 last season after the 'Huskers had pulled out an 8-6 win over the Friars a year earlier.