CROSS RIVER - According to the calendar at least, the Yorktown boys lacrosse team started the season on March 31 with a win at Shenendehowa.
But to see the Cornhuskers these days - the spring in their steps, the swagger they now have - you would think the season had just started.
And in a way, it has.
After enduring a frustrating regular season, the 'Huskers have looked like a new team since the playoffs began. Their latest win - 18-8 over Section 9 champion Pine Bush - came last night in the Class A state regional semifinals at John Jay High School.
And it earned resurgent Yorktown an appearance in the state quarterfinals against Section 2's Niskayuna on Tuesday at 8 p.m. at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy.
"We definitely had a lot of trouble during the regular season, but then we took a step back, looked at how everything was going and really stepped up our play since then," said Amherst-bound senior attackman Nick Newman, who had four goals.
Yorktown (11-9) is a game away from the state final four. But to get there, the 'Huskers will have to beat a Niskayuna team that eliminated them 11-6 in the same round in 2005. No matter what happens, the 'Huskers are enjoying a postseason ride that seemed unlikely just a couple of weeks ago.
"We definitely got backed up against a corner," said junior midfielder Rocky Bonitatibus, who had three goals and an assist. "We basically had to win just to stay alive."
Yorktown had lost eight of 10 and was on a three-game skid entering the playoffs. But since a 20-7 victory over Mamaroneck in the opening round of sectionals, the team has been thriving.
After falling behind 1-0 against Pine Bush, the 'Huskers reeled off 11 straight goals to turn the game into a rout. Yorktown led 12-2 at the half.
John Ranagan, Liam McCarthy and Dan Greene each had two goals. John Froats had three assists, and Kevin Interlicchio and Colin Houlihan each had a goal and two assists.
"They have definitely played with a different attitude once the playoffs began," Yorktown coach Dave Marr said. "We tried to tell them that they weren't so bad; it just took them awhile to believe it."
Pine Bush (17-2) entered the game with its only loss coming against Section 9 Class C champion O'Neill. But it hadn't faced a team comparable to Yorktown.
And in the second half, the Bushmen's frustration showed in the form of some late hits and at times chippy play. Asked whether his team had become frustrated, Pine Bush coach Mark Brennan said, "Absolutely."
"You have a bunch of teenagers who have had nothing but success until this game - of course that happened," Brennan said.
But Brennan said he knew beforehand that his team faced a challenge.
"I expected exactly what they had," he said. "They know the game inside and out. We have good athletes, but they're not lacrosse players yet."