Courtesy of the Journal News
YORKTOWN - The anything-can-happen optimism faded in a matter of minutes.
North Rockland got a taste of how the other half lives yesterday afternoon, losing 17-4 to an experienced Yorktown boys lacrosse team with tunnel vision. The desire to erase a difficult ending to last season was evident from the opening faceoff. Kevin Interlicchio and Tom Casey had the defense on its heels from the start.
It was just a little overwhelming for the Red Raiders, who are still doing a lot of teaching. They are working to replace seven regulars from a team that ranked as the best in Rockland County each of the previous two seasons.
"There weren't any nerves," said Casey, who came up with three goals and three assists in the 'Huskers' season opener. "We were just ready to get on the field after what happened last year. It's good to come out fired up and all ready to play."
A troubling loss to Syosset in the state semis now serves as inspiration.
It took only a minute for Interlicchio to create a little space and put the 'Huskers in front 1-0 with the first of his six goals. Joey Porcelli quickly added to the lead, and Interlicchio made it 3-0 when he got a step and casually flipped in an underhanded shot.
The sequence played out in about three minutes.
"We came in hoping to stay with them a little while," North Rockland coach Greg Grasso said. "They've got six or seven players heading for Division I programs, and we're looking to fill in seven players. What can you do but wish them luck?"
Yorktown's defense was also a step ahead.
Shane Warner and Nick Chalsen were unable to break through a sizeable perimeter in the early going, and it took more than seven minutes before the Red Raiders got off a shot.
"That's the breaking point, the first couple of minutes of the game," 'Huskers defender John Fennessy said. "We want to be known as the defense that goes out and plays 100 mph in every game no matter who the other team is."
It could have been worse for North Rockland (1-1), but goalie Alex Nestle turned away two chances in the opening minutes.
"The bad start hurt," Chalsen said. "We didn't give up. They just had more physical ability than we did, and we got shook up by those quick goals."
Eric McLee scored on an overhand rip to make it 4-0. Casey and Interlicchio tacked on two more before the first quarter ended as the 'Huskers seemed to gain more confidence with each possession. And there was more of the same efficiency in the second quarter.
Yorktown was a man down when the Red Raiders broke through. Warner found Chalsen, who beat goalie Michael Bonitatibus on the bounce to make it 9-1.
"I didn't know what to expect from them," Interlicchio said. "I knew what to expect from us. As the week goes on we're going to play better teams. It's going to be fun to measure ourselves against them, but you never really know where you are until the playoffs."
Most of the 'Huskers' starters watched the second half from the sideline.
The legs got a little rest for tomorrow's showdown at Rye, a team that has a reputation for being very defensive. Yorktown hosts St. Anthony's, the No. 8 team in the country, on Saturday.
"We know some of those guys at Rye," Fennessy said. "We became friends playing Empires together last summer, but when everybody gets on the field Thursday, it's a whole different story."
Reach Mike Dougherty at email@example.com