Yorktown’s John Ranagan rips a shot against L/P in the Murphy Cup.
No. 1 Yorktown (16-2) vs. No. 2 Lakeland/Panas (13-4)
Prior matchup: Yorktown 11, L/P 7 (click here to see video highlights from that game)
From a Yorktown standpoint:
* The Huskers — a senior-laden group — won’t be denied against an archrival in a big spot. There’s simply too much veteran leadership on this squad to falter at this point.
* Yorktown middie John Ranagan, who torched L/P for five goals and an assist in the Murphy Cup, presents a near-impossible matchup for L/P. I assume the Rebels will double the Hopkins-bound All-American. Guys like Andy Fazio, Matt Voelkel and Owen Rice will have to really bring it. But don’t you just get the feeling that this kid is destined to have another monster game? It’s scary to think just how good Ranagan has become since his sophomore year. And that doesn’t bode well for future college opponents either. I mean, he’s sure to get even better. Scary thought, right?
* Traditionally, Town only gets stronger as the season progresses and really starts to peak in the postseason. Talking with the players after the win over North Rockland, they had a Kobe-like focus on the task at hand: winning states.
* Yorktown goalie Michael Bonitatibus is going to come up HAY-UGE. Remember when these two teams met in the Class A sectional finals two years ago? Bonitatibus, who had just earned his starting spot back at the onset of the playoffs, played like a man possessed. This kid likes the championship stage and is a true competitor. Plus, don’t you think he’s just a little peeved that he wasn’t the goalie to be chosen as an All-American? As we learned in 2007, Mikey B. performs his best when there are people out there doubting him. With that said, I’d look for him to play better than he has all year.
* Kevin Interlicchio, who looked a tad worn down late in the regular season, appears to be refreshed and refueled. This kid has made a habit of putting on exhibitions against L/P. In five career games against the Rebels, he has scored 20 points (13 goals, 7 assists). I’d look for the trend to continue.
Musing on the game from a L/P standpoint:
* Veteran attackman Jack Doherty has the potential to pop off at any moment, but we haven’t really seen a “vintage JD performance” yet this year. Yorktown All-American defenseman John Fennessy had his number in the first matchup, holding Doherty to zero goals and two assists. JD will have one more chance to show everyone just how potent a player he can be. After last year’s 17-5 loss to the Huskers in the sectional finals, I can assure you that he won’t be lacking any motivation.
* I think senior middie Johnny Hittman will win the face-off battle. However, it won’t really mean all that much if L/P throws away passes and takes ill-advised shots in 6-on-6 situations. While such mental lapses used to be a grave problem for the Rebels (see:one-goal losses to Somers and Rye), it appears they have visited the lax shrink. Against Mahopac, the their offense methodically worked the ball around late in the game, burning time off the clock to secure the win. Against Yorktown, they need to continue the trend — and then some.
* Shawn Honovich is L/P’s version of John Ranagan, so he needs to be that kind of a difference-maker for the Rebels. Look for him to trigger fast-break opportunities in transition, which are always known to sway the momentum. Attackmen Will Fallo and James Bugeya — two real nice prospects that have grown into dangerous players — need to finish those opportunities. Fallo is sure to get few, but he’s also assured to get steamrolled by rabid Town d-man. In that case, he needs to hang in there — like he did in the Murphy Cup after taking a bruising hit from Brendan Brunelle — and stick the shots. Look for Bugeya to snipe few from the point, as he has a good enough shot to beat Bonitatibus from up top. A strong and physical kid, he also needs to ride like there’s no tomorrow.
* Goalies Brendan Burke and Steve Hoch both played exceptionally well in the Murphy Cup. Both need to have even stronger performances this time around. In order to limit Yorktown’s potent offense, they need to be near-perfect against long range shots.
* More than anything, L/P has to survive the first quarter. It was 9-0 after the first quarter of last year’s sectional final, which put the Rebels in an impossible position to come back. I don’t see that happening again, trust me.
Prediction: Yorktown 12, L/P 7 — In the end, Yorktown’s potential-team-of-destiny avoids a hiccup. Still, I expect this one to be very close deep into the third quarter. But watch out for the Rebels next year, as they return a ton of talent all over the field. I’ll say this: the Murphy Cup is going to be very interesting next season.