For the Yorktown boys lacrosse team, there is one regular-season game that is equally important as any playoff game: The Murphy Cup.
Created in honor of Yorktown lacrosse godfather Charlie Murphy, the annual game pits the Huskers against crosstown rival Lakeland/Panas.
The Huskers have dominated the rivalry, walking away with the Murp Cup trophy 18 of the past 20 years heading into this season.
In 2010, Yorktown failed to make it 19 of 21, losing to Lakeland/Panas, 10-7, on May 1.
“It was the lowest feeling any of us have had,” Yorktown goalie Derek Koelsch said.
While the pain of the Murphy Cup loss won't really fade till a potential rematch against the Rebels in the Class A sectional tournament, Yorktown (8-4) moved things in a positive direction with an 11-9 victory over Ridgefield (8-2) on Tuesday.
“It was definitely a feeling of redemption,” said Koelsch, who made 10 saves in between the pipes. “We had to come out strong — especially after [the Murphy Cup loss], which was a little embarrassing, to be honest. We just wanted to come out firing today and make up for that. We played with a lot more heart today. We had a lot more team chemistry.”
Yorktown immediately got back to work following the Murphy Cup, engaging in a lengthy film study and practice the very next day.
“We had a very intense, physical and long practice,” Koelsch said. “And I think that's just what we needed. We came out to play today right from the start.”
After Ridgefield grabbed an early 1-0 lead on a goal by Aaron Mathias, Yorktown went on a 6-1 run to take a 6-2 lead at the break. Star attackman Kevin Interlicchio shouldered the scoring load early on, netting three of his game-high four goals in the first half.
Interlicchio, who now has 168 career goals, is just 11 shy of topping Yorktown's all-time scoring record, which is currently held by former Syracuse star Paul Carcaterra.
“It's an important thing,” Yorktown coach Dave Marr said of Interlicchio closing in on the record. “It's historic. He's putting his name up there with some really great players.”
Interlicchio went down with what looked to be a severe knee injury with just under six minutes left in regulation, but he was able to walk it off and returned for the latter stages of the game. The injury was similar to the one he suffered earlier in the season against Putnam Valley.
“I think he landed on it wrong,” said Marr said. “But nothing popped or anything like that. He just banged it, so it's a little tender.”
Yorktown padded its lead during a dominant third quarter, outscoring Ridgefield 5-2 to grab an 11-4 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Unfamiliar faces powered the surge, as defenseman Tyler Fahey scored his first-career goal and Jack Thorp registered just the third of his career.
Defensively, the Huskers also had a slew of unsung heroes. As a result of the overall lackluster effort in the Murphy Cup, Yorktown's coaches decided to give some reserves a shot. Sophomore Eric Cooley and junior Andrew Cohen made the most of it, both having solid games at close defense. Cooley, a 6-3, 260-pound defenseman, was an intimidating presence on the crease, sliding with authority.
“Those guys didn't play at all on Saturday,” Marr said. "But they did well today.”
Ridgefield made a spirited fourth-quarter comeback run, scoring the game's final six goals, including three during the final one minute and thirty seconds of regulation. It was eerily similar to Yorktown's late-game letdown in an 11-9 win over Chaminade earlier in the season. In both cases, the Huskers batted down the hatches to preserve a win.
"I think we got a little complacent,” Koelsch said. “They weren't going to give up. We just kind of got on our heels for a second, but luckily we got strong and stopped them in the end.”
Yorktown: Kevin Interlicchio (4G), Nick Mariano (2G, 1A), Remy Lieberman (1G), Justin Mabus (1G, 1A), Ty Schuldt (1G, 1A), Jake Thorp (1G), Tyler Fahey (1G)
Ridgefield: Aaron Mathias (3G), Kurt Mueller (2G, 1A), Mike Galione (1G, 2A), Ian Vazquez (1G), Jack Philbin (1G), Eric Scala (1G), Aidan Scott (1A)