For some players, playoff pressure is simply too much to handle. They melt under the bright lights, cowering in the enormity of the big stage.
It's safe to say Yorktown's Ty Schuldt isn't one them.
When confronted with the do-or-die nature of the playoffs, Schuldt has fried the opposition. As a sophomore last season, he totaled seven goals and four assists in five playoff games, including a hat-trick in the regional finals against Guilderland.
The secret behind Mr. Clutch's postseason success?
“My dad always says to act mean,” said Schuldt, laughing. “It's not like the regular season. If you lose, you don't go onto the next game. The season is on the line.”
To no one's surprise, Schuldt laid it on the line in Yorktown's Class A sectional semifinal matchup against Suffern Thursday. The junior middie put on a mean performance, netting a career-high five goals to power the second-seeded Huskers (11-7) to a 12-6 victory over the third-seeded Mounties (13-5).
Yorktown will face top-seeded Lakeland/Panas — which soundly defeated fifth-seeded Mahopac in its semifinal matchup — in the sectional finals June 2 at White Plains HS at 8 p.m.
It is a matchup the Huskers have been targeting since May 1, when Lakeland/Panas defeated Yorktown in the annual Murphy Cup for just the third time in 21 years.
In Yorktown, returning home without the Murphy Cup — named after Charlie Murphy, the Godfather of Yorktown lacrosse — is sacrilege.
“Ever since theMurph Cup we have been craving to come back and beat (L/P) in the section finals,” Schuldt said. “It's just a matter of who wants it more from here on out.”
This exact script has played out before. In 2007, Yorktown came back to defeat L/P in the sectional finals after falling in the Murphy Cup.
The Rebels have clutched the Murphy Cup in May, but they haven't gotten their hands on the sectional title plaque in June. The Huskers — winners of 28 of the last 30 sectional titles — have put it on lockdown. They have defeated L/P in three straight Class A sectional title games.
Against Suffern, Schuldt exemplified Yorktown's unmistakable championship pedigree. He wasted little time kicking off the march to the sectional finals, scoring just 38 seconds into the opening quarter to give Yorktown a 1-0 lead.
Attacking the cage from up top, Schuldt used a combination of quickness and strength to maneuver around defenders and unleash his deadly shot.
“The coaches stressed all week to dodge and re-dodge,” said Schuldt, who banged home two more goals in the second quarter to give the Huskers a 6-3 lead at the break.
Coming out of the half, Yorktown was primed and ready to extend its lead, but Mother Nature would have none of it. With 11:25 left in the third quarter, the game was delayed for 30 minutes due to thunderstorms.
Suffern took advantage of the break in the action, looking like a new team after play resumed. The Mounties outscored the Huskers 3-1 in the third quarter, fighting their way back into the game. Eric Hammershlag capped off revival, scoring his third goal of the game to cut Yorktown's lead to 7-6 with 6:04 left in the quarter.
Yorktown, however, refused to be rattled, regrouping to close out the game with authority. The Huskers outscored Suffern 5-0 in the fourth quarter.
Remy Lieberman sparked the offensive explosion, ripping a man-up goal 42 seconds into the final quarter to extend Yorktown's lead to 8-6. He also capped if off, notching the game's final goal with time dwindling down in regulation. Schuldt, Nick Mariano and Conor Gately also scored as Yorktown sledgehammered the final nail in the coffin.
According to Schuldt, the Huskers weren't the least bit fazed by Suffern's short-lived comeback attempt.
“We didn't get nervous,” Schuldt said. “We got more fired up. We knew that if we lost, we were done. We had to keep playing throughout the whole game — all 48 minutes.”
As a result, Yorktown earned the right to play another 48 minutes. And if history repeats, many more minutes after that.