All week long, a number of notable Yorktown alumni have been texting some of the current stars, hoping to help the 'Huskers get off on the right foot. They got a running start against John Jay and opened the season with a surprising 12-7 victory on Saturday.
"We really wanted revenge," Justin Mabus said. "Losing this game by a goal last year did not sit well, and some of the seniors from that team let us know they wanted us to win this game. We all stepped up. We all played our hearts off. It's awesome to have all these people behind you."
Mike Daniello got loose in traffic and gave the Indians a 1-0 lead three minutes in, but Yorktown was dominant in the faceoff circle and took control of the game.
Mabus evened the score, then Brian Quigley and Nick Mariano gave the 'Huskers a quick 3-1 lead. John Jay was being forced to play defense for long stretches. Brendan Morris narrowed the lead, but Conor Gately and Mariano answered before the first period was over.
"They have a lot of guys who can hurt you and they played a team game," John Jay coach Tim Schurr said. "We played a lot of defense because we couldn't win possession on the faceoffs. The offensive guys are watching us play defense for a long time and they end up getting anxious."
And that's not a good thing.
The Indians wound up rushing a number of possessions, which only fed into what Yorktown was doing. Each mistake allowed the 'Huskers to patiently work the ball around, take some time off the clock and build the lead.
Frank Fusco had them in front 6-2 at halftime.
"Winning all those faceoffs was huge," said Ty Schuldt, who along with Hunter Palancia kept winning the ball for Yorktown. "It's definitely frustrating to any team that wants to get the offense going. We had possession most of the game."
After letting a lead slip away in last year's game, the 'Huskers were not letting go.
Schuldt tacked on another goal in the first minute of the second half. Brendan Morris and Jake Weil made it 7-4, but Yorktown took a deep breath, moved the ball around, let the clock run and got a spinning goal from Quigley. Schuldt got one more before the period ended.
"If you remember, last year we had the same 6-2 lead at halftime," Mabus said. "I guess you could say we got our heads out of that game. At halftime, we all reminded each other. We had to come out even harder, and that's what we did."
The 'Huskers were good on defense, too.
Matthew Sialiano was strong in goal in his first starting assignment, and Eric Cooley, Brian Fahey and Trevor Koelsch were all over the ball except for a lapse in the final minutes. The cushion went to 12-4 before John Jay threw in a couple of late goals.
"I think we're playing well," Yorktown coach Dave Marr said. "Offensively, we shared the ball with each other. Defensively, we were good until the last couple of minutes. We had the ball. We controlled it well. We got good shots off, and when they got the ball, they got a little anxious. That's what happens when you don't have the ball much."