ALBANY — The next step will be a bit tougher for Yorktown High's boys lacrosse team. And the 'Huskers know it. Saturday's 20-3 dismantling of Burnt Hills' fledgling lacrosse program in the regional final at the University of Albany was a step toward that next one ... and, Yorktown hopes, the one after that.
With the victory, Yorktown returned to the state semifinals — Wednesday at White Plains High, 5:30 p.m., against the winner of Saturday night's Long Island championship game between Section 11's Garden City and Section 8's Shoreham-Wading River.
The 'Huskers will go to the semis for the fifth time in eight seasons since the last of their six state championships in 2003.
"This is huge to us," said Frank Fusco, who scored five goals and added an assist. "This is just another step in the right direction for us. We set several goals for ourselves in the season and this is just another step into it. We've achieved three goals so far this season — win our section, win our league games and win our Murphy Cup (vs. Lakeland/Panas). Our last one is winning the state championship."
That next step is an enormous one, for all of Section 1's teams every year. John Jay-Cross River is the last Section 1 team to survive the state semis — a.k.a. the date with one of the Long Island powerhouses — back in 2007.
Yorktown coach Dave Marr is hopeful that the difficult schedule (the team's record is 14-6, but five of those losses were to mighty out-of-area teams, including one-goal losses to Smithtown West and St. Anthony's) will be a benefit on Wednesday.
"Always playing the Long Island team in the semis, if you look at the history of lacrosse, Long Island's a very powerful area and usually a very good team comes off of it," Marr said. "So hopefully with our schedule, and the teams we played — we weren't very successful with those teams, but the St. Anthony's and the Smithtown Wests and the games we lose by a goal or two — hopefully come back and give us a little bit of feeling that we can do it. One game. Let it roll."
Roll would be a good word to describe Yorktown in these playoffs, winning five games by a cumulative 96-16 count, including 44-8 in the state regionals. They took care of Burnt Hills, a program only 5 years old, early, piling up a 9-0 lead. And never taking anything for granted.
"You can say the good is the fact that we get to rest our guys a little bit and we're not battling it out," Marr said. "Hopefully tonight they'll be battling on Long Island. The negative that can come out of it, you know, bad habits. So you can see when we're coaching them at halftime, we're making sure they're doing the right thing and playing the right way and trying to not get into bad habits, and trying to share the ball.
"Sometimes you can get into an 'I'm going to go score a goal' kind of thing, and one-on-one, that kind of thing. But we got through it and we played, I think, good fundamental lacrosse, which is good."
Nick Mariano added four goals and two assists for the 'Huskers, while Conor Gately had a goal and four assists, and Ty Schuldt and Brian Prestreat had a pair of goals each.
"We knew we had to play hard to win this game and we really took it to them," Schuldt said.
"It means a lot. We're back in the state semis. We haven't been there (since '09), so we've got to come out hard and make a statement. We've got a big team coming up, so we've just got to have a good practice week and keep playing the way we know we can play and we'll come out with a big win."