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YORKTOWN N.Y. — Yorktown's Frankie Fusco marched onto Charlie Murphy Field carrying a large white flag prior to the start of Saturday's showdown against rival John Jay-Cross River.
A green shamrock took up most of the flag's surface area, with the initials of Yorktown lacrosse founder Charlie Murphy emblazoned inside. Beneath that the word “family” was printed in big, bold letters.
“My brother (sophomore long-stick defenseman Austin Fusco) likes to read about all the past guys,” Fusco said. “He read about Brian Carcaterra (Class of 1995) carrying out a Grateful Dead flag before every game. He brought up the idea to make a flag and carry out.”
It was the revival of an old tradition and a tip of the hat to all those teams that came before them. The Huskers then took to the field and practiced the program's other time-honored tradition: winning.
Yorktown (1-0) outscored John Jay-CR 5-2 in the second half to secure a hard-fought 8-6 season-opening victory. The Huskers have now won three straight in the rivalry and five of the past six. John Jay-CR's last victory came back in 2010.
Senior attackmen Conor Gately and Fusco paced Yorktown's offense with three goals apiece. Brian Prestreau and middie Joey Raniolo each added a goal to round out the scoring. Brian Quigley also notched an assist. Goalie Zach Reilly preserved the win with five saves.
“We have been pumped since day one and have been ready,” Fusco said. “We circled this game.”
Fusco made sure Yorktown pulled it out, scoring his third goal to break a 6-6 tie with 10:12 left in the fourth quarter. He finished it after scooping up a rebound off his initial shot. Per usual, Gately put the wheels in motion with a pretty backside look.
“The (John Jay-CR defender) had a great stick on it and knocked it down,” Fusco said. “I had to keep my head down, pick up the ball and try to finish around the goal.”
Raniolo added an insurance goal with 3:22 left in regulation. Gately scored two of his goals during the second-half surge and Prestreau notched one.
While Yorktown's offense came alive in the second half, it was the polar opposite during the first two quarters. John Jay-CR (1-1) — running head coach Tim Schurr's patented zone defense — stymied and frustrated the Huskers' potent attack at every turn. Stranded out on the perimeter, Yorktown was reduced to a handful of low-percentage shots.
“We knew (John Jay-CR) had a very good defense,” said Gately, who will play at Marquette next season. “We were flat-footed and everyone was trying to do their own thing. After a couple of timeouts we were frustrated and we realized we had to move our feet, cut and things would click.”
Both of Yorktown's first-quarter goals — scored by Fusco and Gately a mere 14 seconds apart — came on unsettled situations off costly John Jay-CR turnovers.
“It's tough to win when you give a high-powered team opportunities like that,” Indians coach Tim Schurr said.
Tom Beck and Shawn Smith tallied two goals apiece to pace John Jay-CR's offense. Teammates Doug Brown (1G), Dan Lobosco (1G), Matt Ferentini (2A) and Brandon Lew (1A) rounded out the offensive production.
Beck and Lobosco scored back-to-back goals inside the first three minutes of the third quarter to stretch John Jay-CR's lead to 6-4. Smith notched both his goals in the first quarter as the teams played to a 2-2 draw. Beck and Brown cashed in on second-quarter goals to help John Jay-CR take a narrow 4-3 lead into the half.
Indians goalie Thomas Branca was tremendous with 12 saves, including at least five from right in on the doorstep.
“We ask our goalies to make all the saves they are supposed to make and one or two extra,” Schurr said. “Today, I think (Branca) made all the saves he was supposed to make plus five or six extra. He definitely kept us in the game and this is the best I've ever seen him play.”
Despite the eventual outcome, Schurr was pleased with his team's performance. Most figured the game would be much more lopsided.
“I was proud of them,” the coach said. “I think they played very hard from start to finish and that's what we strive to do. I have no complaints. We have to clean up things with the turnovers once we get the ball down to offense. Some of the things we are doing are pretty poor and make it easy on a good team.You can't succeed when you give them too many opportunities.”
Yorktown's second-half opportunities were also the result of Danny Manning's hard work at the dot. The junior faceoff specialist was instrumental in helping the Huskers win six of the nine second-half draws.
“He's a fantastic faceoff guy,” Gately said of Manning. “I mean, 90 percent of the time we trust him to get the ball. In games like this, faceoffs are huge and it showed.”
The Huskers will look to make it two in a row as they travel to Putnam Valley for their next game on April 3. John Jay-CR squares off against host Suffern (2-0) in its next game on April 5.
GAME NOTES: Yorktown sported new jerseys for the first time since 1984. According to Frankie Fusco, the Nike uniforms were supplied by an anonymous donor and arrived on Friday. The Huskers will still wear their old green jerseys on the road.
John Jay-CR 2 2 2 0 6
Yorktown 2 1 3 2 8
(9:08) Shawn Smith unassisted | 1-0 JJ
(4:59) Conor Gately unassisted | 1-1
(4:45) Frankie Fusco unassisted | 2-1 YT
(2:46) Smith from Matt Ferentini | 2-2
(10:32) Fusco unassisted | 3-2 YT
(7:21) Doug Brown unassisted | 3-3
(3:24) Tommy Beck from Ferentini | 4-3 JJ
(11:13) Gately unassisted | 4-4
(10:51) Beck unassisted | 5-4 JJ
(9:20) Dan Lobosco from Brandon Lew | 5-4 JJ
(7:18) Brian Prestreau unassisted | 6-5 JJ
(5:00) Gately unassisted | 6-6
(10:12) Fusco unassisted | 7-6 YT
(3:22) Joey Raniolo from Brian Quigley | 8-6 YT
1Q: 3-2 YT / 2Q: 3-1 JJ / 3Q: 4-2 YT / 4Q: 2-1 YT
Totals: Yorktown (10/18) | John Jay-CR (8/18)
John Jay-CR (18): Jack Lambert (4), Mike Skluth (4), Danny Caiola (2), Doug Brown (2), Matt Lanza (1), Brani Begonja (1), Matt Ferentini (1), Tom Beck (1), Steven Cola (1), Shawn Smith (1)
Yorktown (20): Danny Manning (5), Austin Fusco (4), Frank Fusco (3), Brian Quigley (2), Brian Prestreau (2), Joey Raniolo (1), Jack Phelan (1), Conor Gately (1), Nick Mariano (1)
Email Isaac Cass at Icass@cablevision.com | Follow him on Twitter @MSGV_Icass