Regardless of what happens this week, it’s been a fantastic year for lacrosse in the Rochester region, as all three of Wednesday’s Upstate Semifinal contests feature Section V teams, Fairport in Class A, Irondequoit in Class B, and Penn Yan in Class C. Section IV Class A's Ithaca and Jamesville-DeWitt (Section III, Class B) and Homer (Section III, Class C) round out the other upstate teams left in the fight for state supremacy.
The games are being held at Cicero-North Syracuse — the location of last year's state championships — and each should be exciting match-ups. Here's a look at each remaining upstate team, their leaders and how they've made it this far.
Meanwhile, Long Island will square off against the Hudson Valley and Albany regions in three games at Hofstra which will be covered by Ty Xanders. Casey Vock and Ty have the breakdown. Follow @ILPreps tomorrow for results and updates from the games:
Class A: Ithaca vs. Fairport
Ithaca (17-1): Though the team lost its two most dangerous midfielders last season in Joe Bucci (Georgetown) and Riley Lasda (Penn State), Ithaca has put together another dominating season, losing only once so far. To whom? To Fairport — the team it faces in the next round of the playoffs. The Little Red lost the Class A title game in overtime last season to the Farmingdale Dalers, but the team has put that in the past. The loss to Fairport is another story, as this deep, experienced team is determined to avenge the early-season 12-7 setback to the Raiders. The Little Red's athleticism on the defensive end, featuring IL's #36 Young Gun Junior Luke Mendola and Winston Wenham, could be huge in the rematch against Fairport.
Key players: Paolo Ciferri, M, Sr. (Syracuse); Eli Lasda, M, Jr. (Penn State); Winston Wenham, D/LSM, Sr.; Luke Mendola, D, Jr.; Doug Biondi, A/M, Jr.; Adam Fiore, A, Sr. (Guilford)
Goals scored/allowed: 14.7/4.7
Fairport (20-0): With one of the cleanest seasons in all of the Class A teams in the state, the Red Raiders have rolled thus far, owning enormous wins over Ithaca, Jamesville-DeWitt, Irondequoit, Penfield (x2), Penn Yan and an unbelievable 7-0 shutout of Orchard Park last weekend. The team is headlined by All-American netminder Blaze Riorden (Albany) and All-American middie Derek DeJoe. But the roster includes a list of players destined for NCAA rosters, including senior midfielder Brian Martin (Binghamton) and senior defenders Keith Mierzwa (Clarkson) and Chris Bechle (Binghamton). Senior attackman Pat VanBordle has come on strong to lead the Raiders in points with 56 goals and 18 assists, and junior Jay Vakiener has become a clutch threat from the Raiders midfield. When Riorden gets hot, Fairport becomes even more difficult to face. Just ask Orchard Park.
Key players: Pat VanBortle, A, Sr. (56G, 18A); Derek DeJoe, M, Sr. (29G, 16A); Brian Martin, M, Sr. (26G, 27A); Blaze Riorden, G, Sr. (133 saves, 70.7 save %), Kyle Sterzin, A, Sr. (23G, 20A), Jay Vakiener, M, Jr. (17G, 18A)
Goals scored/allowed: 11.8/4.2
Class B: Jamesville-DeWitt vs. Irondequoit
Jamesville-DeWitt (16-3) – This J-D team might not have the perfect record that it did the last two seasons, but the Red Rams are not to be taken lightly. Led by Syracuse-commits Jordan Evans and Scott Firman (#4 and #25 on IL's Junior Young Guns list) and prolific finisher Deke Burns (Harvard), the Red Rams will have their work cut out for them facing the same Irondequoit team its knocked off on the way to state titles the last two seasons. The team has a host of new faces making contributions, but will again look to its experienced recruits to lead the way. If Irondequoit finds a rhythm, a lot could fall on the shoulders of junior goaltender Joe Shapiro, who got his first varsity start this season.
Key Players: Jordan Evans, M/A, Jr. (39G, 31A); Deke Burns, A, Sr. (55G, 36A); Scott Firman, D, Jr., McLaren Brady, A, Sr. (24G, 18A); Griffin Fiener, A, Jr. (47G, 2A) ( Joe Shapiro, G, Jr. (113 saves, 59.2 save %)
Goals for/against: 15.9/6.0
Irondequoit (18-2) – The Eagles roster includes the majority of the impact players who have helped coach Craig Whipple's team make it to the state semifinals in the previous two seasons, and now they are mostly seniors, making this a scary squad at this point in the playoffs. Nick Doktor (Penn) is a two-time All-American and considered one of the best attackman in all of upstate. But the Eagles have talented role players all over the field, including two-way grinder Gunner Miller (West Point), also named an All-American this season, LSM Garrett Warren (VMI), LSM Loren Caples and his twin brother, Brielle — some of the most athletic players in Section V. Connor Enright (Mercyhurst), defender Andrew Codes (Towson), senior attackman Jake Schmidt and netminder Eric Fischer (Binghamton) — along with each name already mentioned — were all All-League or All-Section selections this season. This team is bursting at the seams with skilled, seasoned veterans who are hungry to get over the hump and finally reach the state title game.
Key players: Nick Doktor, A, Sr. (39G, 26A); Connor Enright, A, Sr. (40G, 13A); Gunnar Miller, M, Sr. (39G, 18A); Briele Caples, M, Sr. (29G, 11A); Jake Schmidt, A, Sr. (29G, 12A); Eric Fischer, G, Sr. (153 saves, 61.9 save %)
Goals for/against: 12.1/5.8
Class C: Homer vs. Penn Yan
Homer (18-3) – Homer came out of the Section III Class C woodwork this season, upsetting a Cazenovia team that looked destined for another shot at the state title. But thanks to a balanced group of offensive standouts, both seniors and juniors, including Beau Riley (who exploded for nine points against Salmon River), Homer has emerged as a serious contender for the Class C throne. Homer will need a strong showing from its defense, which is underrated like the team in general and includes a couple of notable playmakers in junior LSM Alec Sovocool (an All-Name candidate) and senior defender Anthony Contento, who was fantastic against the Shamrocks. The Trojans will need to be as efficient with the ball as they were in the quarterfinals, and a lot of that will start with senior Conner Johnston, who has been a force at the face-off X for the Trojans.
Key Players: Beau Riley, A, Jr. (44G, 31A); Brandon Maxson, A, Jr. (39G, 22A), Sean Ferrito, A, Jr. (38G, 15A); Conner Johnston, M/FO, Sr. (41G, 10A); Alec Sovocool, LSM, Jr. (9G, 2A); Aaron Zimmerman, A/M, Sr. (31G, 18A/Navy); Jonathan Cottrell (198 saves, 59.3 save%)
Goals for/against: 12.6/6.4
Penn Yan (19-2) – Regardless of what happens from here on out, this Penn Yan squad will likely be in the playoff mix for the next two seasons, thanks to some of the best players in upstate's Class of 2014 all on one roster. A first-team All-Section attackman Bradley Voigt is a star in the making (with 189 career points already), as is linemate Rion Davison and All-Section netminder Brandon Maciejewski, arguably one of the best sophomore goalies in the nation (just ask Brett Queener). Thanks to Brandon's play and an underrated defense, this team knocked off one of the most powerful offenses in the country in Section VI's Silver Creek. The Mustangs should give Homer its toughest test of the postseason. And don't forget about Dylan Yonts (St. Leo), a first-team All-Section pick at midfield whose been lighting up the scoreboard for several seasons.
Key players: Bradley Voigt, A, So.(60G, 43A); Dylan Yonts, M, Sr. (42G, 29A); Rion Davison, A, So. (39G, 27A); Ryan Maciejewski, A, Jr. (34G. 36A); James Burdette, D, Jr.; Brandon Maciejewski (198 saves, 68.7 save %)
Goals for/against: 12.1/4.3
Class A: West Islip vs. Niskayuna
West Islip (19-1) - There is never any dropoff with WI, Scott Craig simply puts his team into the position to win championships every year. Last year was one to forget but this year's crew has to be considered a favorite to win the Class 'A' title. The Lions, paced by an opportunistic attack, are money in the bank in the final 24 minutes of the game. Their 'no-name' defense is superb, but they'll have to handle Niskayuna's attack in order to become victorious. Spectators should be in for a slugfest, with West Islip having the advantage based on their superior competition this spring.
Key Players: Tom Moore, A, Sr. (Denver); Brendan Smith, A, Sr. (Marquette); Jon Reese, M, Sr. (Yale); Nick Aponte, M, Jr. (Penn State); Anthony Santo, LSM, Sr. (Sacred Heart); Jack Kelly, G, Sr. (Brown)
Goals scored/allowed: 11.7/5.25
Niskayuna (20-1) - Though they haven't played the hardest schedule in the world, the Silver Warriors have been tremendous this spring, especially offensively. The attack can give the opposition nightmares although the D has not been as strong as they have been in the past. They'll have to rebound from a long bus trip, which makes me believe the second half will be interesting, as West Islip is considered a great third and fourth quarter team. If their defense can handle the opposition, it should be a close game.
Key Players: Luke Goldstock, A, Jr. (North Carolina); Matt Sexton, A, Sr. (Penn State); Lucas Maloney, A, Jr. (Penn State); Tannor McIvor, F/O, Sr. (Williams); Justin Picardi, M, Sr. (Holy Cross)
Goals scored/allowed: 17.5/5.0
Class B: Garden City vs. Yorktown
Garden City (20-0) - The Trojans have exceeded expectations in 2012, demonstrating fantastic depth at midfield, a dynamic and high-powered attack and an All-American netminder behind a new-look defense. Steve Finnell's bunch plays a technically sound, excitable brand of lacrosse that matches up extremely well with Yorktown. The defense is capable of handing the Huskers' standout attack unit, featuring Conor Gately and company. Face-offs and playoff experience are also big advantages on Wednesday night.
Key Players: Devin Dwyer, A, Sr. (Harvard); Liam Kennedy, A, Sr. (Deerfield Academy); Justin Guterding, A, Jr. (Duke); Patric Berkery, M, Sr. (Penn); Eugene Berkery, D, Sr. (Middlebury); Dan Marino, G, Sr. (Virginia)
Goals scored/allowed: 13.7/4.8
Yorktown (16-4) - While the Huskers have faltered against non-league competition, they've certainly been impressive at times. A highlight was their thrilling overtime win over rival John Jay in the Section 1 final last week. Playmakers abound on the offensive end, but the biggest key will be the play of goalie Austin Graham. 'Town gave the Trojans all they could handle in last year's semifinals and could very well do so again depending on which team shows up.
Key Players: Conor Gately, A, Sr. (Marquette); Nick Mariano, A, Jr. (UMass); Frankie Fusco, M, Sr. (Drexel); Austin Fusco, LSM, Soph. (Syracuse); Trevor Koelsch, D, Johns Hopkins
Goals scored/allowed: 13.1/8.3
Class C: Shoreham-Wading River vs. Bronxville
Shoreham-Wading River (16-3) - The Wildcats will be a tough out in this year's New York Class 'C' playoffs because of their top group of players, broken down here (link LIC article). Head coach Tom Rotanz has a special albeit top heavy group that are likely experienced enough to go far. Their zone D will be a fun matchup with the Broncos' attack, which is said to be explosive and athletic.
Key Players: Tim Rotanz, A, Jr. (Maryland); James Higgins, A, Sr. (uncommitted) Trevor Brosco, M, Sr. (Notre Dame); Chris Mahoney, D, Sr. (Ohio State); Tyler Ludjen, G, Sr. (Siena)
Goals scored/allowed: 10.1/6.3
Bronxville (20-1) - Prepared by a very challenging schedule, Bronxville has overcome graduation losses to be in this position with just one loss at the hands of Lakeland/Panas. The Broncos are fueled by their superb transition game, as well as the Grass brothers at attack. The question mark lies on the opposite end. The Wildcats are nifty offensively, creating matchup problems for Bronxville. My gut says that this will be a closer game than people think it will be.
Key Players: Jack Grass, A, Jr. (Johns Hopkins); Brewster Warble, M, Jr. (Brown); Henry Grass, A, Fr.; Reilly Walsh, A, Jr.