“Hard work and we played as a team.”
Those words simply summarized by Yorktown attacker Connor Vercruysse were the difference when it came to the Huskers’ 12-8 victory over Long Island’s Chaminade on Saturday afternoon at Charlie Murphy Field.
However, Yorktown’s (10-1) victory over MSG Varsity’s top-ranked team in the Boys Lacrosse Tri-State Top 20 was anything but simple.
The difference in the game was the Yorktown’s defense, and their ability to turn big stops into transition goals.
“Definitely started off with Trevor [Koelsch] playing against [Ryan] Lukocovic, one of the best players in the country, he did a great job on him,” says Austin Fusco. “He played well with his feet and played fundamentally sound. Me and Jack [Phelan] did a great job with our matchups too.”
The Husker defense was stifling in the second half, and did not allow a goal until the 6:17 mark in the fourth quarter. Austin Graham made 10 saves.
“We just feel very comfortable playing together as a unit,” Fusco said about his defensive contingent. “We’ve been playing together for a few years now. We felt very comfortable with our matchups coming in and confident during the game.”
These two teams were deadlocked at four at the half, but as soon as the second half started, the Huskers took control.
Vercruysse was held scoreless in the first half, but the 30+ goal scorer would not be held in check in the second half.
Yorktown scored five goals in the key third quarter including a pair of scores from Vercruysse and Brian Prestreau. The senior midfielder Prestreau gave his team a lead with 6:06 remaining in the quarter as he would take the ball deep into the offensive zone, lunged, and was able to beat Danny Fowler in net for the Flyers to make it 5-4. Vercruysse got his scoring touch going on an extra man opportunity in which the Huskers cashed in on to make it 7-4, and take the largest lead of the game.
“Our coaches are always telling us to keep shooting, fundamentally sound, overhand, high-to-low, and they will start falling,” says Vercruysse who now has 34 goals on the 2013 campaign. “We just kept trying to pour them in, and we did a good job at that.”
The offensive onslaught put on the nation’s second-ranked team had to catch the Flyers off guard. Chaminade held a 4-3 lead with 3:32 remaining in the first half after Lukacovic scored on a 3-on-2 transition goal from John McDaid. After that tally, Yorktown went on to score the next seven goals on the contest.
“It’s not really that surprising,” Vercruysse said. “They are definitely a great team, but we always come out and play hard. We can play with anyone.”
Lukacovic (three goals, one assist) would stop the Yorktown scoring streak with his second of the afternoon, and immediately following Sean Cerrone tallied his second to cut the lead to four at 10-6. The two Flyers goals were quickly matched by a pair of Huskers goals from Nicky Bonitatibus and Nick Mariano ending any hope for a Chaminade (9-1) comeback.
“It was a tough game,” said Lukacovic. “We had some tough calls near the end of the game, but we’re forgetting about it. We’re moving on to the next game. This game is over.”
The senior now has back-to-back games of scoring a hat trick and assisting on a goal, and now stands at 23 goals and 18 assists on the season. Despite, the stat line, the outcome was clearly not what Chaminade had intended on a sunny day at Yorktown.
“I think they hit every shot in the third quarter. To shoot like they did, especially against Danny Fowler, is quite an accomplishment. Best of luck to them for the rest of the season,” Lukacovic said.
With the win, Yorktown will be ensured of moving up from the number 11 spot in the tri-state poll, but the shockwave of the win could lead the Huskers to even bigger victories in the near future.
“It definitely gives us a great confidence boost,” Fusco says, “we always feel that we can play with teams like that…this game obviously shows that.”
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