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Call it a case of déjà vu.
For the second straight year, Yorktown (9-2) knocked off an undefeated Chaminade team, edging the host Flyers, 5-3, in a defensive-minded battle on Saturday afternoon.
The Huskers took a 6-5 lead in the overall series between the two Tri-State powers, which dates back to 2004. Yorktown had lost its previous six games out on Long Island, a streak that dated back to 2010.
"We have a lot of respect for this team and this program," Huskers senior midfielder Luke Palmadesso said of Chaminade. "Anytime we can come out and get a win like this — especially on Long Island — it is huge for us."
Palmadesso arguably played the biggest role in making it a reality. The Villanova-bound All-American went a perfect 11 for 11 on faceoffs, allowing Yorktown to masterfully dictate the pace and flow of the game. He also added a goal and an assist.
"I thought it was big to try and get the ball every time, especially with this low-scoring a game," said Palmadesso, who was knocked out in the first half of last year's Chaminade game with a head injury. "Every possession mattered."
It was a definite sore spot for Chaminade (8-1), which never really got its offense going due to a lack of overall possessions.
"(Palmadesso) is very good and we had no answer for him," Flyers coach Jack Moran said. "(Yorktown) was very disciplined offensively and they had three- to four-minute possessions, which isn't really our style."
Chaminade also didn't have an answer for Yorktown star attackman Connor Vercruysse, who buried a game-high four goals with his patented right-handed rifle of a shot. The Rutgers-bound All-American tallied three goals in the second half, including the eventual game-winner with 8:25 left in regulation. Vercruysse then put the game on ice at the 4:23 mark, ripping a wicked low shot that dinged off the post and in.
"Guys were moving around well together and everyone was looking for the open guy," a modest Vercruysse said of his performance. "When I got my shots, I stuck them. We played great all around."
On a day when Yorktown's high-powered offense managed just five goals, its defense was undeniably the biggest difference-maker. Goalie Austin Graham stood tall between the pipes with 10 saves, helping the Huskers limit Chaminade to a season-low three goals.
"Austin Graham played unbelievable today," Palmadesso said. "I think it was one of the best games he's ever had. It was the best I've seen him play."
Austin Fusco captained an airtight close defense unit alongside Chris Cunnington and Dan Del Bene. Starting long-stick middie Tomas Rodriguez played a crucial role in blanking Flyers leading scorer Sean Cerrone, who was held without a goal for the first time all season. Defensive midfielders Eric Meyreles and Ryan Cegielski were like Energizer Bunnies between the boxes.
After giving up a season-high 11 goals in a loss to Maryland powerhouse McDonogh last weekend, the Huskers went back to the drawing board and tightened up the screws on defense. They shifted some midfielders around, designating a group just for offense and another group only for defense.
Clearly, it was the right move.
"If you told me we were only going to score five goals, I thought it would have be a 10-5 loss coming in," Huskers coach Dave Marr said. "We played really good team defense and had good communication. Having the ball a lot on offense also kept us fresh. (Our defense) was excited the whole game and didn't have any lapses in concentration, which was big. Our man-to-man defense was strong. Chaminade has good players and we took away their top hands and stuff like that."
Carney Mahon, Jack Mangan and Jack Tigh paced the Flyers' offense with one goal apiece. Matt Isnardi made five of his eight saves in the opening quarter to help Chaminade keep the early deficit to 2-0.
The Flyers had a handful of chances to tie it in the fourth quarter but struggled to get shots on cage. They had a prime 6-on-4 extra-man opportunity with 7:04 left in regulation but came up empty.
"We were looking for a guy to get in a gap and shoot," Moran said of the extra-man sequence. "It's not too complicated. We know we are going to get a guy open. We got it in, shot the ball and hit the kid with it. That was the story of the day. We didn't get the ball where we wanted on them."
Mike Dedvukaj, Nick Bonitatibus and Kris Alvarado rounded out Yorktown's offensive production with one assist apiece.
Chaminade entered the game as the No. 2-ranked team in MSG Varsity's Tri-State Top 20, while the Huskers were slotted at No. 15. Like last year, Yorktown proved its worth on the turf.
"Yorktown's a really good team," Moran said. "I think they are vastly underrated."
Yorktown 2 0 1 2 5
Chaminade 0 1 1 1 3
YT (9:23) Luke Palmadesso unassisted | 1-0 YT
YT (2:40) Connor Vercruysse from Mike Dedvukaj | 2-0 YT
CH (9:06) Carney Mahon unassisted | 2-1 YT
CH (7:07) Jack Mangan unassisted | 2-2
YT (6:01) Vercruysse from Palmadesso | 3-2 YT *
YT (9:31) Jack Tigh unassisted | 3-3
YT (8:25) Vercruysse from Kris Alvarado | 4-3 YT
YT (4:23) Vercruysse from Nick Bonitatibus | 5-3 YT
* Indicates man-up goal
Yorktown: Connor Vercruysse (4G); Luke Palmadesso (1G, 1A); Mike Dedvukaj (1A); Nick Bonitatibus (1A); Kris Alvarado (1A)
Chaminade: Carney Mahon (1G); Jack Mangan (1G); Jack Tigh (1G)
Email Isaac Cass at Icass@cablevision.com | Follow him on Twitter @MSGV_Icass