From the outside looking in, the Murphy Cup trophy doesn't look like anything special. It is basically a small silver cup, which could probably use a polishing, fastened on top of a splintering block of wood.
Of course, don't mention this to the Yorktown boys lacrosse team, which thirsts after the Murphy Cup much like NHL players do the Stanley Cup.
"They say that you can win a state championship at Yorktown, but if you lose the Murph Cup, you are going to be thinking about it the rest of your life," Syracuse-bound defenseman Austin Fusco said. "I wasn't going to let that happen my senior year."
With the fiery Fusco setting the tone, Yorktown went out and edged rival Lakeland/Panas, 12-10, on Saturday to return home with the Murphy Cup for the 22nd time in the last 25 years.
"This is a huge win for us, a great win," senior attackman Nick Bonitatibus said. "It could have gone either way, but we came out real fired up and just came out on top."
Yorktown took control from the onset, grabbing a 2-1 first-quarter lead it would never relinquish.
All-American senior attackman Connor Vercruysse scored three of his team-high four goals in the second quarter to boost the Huskers' advantage to 6-2 heading into the half.
At 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds, the powerful Vercruysse presented a major mismatch for the Rebels. He used his size and improved speed to burn defenders in isolation, dodging above goal line extended to unload countless rocket shots.
"I felt like (the Lakeland/Panas defenseman) was a little bit undersized, so I took him as much as I could and it worked out for me," said Vercruysse, who has amassed a team-high 41 goals this year.
Bonitatibus (3G, 1A), Luke Palmadesso (2G), Mike Dedvukaj (2G) and Ryan Baker (1G) rounded out the scoring for Yorktown (10-3), which bounced back from a frustrating 7-4 loss to Connecticut powerhouse Ridgefield on Thursday.
"We were changing up our shots, shooting high, shooting low and bouncing the ball," Bonitatibus said of the improved offensive perofrmance.
Palmadesso helped the Huskers go 15 of 25 at the dot to control the possession battle.
Overall, Yorktown played a hungrier brand of lacrosse, fighting on the turf for every last ground ball. Moving forward, they hope to bring the same attitude to each and every game.
"Our message the whole week was that we needed to be more physical and harder workers than the team we play," Fusco said. "When we work hard, we have good results."
Lakeland/Panas (10-4) struggled mightily with turnovers early on, throwing the ball away a handful of times before it even got set on offense.
"It was just some big game jitters," Rebels goalie Mike Zingaro said. "It was a big crowd that got in some kids heads. (Yorktown) did a good job on possessing the ball on their end."
The Rebels settled in after the break and fought their way back into the game. Jim Flaherty, who tallied a team-high four goals and one assist, tickled the twine at the 4:13 mark of the third quarter to spark a 3-1 run. The Rebels trailed 10-7 heading into the fourth.
"I played a bad first half so I had to come out and make up for it in the second half, but it wasn't enough," said Flaherty, who notched all his goals after the break.
A passing thunderstorm resulted in a one-hour delay with 6:07 left in regulation. It occurred roughly a minute after Flaherty trimmed the Huskers' lead to 12-9. The Rebels, who had netted four of the previous six goals, were unable to build on the momentum. Still, they refused to use it as an excuse.
"I don't think (the delay) had much of an effect on us — it just happened," said Zingaro, who was spectacular with 13 saves, a handful of ground balls and numerous one-man clears.
Yorktown, however, welcomed the momentary break in the action.
"It gave us a moment to regroup, refocus and get our legs back under us," Vercruysse said.
The Huskers came back out and dictated the pace, running long possessions to milk away the clock. Before long a sea of green jerseys were celebrating and posing with the Murphy Cup trophy.
The scene was a familiar one for Vercruysse, a four-year member of the varsity who has never experienced defeat in the Murphy Cup.
"The last time we lost was when I was in eighth grade," he said. "It means a lot to us to bring it back to Yorktown."
GAME NOTES: The Murphy Cup was created in honor of Charlie Murphy, who wrote a $500 check to start Yorktown's lacrosse program back in 1965. His backyard served as the training grounds for countless All-Americans. Murphy passed away at the age of 93 in 2005.
Yorktown 2 4 4 2 12
Lakeland/Panas 1 1 5 3 10
YT (5:07) Connor Vercruysse from Nick Bonitatibus | 1-0 YT
YT (3:24) Bonitatibus unassisted | 2-0 YT
LP (1:46) Kevin Prunty unassisted | 2-1 YT
YT (8:19) Vercruysse from Eric Meyreles | 3-1 YT
YT (5:16) Bonitatibus from Justin Cavallo | 4-1 YT
LP (4:33) Brian Prunty unassisted | 4-2 YT
YT (1:55) Vercruysse unassisted | 5-2 YT
YT (0:18) Vercruysse unassisted | 6-2 YT
LP (9:55) Jim Flaherty unassisted | 6-3 YT
YT (9:26) Bonitatibus unassisted | 7-3 YT *
YT (8:55) Luke Palmadesso unassisted | 8-3 YT
LP (6:55) Brian Prunty unassisted | 8-4 YT
YT (5:53) Ryan Baker from Cavallo | 9-4 YT
LP (4:13) Flaherty from Brian Prunty | 9-5 YT
YT (3:03) Mike Dedvukaj from Vercruysse | 10-5 YT
LP (1:13) Andrew Sofroniou from Flaherty | 10-6 YT
LP (0:32) Kevin Prunty unassisted | 10-7 YT
YT (11:53) Palmadesso unassisted | 11-7 YT
LP (11:35) Flaherty unassisted | 11-8 YT
YT (10:25) Dedvukaj unassisted | 12-8 YT
LP (7:09) Flaherty from Sofroniou | 12-9 YT
LP (0:01) Marc Schiliro unassisted | 12-10 YT
* Indicates manup goal
Yorktown: Connor Vercruysse (4G, 1A); Nick Bonitatibus (3G, 1A); Luke Palmadesso (2G); Mike Dedvukaj (2G); Justin Cavallo (2A); Ryan Baker (1G); Eric Meyreles (1A);
Lakeland/Panas: Jim Flaherty (4G, 1A); Brian Prunty (2G, 1A); Kevin Prunty (2G); Andrew Sofroniou (1G, 1A); Marc Schiliro (1G)
Yorktown: Austin Graham (2 saves)
Lakeland/Panas: Michael Zingaro (13 saves)
ALL-TIME MURPHY CUP RESULTS
All-time Murphy Cup results
1990: 7-6 Yorktown
1991: 9-8 Yorktown
1992: 9-3 Yorktown
1993: 12-9 Yorktown
1994: 10-6 Lakeland/Panas
1995: 9-5 Yorktown
1996: 14-6 Yorktown
1997: 6-5 Yorktown
1998: 10-9 Yorktown
1999: 5-4 Yorktown
2000: 10-3 Yorktown
2001: 16-4 Yorktown
2002: 11-3 Yorktown
2003: 16-11 Yorktown
2004: 9-3 Yorktown
2005: 12-9 Yorktown
2006: 18-9 Yorktown
2007: 10-9 Lakeland/Panas
2008: 10-9 Yorktown
2009: 11-8 Yorktown
2010: 10-7 Lakeland/Panas
2011: 11-7 Yorktown
2012: 14-10 Yorktown
2013: 14-2 Yorktown
2014: 12-10 Yorktown
Overall: Yorktown 22, Lakeland/Panas 3
Email Isaac Cass at Icass@cablevision.com | Follow him on Twitter @MSGV_Icass