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Austin Fusco let out a few primal screams as Yorktown took the field prior to Saturday's NYS Class B regional final at University at Albany. The memory of last year's painful state playoff loss to Niskayuna was still fresh in his mind.
"We walked past Niskayuna [which just finished up in the Class A game] coming in here," Fusco said. "Being on this field and Niskayuna last year, I was pretty fired up. The guys knew where we were. We lost here last year and that set the tone that we weren't losing here again."
Albany Academy never stood a chance.
The Huskers (16-5) jumped out to a 6-0 first-quarter lead en route to a lopsided 17-5 win over the previously undefeated Cadets (16-1) of Section 2. Yorktown will square off against Long Island champ Lynbrook (Section 8) in the state semifinals on Wednesday at Hofstra at 5:30 p.m.
Mike Dedvukaj and Connor Vercruysse scored four goals apiece to lead the Huskers' offense, which has racked up an eye-popping 80 goals in its five playoff wins. Teammates Kris Alvarado (3G), Nick Bonitatibus (2G, 2A) and Nick Del Bene (2G, 1A) also had big games.
"We had a good scouting report," Yorktown coach Dave Marr said. "Luke (Palmadesso) won the faceoffs and our guys moved the ball and shot well early. It gave us a good start and we rolled from here."
Palmadesso, a Villanova-bound All-American, went 13 of 14 at the dot before being relieved of his duties in the second half.
"I tried to get into a rhythm early and had a good warm-up," Palmadesso said. "As soon as the game started, I stayed locked in, kept that going and kept it rolling the rest of the game. I thought my wings did a really good job coming in, too."
The biggest game of Yorktown's season now awaits. The Huskers have struggled at this juncture since winning their last state championship in 2003. They are winless in their last six downstate semifinal appearances against the Long Island champ.
All of this isn't lost on the Huskers, who build up to this moment year after year.
"We know that we've been to this game — especially my senior class — and haven't been able to get it done," Palmadesso said. "We couldn't be more focused and I couldn't be happier with where we are at right now with the team. We are locked in and ready to go."
Yorktown's seniors are taking a different approach this year, choosing to focus more on the time they have left with each other as opposed to the magnitude of the game itself.
"We talked with a bunch of alumni guys," Fusco said. "They said that obviously it's a huge game, but you can't let the pressure get to you. You have to enjoy the time left you have with your friends playing lacrosse and put things in perspective that it's just a game — even though it doesn't seem like it to some guys. We have to enjoy the little bit left we've got here, a week at the most."
GAME NOTES: Yorktown is searching for its seventh state title in program history … Section 1 improved to 54-12 all-time against Section 2 in the state playoffs.
Yorktown 6 7 4 0 17
Albany Academy 0 3 0 2 5
YT (9:51) Mike Dedvukaj unassisted | 1-0 YT
YT (5:56) Nick Bonitatibus | 2-0 YT
YT (4:59) Dedvukaj from Luke Palmadesso | 3-0 YT *
YT (3:04) Kris Alvarado unassisted | 4-0 YT
YT (1:07) Connor Vercruysse from Bonitatibus | 5-0 YT
YT (0:20) Bonitatibus from Justin Cavallo | 6-0 YT
YT (11:38) Ryan Baker unassisted | 7-0 YT
YT (9:49) Niko Szelest from Josh Egan | 7-1 YT *
YT (7:41) Dedvukaj unassisted | 8-1 YT
YT (7:17) Alvarado unassisted | 9-1 YT
YT (5:44) Vercruysse from Del Bene | 10-1 YT *
YT (5:38) Palmadesso unassisted | 11-1 YT
AA (4:58) Andrew Martin unassisted | 11-2 YT
YT (3:57) Vercruysse unassisted | 12-2 YT
AA (2:59) Matt Balter from Shawn Knowlton | 12-3 YT
YT (1:55) Alvarado unassisted | 13-3 YT
YT (11:31) Dedvukaj unassisted | 14-3 YT
YT (11:24) Del Bene from Vercruysse | 15-3 YT
YT (4:57) Vercruysse from Bonitatibus | 16-3 YT
YT (0:01) Del Bene from Palmadesso | 17-3 YT
AA (9:35) Knowlton unassisted | 17-4 YT
AA (0:03) Balter unassisted | 17-5 YT
* Indicates man-up goal
Yorktown: Mike Dedvukaj (4G); Nick Bonitatibus (2G, 2A); Luke Palmadesso (1G, 1A); Kris Alvarado (3G); Connor Vercruysse (4G, 1A); Ryan Baker (1G); Justin Cavallo (1A); Nick Del Bene (2G, 1A)
Albany Academy: Matt Balter (2G); Shawn Knowlton (1G, 1A); Andrew Martin (1G)
Yorktown: Austin Graham (3 saves); Liam Donnelly (2 saves)
Albany Academy: Sasha McEldowney (8 saves)
Email Isaac Cass at Icass@cablevision.com | Follow him on Twitter @MSGV_Icass
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