Friday - Long Island Remains Undefeated

- This year has been a year of great competition and great lacrosse games. In a long expected match-up, Long Island beat Central 7-6 and remained 4-0 with NYC tomorrow. Having defeated Western by two goals and Hudson Valley by one goal, The Island added their fourth by defeating Central by one goal.

LI - CentralEach of their opponents battled hard to defeat the perennial favorite and three time defending champion, but none could overcome Long Island`s drive to win. Although every team wants to win the gold and to beat Long Island in the Gold Medal game, there is a certain rivalry with Central that none of the other teams have. In the past 21 Empire State Game Tournaments (where Men's lacrosse has been played) Central and Long Island have appeared in the gold medal game (or finished in gold and silver in years without a medal game) 14 times. Additionally, four out of the last five years Long Island and Central have been the Gold and Silver Medalists.

Long Island's Connor Engish scored by driving straight towards the goal with 7:46 remaining in the first. The general style of play was slow and methodical for both teams.

In the first quarter, Central only took one shot (a goal) and Long Island only took six shots (with only the two goals hitting the cage). Overall both teams were cautious; both recognizing that any mistake would be capitalized on by their opponents. The second Long Island goal occurred with 0:28 remaining in the first quarter. On a restart, Michael Chapman started at about GLE outside the box on goalies right. He then came straight in along GLE and beat his defenseman for the goal. Island was looking at a 2-0 start with time running out in the first quarter. Central, as if feeling that they could not allow Long Island the buffer of a two goal lead, immediately struck back. At 0:04 Mike Poppleton scored with a straight drive towards to goal. Long Island led the first quarter 2-1.

LI - CentralThe second quarter found Central down by 1, but that did not last long. 1:02 into the quarter John Greeley drove down the left side of the goal and threw a cross-crease pass to Casey Lasda for the goal. Central had tied the game at 2-2, but they were not done. With 6:26 remaining another cross-crease pass was scored as Tom Grimm found Matt Pratt for the goal and the lead. As if to put them back in their place, Long Island's Matt Froccaro won the ensuing face-off and took the ball down himself and put it into the back of the net only 0:09 later to keep the game tied.

Long Island scored one more goal before the half ended. Thomas Schreiber scored after a pick up top opened him up. Froccaro won every face-off in the second quarter and finished the game 9/14 at the draw. Long Island took a one goal lead into the third quarter.

Central came out of halftime and won the third quarter 2-1 to retie the score. Matt Taylor and Torin Varn hooked up on a fast-break and Varn put the goal away. The score was tied at 4-4. The next Long Island goal was scored at 2:51 as Michael McCormack had a take and moved the ball up to the offense. After being challenged by a defenseman, McCormack passed the ball to Nicky Galasso, however he kept moving towards the goal and Galasso hit him back on the crease for the goal.

Long Island took their third lead of the game at 5-4. Once again, Central came back when at 1:23 they tied the game again at 5-5. Varn and Taylor hooked up again as Taylor passed the ball to Varn on the crease who turned into the shot for the goal. The score ended 5-5 after three quarters.

About half way through the final quarter, the Long Island coaches called out the midfielders and subbed in English. English, saying that enough was enough, did what he does best and lined up right in the middle of the cage and just put the ball in the goal.

LI - CentralLong Island took the 6-5 lead at 5:19. With 2:17 remaining Long Island, in between stalling and working the ball around, find an opening on the outside and Galasso scored, with a feed from Murphy. Long Island was up by two with just over two minutes left. With 1:20 remaining Central cut the lead to one goal when Jake Silberlicht hit Poppleton on the crease who turned and shot the ball. Central needed the ball and they got it on technical face-off win. However they could not cash in on it. They lost the ball and Long Island started their stall. With 0:27 remaining, Central received a flag for a push followed by a another penalty for a trip at 0:11 during their efforts to steal the ball.

The game was back and forth for entire game, and even as the end approached it was difficult to determine which team was going to come out on top. Both teams showed their desire to win and both teams had players who can score when their team needs a goal.

In the cage, both teams split goalies at the half. However, due to the nature of this game (patiently waiting for the shot) the goalies did not have their best days. Long Island's Ryan Zaremba played the first half with 1s/3ga and Rob Bellairs finished the game with 4s/3ga (57%). For Central, Steve Mahle started the game and had 3s/4ga and Alex Fiore played the second half with no saves and three goals against.

Central took 21 shots to Long Island's 20, with 11 on for Central and 10 on for Long Island. Long Island won the ground ball battle 30-25, as well as having more takes (10-6).

Central`s drive to win the gold in 2008, has a number of obstacles, but it is not out of the picture yet. Tomorrow's game against Hudson Valley will decide who moves on to face Long Island in Gold Medal game and who will face in the Bronze Medal game. See the front page article for a more thorough evaluation of the situation.

Scoring for Long Island were English (2g), Galasso (1g-1a), Chapman (1g), Froccaro (!g), McCormack (1g), Schreiber (1g), Murphy (1a).

Scoring for Central were Poppleton (2g), Varn (2g), Taylor (2a), Pratt (1g), Lasda (1g) and Silberlicht (1a).