2010 Empire State Games Wrap up

- After a one year absence, the Empire State Games were back and Buffalo, where they had not hosted the games since 2003 put on a great show, starting with opening ceremonies with Third Eye Blind and terrific fireworks and ending with the not so unusual crowning of Long Island as Lacrosse Champs. esg-BuffaloThe Central Region took the Silver medals and Western earned the bronze in 2010.


The Winners:
This was the thirty-second edition of the Empire State Games, the oldest and largest of the "State Games" in the country. Men's lacrosse was introduced in 1984, with the Central Region winning the gold, Long Island the silver and Western the bronze. In the twenty-six years, Long Island has won sixteen times, Central seven , Hudson Valley twice and Western once, so Long Island winning was not total unexpected, but before and during the tournaments there were some who felt the Island might not make it five in a row.


Before the Games:
The ESG Lacrosse Tournaments have, in the past, been a place for the best of the scholastic players to play together and against each other and to be seen by fan and college coaches. Ten years ago, the ESG were one of the few and best opportunities to showcase rising talent, but with national tournaments, premiere club teams and "super Camps", the Empires were not the venue selected by numerous top players throughout the State. Add to this, the fact that verbal commitments are now being made by sophomores which means that the number of "available players" for the college coaches to find has been severely reduced. [See Coach Wilson's Blog.] That being said, there were exciting and top shelf players in this year's tournament and many players had noteworthy performances. College coaches were in attendance, although not in large numbers. As one college coach said, "I'm still trying to make up my mind on one, and I'm hoping to find someone that has been missed."

esg-BuffaloGiven the alternative opportunities, most teams allowed players to fit in more than one programs. Western and Central, for example, had a good number of boys playing in the Nike and Armour All tournaments. Long Island, however, told their players that they had to choose, and there would be only "Team Long Island" for their players. Although some Long Island top players chose not to try out for the ESG team, more than seven hundred did and from those numbers came their top fifty and then their top thirty, who played twelve pre-tournament games, including three out-of-state tournaments. They won all twelve pre-tournament games.

LONG ISLAND brought eighteen seniors and two juniors to the games and all but three of the seniors have made verbal commitments to college teams. The juniors, Jake Froccaro (Port Washington) an offensive player on the Inside Lacrosse Sophomore Watch list and James Pannell (Smithtown West) and attackman who was also on the Watch List both have older brothers who are college stars (Jeff Froccaro at Princeton and Rob Pannell at Cornell). The team was nearly split between Section XI and Section VIII players. (For the rest of the team, see "The Teams 2010".)

CENTRAL brought twenty rising seniors to the games this year. The team featured four players from the Class B NYS champions from Jamesville-DeWitt. There were three from Carthage and two from West Genesee. The majority of players came from Section III, with four very talented players from Section IV.

The attack, consisting of Dylan Donahue (West Genesee), Nick Piroli (Carthage/Brown), Kevin Rice (Skaneateles/Cornell) and Ari Waffle (Fayetteville-Manlius/Jacksonville) combines for an amazing 208g-134a (342 pts) in their junior scholastic season. (For the rest of the team, see "The Teams 2010".)

esg-BuffaloWESTERN came into the tournament with high hopes and one of its strongest group of players. Defenseman Eric Chadderdon (Hamburg/Ohio State) was a USLacrosse All American as a junior and an ESPN RISE Warrior top 40 player. The University of North Carolina had three of its eleven recruits on the Western Team. McQuaid Jesuit defenseman, Jake Bailey, Fairport midfielder, Drew Hays and Bishop Timon defenseman Brian Sullivan have all made verbal commitments to play for Joe Breschi. Most of the players came from Section V (13 players), but they were supplemented with a talented group of players from Section VI. (For the rest of the team, see "The Teams 2010".)

ADIRONDACK brought three rising juniors and seventeen seniors, seven of whom have made verbal commitments. Robert Wardwell, a USLacrosse All American goalie, has committed to Syracuse and already has four years as a starter at Shenendehowa. Hoping for an injury-free tournament, Wardwell was the only goalie Adirondack brought to the games.

There was some even distribution between four scholastic teams as Christian Brothers Academy and Shaker each sent three players and Niskayuna and Shenendehowa each sent four. Shen won the Section II championship this year and lost, in overtime, to Section I champ (Lakeland/Panas in the NYS quarter finals. (For the rest of the team, see "The Teams 2010".)

HUDSON VALLEY found most of their team at Rye (six players) and Somers (four players). Fox Lane goalie has committed to play at Ohio State and Warwick Valley goalie Mike Grace has committed to Assumption College (NE-10 - Division II). All but five of the players will be seniors in the fall. (For the rest of the team, see "The Teams 2010".)

NEW YORK CITY had the youngest team in the tournament with only seven rising seniors and so there is a potential to bring twelve back with experience next summer and three who could come back for two. Poly Prep sent six players, The Collegiate School, three and Choate sent two. Chris Fiore was selected a USLacrosse All American goalie as a sophomore last season came esg-Buffalofrom New Dorp where he recorded 483 saves in 16 games (83%). His brother, Mathew played on the 2007 and 2008 ESG teams. Offensive rising junior, Neil Hamamoto (Riverdale, 28g-41a) returned from the 2008 team. (For the rest of the team, see "The Teams 2010".) return


Offensive Performance:

Long Island won the gold medal with a record of 4-1, having defeated all the other regions except Central, where, on Friday, they lost in overtime. A Long Island medal round 7-6 win meant Central (4-2) took the Silver. Western (4-2) beat Adirondack (2-4) with a score of 13-7 for the bronze. Hudson Valley (1-4) and New York City (0-5) finished on Saturday.

Long Island and Central played twice and both games were won by one goal. In the first game, which Central Won 8-7 in an exciting overtime contest, Central took 32 shots to Long Island's 28, but both teams produced 18 shots on cage.

Brandon Gamblin, who led the tournament in goals, with 18, had a big day for Long Island in the gold medal game, scoring four goals, including LI's only two goals in the fourth quarter. Kyle Keenan led the tournament in assists (15) and points (21) and chalked up four assists in the gold medal game (feeding Gamblin three times). For Central, Kevin Rice led in goals (13) and points (19) while Dylan Donahue led in assists (7) and Riley Lasda led in ground ball production with eighteen.

Although the Long Island / Central games were each won and lost by a single goal, the offensive statistical data suggests Long Island deserved the goal medal, leading in each category except goals/game, which was won by Central by about a half a goal. Long Island had on average three assisted goals to Central's two, but The Island won the ground ball war, 29-19, six of which came from Face off man, Jake Froccaro who led the tournament with 31. (More on that later.)

In the second game (medal round), Long Island took ten more shots (43-33) which produced seven more on cage (23-16) and although Tyler White had a great day in the cage for Central (nearly 70%), Long Island took the win.

Western, offensively, was clearly the third placed team (4-2), placing third in goal production, accuracy and assisted goals and came in second in ground ball production. Zach Reed led Western in goals (9) while Jordan Frysinger led in assists (9) and points (15) and led Western in ground ball production (3rd in the tournament).

% Shots On Cage
Assisted Goals %
Ground Balls/Game

Hudson Valley lost to Adirondack on the first day by a single goal (7-6) and that loss eventually took them out of the medal round. Statistically their offense played better than the Adirondack region and they played closer games against Western, Central and Long Island. Rob Caffrey and Kieran Donohue led The Valley in goals (7 each) and Caffrey led in assist with eight and points with fifteen.esg-Buffalo

Tim Cox led the Adirondack scoring effort with 6g while Tim Coll led in assists (6) and points (10). Goalie Bob Wardwell led his team in ground balls with eighteen. For New York City, the scoring leader was Neil Hamamoto who scored six of the City's fourteen goals. Four different players had an assist and Hamamoto also led in ground ball production with twelve. return


Defensive Performance:

There were a large group of excellent goalies this year that often made the fans cheer with extraordinary saves. Long Island's Zach Oliveri had 62.5% for the statistical top spot. Central's Tyler White (Corning) came in right behind with 62.07% and six more saves. Long Island's other goalie, Tom Cordts had a 57.6% and Western's David Scarcello turned in a 55.6% while Bob Wardwell, Adirondack's only goalie, posted a 53.5%, playing 246 minutes and facing 116 shots on cage.

Wardwell's play pushed ADK into the third place for save percentage and Western, whose other goalie, Alex Govenettio, had sub 50% performances in his games, and dropped Western into 6th place. Govenettio played the entire opening game against Long Island and posted 8s/10ga. It is, however, unlikely that had Western changed goalies in the second half, playing Scarcello instead, that Western would have beaten Long Island. Even if Scarcello had posted a 75% second half, Long Island still most probably would have won by two goals. Oliveri had his best game in the tournament against Western making ten saves and allowing only four goals (71%).

esg-BuffaloOtherwise, the goalie stats demonstrate Long Island, slightly ahead of Central in all three indicators and the rest of the teams generally falling into the finishing order.

When looking for potential reasons for the Long island win against Central, Oliveri seems to be one, if not the key. He was the only LI goalie to play against Central. In the first game he made ten saves and allowed 8 goals (the last in OT) for a save percentage of 55.6%. In the second game he also made ten saves, but allowed only six goals and earned a 62.5% day. The Long Island defense, limiting those two extra shots on cage, and Oliveri's concentration, were certainly key factors, but not the only ones, in the gold medal win. For example, on the other end of the field, Central had a hard time slowing down LI midfielder, Brandon Gamblin, who had eight shots on the cage and scored on four of them.

When looking at defense, in general, one cannot ignore the number of shots that reach the goalie. Most often this statistic relates to the ability of the defense to limit high quality shots. Western limited their opponents to 71 shots on cage, with Long Island allowing ten more and the Central allowing 84. Once again the out of medal teams finish in order. Although all six teams had a reasonable number of take always, Long Island had nearly twice as many as The City. Western midfielder, Mike Messina (Aquinas/Syracuse) and Central defenseman, Gerry O`Brien (Seton Catholic) topped the take away chart with six each. Long Island defensemen Rob Enright (Massapequa/Johns Hopkins) and Jordan Stevens (Smithtown West/Cornell) had five each and the Western defenseman Jake Bailey (McQuaid/UNC), Eric Chadderdon (Hamburg/Ohio State) and Brian Sullivan (Bishop Timon/UNC) each had four.


Goals Against
Save Percentage
GA Average
Shots On *
SON Against Ave
Takes *
Riding %
Clearing %
* ADK and NYC played only 5 games everyone else played 6


Although riding is often dependent on the defensive skill of the attackman, working with midfielders, their defensive contribution can be significant, not only in broken clear goals but in psychological benefits as well. Breaking a clear for a goal or another offensive set can be demoralizing to both clearing defensemen and the goalie. Western, once again, showed skill in riding, taking to top honors with 39%. Zach Reed had three takes for Western and the entire attack had six. Long Island came in second in the category stopping about a third of their opponent's clears. The vast majority of their takes came from defenseman, some of whom stopped the clear at midfield. returnesg-Buffalo


Special Teams:

The face off draw added much excitement in the Long Island / Central games as Long Island's Jake Froccaro (62.8%) and Central's Tim Edwards (62.4%) led their teams and the face off stat board. Central also had a top face off man in Riley Lasda (61.4%). Hudson Valley looked to Ed Dedomenico (61.4%) and Western had Jordan Frysinger (79.2%).

Froccaro's performance was key in both games with Central. In the first game, after losing four out of his first five face offs, he dominated at the start of the second quarter, winning all six and the continuing his streak into the fourth, winning three more before he was injured and had to leave the game. Certainly a key factor in Central's win, was that Froccaro was not available for the overtime face off, which was won by Lasda and allowed the winning goal by Grimm.

After resting him in the New York City game, Froccaro was back for the gold medal game where took every face off, winning eight of seventeen. Edwards was terrific in the gold medal game, winning eight of thirteen against Froccaro.

Western used four different face off men and three won more than they lost. Jordan Frysinger finished the tournament winning nineteen of twenty-four.


MU Goals %
MD Hold %
FO Wins %


There were a relatively few penalties called in the game (75 over 17 games), but the conversion in man-up was generally poor over all. Hudson Valley scored on five of thirteen and Long Island scored on four of sixteen. Of note, however was the Central man-down unit who were unscored upon (10/10). returnesg-Buffalo



It was five in a row for Long Island and they were understandably pleased with the win, particularly after the photo-finish loss to Central two days earlier. Central played terrific lacrosse and the combination provided exciting games for the crowds at Canisius College. The stands were full for Friday's game.

Winning a medal is great, but Western certainly wanted, and expected more. It was clearly one of the strongest teams assembled in the Western Region. The loss to Long Island in the opening game certainly had an effect on the players who had every reason, pre-tournament, to hope for more. A lack of consistency hurt the Western team as they played some quarters really well, and others fell short.

After a number of years of improvement, this year's New York City team had a hard time. Their youth was noticeable, but they have the opportunity to bring back quite a few players who gained a great deal of experience.

The Canisius College stadium was beautiful and the staff at the site was warm and helpful. The facility is fairly new and the unusual integration of softball fields with the rectangular field maximizes the space in the inner city campus.

Thus ends the review of the 2010 Empire State Lacrosse games. It was, as usual, an exciting time for players, coaches and the fans and another success for the staff from the New York State Office of Parks and Recreation that puts on the largest such event in the country. return