Weekly Feature



2014-04-03 / Sports

East boys lacrosse just misses winning opener

JASON NADOLINSKI
Sports Reporter


Matt Mazza, right, works his way past an Amherst defender during West Seneca East’s 6-5 loss to the Tigers Saturday. Mazza scored four of the Trojans’ five goals on the day, displaying an offensive touch that coach Jim Maisano hopes Mazza maintains throughout the season. 
Photo by Jake FrenchPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Matt Mazza, right, works his way past an Amherst defender during West Seneca East’s 6-5 loss to the Tigers Saturday. Mazza scored four of the Trojans’ five goals on the day, displaying an offensive touch that coach Jim Maisano hopes Mazza maintains throughout the season. Photo by Jake FrenchPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com West Seneca East’s boys lacrosse team nearly made the most of one of the rare instances to be outdoors this spring when it traveled to Amherst Saturday — but the third time wasn’t the charm as the Trojans, who had their first two games cancelled because of the unplayable conditions, lost to the Tigers in heartbreaking fashion, 6-5.

Neither team was able to get much separation throughout the contest, with Amherst taking the biggest lead when it scored three unanswered goals in the second half to turn East’s 4-3 halftime lead into a 6-4 deficit. Junior attacker Matt Mazza, a second-year varsity starter who scored 35 goals last season, picked up the final of his four goals on the day with 2:30 to play in regulation to pull East back within a goal, but that was as close as the Trojans would get.

“Being our first game of the year, we had some mental mistakes and some penalties that hurt us, coach Jim Maisano said. “We showed how young we are. We had some composure issues in the fourth quarter, but fortunately our man-down unit went 6 for 6 killing penalties. That just limited our opportunities with the ball, though.”

“We had four or five opportunities to get some goals in the first half, but we just missed the net. We didn’t execute our great offensive looks with enough consistency. (Junior co-captain Tyler) Skretny and (senior Garrett) Rehner were both extremely solid in the defensive end of the field.”

Junior attacker Matt Kumro scored East’s other goal, while senior goalie Parker Phillips — a three-year varsity starter who recently signed a Division II scholarship to Roberts Wesleyan College — turned aside 10 of the shots that he faced on the day.

Though a win certainly would’ve made things even better, East’s season debut was a solid effort that provided some reassurance that things have the potential to go well despite a few hiccups here and there. Rehner’s play in particular was a sight for sore eyes after he missed virtually all of last year with a torn ACL; Maisano said having him back in the lineup this year “is like having an all-star come back, but without the accolades” since he didn’t have a season in which to achieve them.

Skretny, who was the only sophomore on the All-WNY First Team last year, also showed his value in the defensive third. Skretny, whom Maisano without hesitation calls “one of the best defenders in Western New York,” recently committed to Hobart.

“We’ve got a ton of talent in the defensive end, and having 2009 alum and former All-American Ethan Murphy on our coaching staff now to complement that will be huge for us,” Maisano said. “Our defense and our goalie will keep us in a lot of games, especially as our young midfield grows into the game a bit more.”

Part of the reason that East’s midfield is as young as it is this season is because of senior co-captain Quinn Miller’s shift from the middle of the field to the attack. Miller, a three-year varsity player, was a Second Team Class B all-star midfielder last spring.

Senior midfielder Travis Hicks, meanwhile, is in a similar situation to Rehner; Hicks broke his wrist three games into the season last year, so he also missed most of the season last spring — and is champing at the bit to cap his high school career on a high note. Kumro is being eyed to help fill some of the scoring gap caused by the graduation of John Haun, who had scored 105 goals over the course of the past two seasons.

Sophomore midfielders Johnny Dolac and Jalexis Santiago also add to the Trojans’ youthful appearance in the midfield, but they should be able to use their experience playing for the varsity squad during the playoffs last year to help bring some depth to the middle of the field.

“We’re very athletic,”

Maisano said. “Once we can get on the field with some consistency and practice a bit, we’ll certainly improve as we continue to grow together as a team. The kids are all hard workers too. Right now we’re just a little overaggressive, which is leading to the penalties. You can’t coach and can’t create hard working, blue-collar type kids — you either have those kinds of kids or you don’t. We’ve just got to figure out how to focus their aggressive nature in a positive way.”

East, which went 7-10 overall last season, was supposed to return to action Wednesday against Lake Shore, but that game was moved to Thursday, April 10, because of current field conditions.

If the situation improves, the Trojans will close out their week by traveling to Williamsville South Friday before hosting St. Francis Saturday. More realistically, East will resume play Wednesday at Hamburg, since the Bulldogs have a turf field.

“There are a ton of new rules in lacrosse this year, one of the biggest of which is that they eliminated all substitution horns, so all substitutions are on the fly,” Maisano said. “It’s very difficult to get into a routine without practicing on the field. Once we get some more games under our belt, I think we’ll have a smoother transition so that we won’t be so chaotic out there. Everyone’s dealing with it, but at the same time until we get on the field, it’s just really tough to practice — especially the new aspects to the game.”

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

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