Weekly Feature



2018-06-07 / Sports

East boys lax tops Eden for first sectional title

Trojans headed for state semifinals after beating Geneva in Class C regional
by JASON NADOLINSKI
Reporter


Nathan Walker fires what would be the game-winning shot under duress as West Seneca East’s boys lacrosse team roared back with a second half surge to defeat Geneva, 8-6, in Saturday’s Class C Far West Regional at All-High Stadium. 
Photo by Dan NesselbushPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Nathan Walker fires what would be the game-winning shot under duress as West Seneca East’s boys lacrosse team roared back with a second half surge to defeat Geneva, 8-6, in Saturday’s Class C Far West Regional at All-High Stadium. Photo by Dan NesselbushPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com With a large contingent of players coming back and remembering the disappointment of falling short from last year’s squad that reached the Section VI Class C title game, West Seneca East boys lacrosse coach Jim Maisano began the 2018 campaign full of optimism where his team’s chances at producing a better outcome this spring was concerned.

That optimism was validated May 30 at Williamsville North, as East avenged an earlier loss to Eden with a monster surge to start the second half that ultimately propelled the Trojans to an 11-10 victory over the Raiders. It is the team’s first sectional title in program history.

“The kids went absolutely bonkers when the final horn sounded,” Maisano said. “It was such a good game, full of emotion. The biggest reward, for me, was just looking in the kids’ eyes. I’ve taught a lot of these kids since they were in kindergarten, and a lot more have been playing in our summer program since fifth or sixth grade. I thought we had the talent to win it for sure this year, but at other points in the year I didn’t know what was going to be possible. But we got healthy and peaked at the right time.”


West Seneca East’s Shaun Dolac, at left in the foreground, scrambles to beat Eden’s Louis DeCarolis to the loose ball during the Trojans’ 11-10 victory in the Section VI Class C final May 30 at Williamsville North. Dolac was one of two East players to finish the game with four goals to help lead the Trojans to their first sectional title in program history. 
Photo by Kathleen KramerPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com West Seneca East’s Shaun Dolac, at left in the foreground, scrambles to beat Eden’s Louis DeCarolis to the loose ball during the Trojans’ 11-10 victory in the Section VI Class C final May 30 at Williamsville North. Dolac was one of two East players to finish the game with four goals to help lead the Trojans to their first sectional title in program history. Photo by Kathleen KramerPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com East found itself needing to rally in the second half after falling behind by a 6-3 count in the first quarter. The Trojans actually notched the first goal of the game but then fell into a bit of a lull, Maisano said, which led to some “boneheaded mistakes” on defense that turned into self doubt. But East’s leaders “stepped up and reminded everyone we weren’t out of it,” Maisano said, and began their rally by scoring a pair of goals in the second quarter to pull within one at the half.

East went on to score six more unanswered goals in the third quarter to take an 11-6 lead at the end of the frame, but then had to hold on as the Raiders began winning faceoffs with consistency in the fourth quarter, which led to goals that made things much closer than the Trojans would have liked. Eden scored its final goal of the game with 1:43 to play in regulation, but East followed up by winning its first faceoff of the quarter and killing off the clock the rest of the frame.

“The fourth quarter definitely got a little hairy,” Maisano said. “We didn’t have the ball much in the fourth quarter because they started winning more faceoffs, and they got some good bounces, as well as a man-up goal, and slowly chipped away at us. But, we felt we weren’t out of it so long as we could do this, that and the other thing better.”

Eden, who decided to take Danny Flynn out of the outcome, had no real answer because of that strategy for either Shaun Dolac or Colin Schmatz, each of whom scored four goals. Nate Walker, Drew Werner (4 assists) and Sean Karnath rounded out the scoring for East, with Karnath scoring what would be the game-winning goal after bringing the ball all the way up the field in transition and walking in for his shot.

Noah Hoot also had an assist, while Damond Flynn turned aside eight of the shots he faced for the game after coming into the contest with about four minutes to play in the second quarter.

“Bringing Damond in seemed to give us the spark we needed in the end,” Maisano said. “He played really well down the stretch for us.”

East, playing in the Far West Regional round for the first time, used another second-half rally in Saturday’s

Far West Regional at Bennett High School’s All-High Stadium to secure an 8-6 win over Geneva. Geneva built up a 6-2 lead with 55 seconds to play in the third quarter, but Danny Flynn turned the momentum in East’s favor with a precise shot to the top corner with 17 seconds to play to cut Geneva’s advantage to 6-3 heading into the fourth quarter.

Dolac took over for Flynn, who scored the game’s first three goals, in the fourth quarter. With Josh Maloney and Jared Maurino winning faceoffs, Dolac “took it upon himself to be more physical against what was one of the best zone defenses I’ve ever seen,” Maisano said.

Drawing players to him, Dolac still managed to score two quick goals at the 11:05 and 10:03 marks of the fourth quarter before netting the tying tally with 2:40 to play in regulation.

Dolac then drove toward the goal once again with just under a minute to play in the contest, and with Geneva’s entire defense collapsing on him, he got the ball to Walker for what would be the game-winning goal. Geneva won the ensuing faceoff and had a shot at getting the equalizer, but the Trojans gained possession of the ball with enough time to need a timeout to figure out how to kill the clock. Dolac was triple teamed behind Geneva’s net – which was empty after it pulled its goalie for an extra attacker – upon the resumption of play, and he was still able to beat Geneva’s extra attention to secure the final goal of the contest.

“The Geneva game wound up being the Shaun Dolac show,” Maisano said. “I really didn’t know what to expect going into the game because our practices leading up to it were somewhat lackluster, and we had been up and down all year. We just don’t get as far as we’ve got without the leadership we’ve received from guys like Shaun, Danny and Drew. Shaun’s second goal – you could tell as they were adding up that Geneva was getting scared of him – came from his stomach after he was knocked to the ground.”

Danny Flynn also had an assist for the game, while Werner (2 assists), Schmatz and Tyler Courtney each had assists as well. Dolac finished with four goals, while Damond Flynn turned aside 11 of the shots he faced in net.

“We decided to ride the hot goalie, and he stayed hot,” Maisano said. “I think my long poles owe him a pizza or something at some point because they left Geneva guys out there all alone. Fortunately for us, he bailed us out a bunch of times during the game when we made some really awful mistakes on defense.”

East (12-8 overall) returned to action Wednesday by facing Section III’s Westhill in a state semifinal at St. John Fisher College, but information about that contest was not available at press time. The winner of that game will return to St. John Fisher Saturday to play the winner of the other semifinal between Section I’s Pelham Memorial and Section XI’s Islip.

“We’ve got some film on Westhill, so we’ll check it out ahead of Wednesday and see where we can hurt them the most, as well as where we have to defend against them,” Maisano said. “The guys are excited that we’re one win away from the state final, so hopefully we all come to play again on Wednesday. I think our best effort will certainly give us a chance to be in the game and have a shot at getting to the state finals.

“We’ve never been here before, but the guys don’t care who we’re playing,” Maisano continued. “They don’t care about the other teams’ history; they’re just here to make saves, play defense, score goals and win faceoffs. There’s no fear factor at all. They’re just here to play lacrosse.”

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

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