SOMERS, N.Y.— To say the least, Somers’ boys lacrosse team didn’t have a cupcake schedule to start off the 2017 season.
Yorktown. John Jay-Cross River. Rye. Greenwich.
“We loved having the first five games front-loaded with all those great teams in the section and even out of section,” senior Andrew Lowman said. “Having all of those games early will help us figure out all our mistakes going into May.”
The losses started to pile up and Somers was in search of restoring its confidence with a big win.
Somers found what it was looking for in the form of a 6-5 victory over visiting Mahopac on Tuesday, April 11.
“We had a tough stretch to start the season,” junior goaltender Tyler Carr said. “I think we should have got a couple wins. Today was definitely special to get a win and get us going.”
Somers (3-4) wasn’t surprised it was a low scoring, defensive slugfest. The Tuskers defeated the Indians 8-7 last season.
“It was a wild one,” said Lowman, who also scored the game winner in last year’s win over Mahopac.
The Tuskers were clinging to a 4-3 lead after three quarters. Lowman (2G, 1A) fought his way through a crowd and finished to give Somers a two-goal edge with 8:48 to go.
The senior captain then set up Vincent Cartelli for a goal with 5:57 left, leading to an Indian timeout.
“The kid was ball watching and I came down and V was wide open for an easy goal,” Lowman said.
Mahopac came out of timeout with vigor as Ryan Dugan snuck in backside and scored to cut Somers’ lead to 6-4 with 5:26 left. Dugan scored again 34 seconds later to make things very interesting as the Tuskers led by just a goal.
Somers’ defense clamped down in the final minutes. Carr made two huge point-blank saves with two minutes left on the clock.
“Mahopac has some great shooters,” Carr said. “On those two specifically, I just watched the ball into the stick and it’s basically just reaction.”
The Tuskers also picked up some crucial groundballs as Mahopac had its fair share of chances to tie the game. Senior Jake Cordes, a captain, scooped one up with a minute remaining before taking a stick to the groin, which led to him being helped off the field and was followed by a Tusker timeout.
“I’m definitely very proud of the defense,” Somers coach Vin DeGregorio said. “They’ve been working really hard at getting better and I think it shows. We still have a long way to go and Mahopac’s a good team. It was nice to see us buckle down after we made some errors. I think we matured a little bit today on the defensive end.”
Cordes and fellow senior captain Evan Kieltyka were crucial defensively as Cordes collected seven groundballs and Kieltyka gathered six. Kieltyka also locked down Mahopac star Andrew Evans, holding him to one goal and one assist.
“Evan’s one of our best defenders,” said Carr, who made 15 saves. “He’s one of the best in the section and always comes to the rescue when we need help as does the rest of our defensive unit.”
DeGregorio said that Kieltyka is leading the team in groundballs.
“He’s been doing it all season long,” DeGregorio said. “He’s really in every play that happens and we’re really lucky to have him and Jake on the defense together.”
It was just 2-2 at halftime in what was a sloppy first half. The Tuskers knew they had to make some adjustments and come out fast to pull out the win.
“At halftime we just talked about how we needed to really run our offense,” Lowman said. “We needed to get some looks from the outside and run a lot of motion. We had to play our game.”
Cartelli had two goals and two assists in the win. Connor Gill added a goal and an assist, while Jack Kessler fired one goal in the back of the net.
Somers defeated visiting Arlington 11-5 on April 13 behind four goals from Lowman.
Joey Clement notched three goals while Cartelli had two goals and two assists. Carr made 10 of his 14 saves in the second half.
Somers traveled to Pleasantville on April 18 and hosts Stepinac at 1 p.m. on April 22.
“It was definitely important, but they know what we’ve been up against,” DeGregorio said of the win over Mahopac, which ended a three-game losing streak. “We really want to just work on our weaknesses, so going into May we can be the best Somers team possible.”