SOMERS, N.Y. — Kennedy Catholic’s boys lacrosse team won its second New York State Catholic High School Athletic Association state title in the last four years last Thursday, and did it in dramatic fashion, upending two-time defending state champ Holy Trinity, 7-6, in a double overtime thriller.
It was these same Titans who beat Kennedy in the state final in each of the last two years, both times by one goal.
The Gaels appeared poised to win the game in regulation, leading 6-5 and killing clock late in the fourth, when visiting Holy Trinity stunned the home team by gaining possession and tying the game with 1:08 remaining on a goal from Tim Kiggins.
That set up Gaels junior attackman Jack Zona, who had the hot hand all game. Zona took a feed from senior captain Bryon Szpindor 30 seconds into the second four-minute, sudden-death overtime, and fired a low bullet that got past Titans keeper Joe Botto.
It was Zona’s fourth goal of the game—and the biggest of his career so far—to go with one assist. Senior captain Aidan Dooley scored twice and added an assist, and Brendan Sullivan had a goal and an assist. Keeper Sean Carroll came up big repeatedly, making 16 saves in net for the Gaels.
“It’s the best feeling in the world,” Dooley said moments after the win. “These guys beat us by one each of the last two years, so it was time to get over that hill, get the job done.
“We played unbelievable today. Scrappy, going for ground balls, pulling for one another… we did whatever it took to get the job done. We’ve been in a lot of close ones this year. I told the guys to keep our composure, keep running, keep getting loose balls. We were due to get one and Zona put it home.”
Zona said the Gaels were determined not to lose in this game for a third straight year.
“We were really driven for this win,” Zona said. “It’s been a really good ride for this team this year, and we had a lot of close losses. We were tired of losing to Holy Trinity these last two years by one, so we beat them the first time (during regular season), then got real amped up for this and just put it away.
“It feels really great to be state champs. They were going for the three-peat, so we feel pretty good about that. And I’ll be a senior next year, so I look forward to trying to do it again.”
Zona scored off a feed from Sullivan early in the third, and Sullivan scored, assisted by Szpindor, halfway through the period to give Kennedy a 6-3 lead.
Holy Trinity scored late in the third to make it 6-4, and the Gaels went into clock-killing mode in the fourth. But the Titans spoiled that plan, getting a transition goal with 3:10 remaining to give them life, then tying it up with just over a minute left.
Gaels coach Nick Savastano said he wasn’t too worried about OT because he knew Wyatt Rumpf could win the faceoff and gain possession.
“We told the kids in the huddle that we have Wyatt on the faceoff and he wins every faceoff, so we knew if we didn’t win in regulation that we’d get the ball back,” Savastano said. “Defensively, we shut their big guns down. My brother Vinny had a great package for them with some shutoffs, and we knew if we kept those guys down we’d be OK. Our defense was a key.
“This one is so sweet, especially to go double overtime with these guys. They’re well-coached, have great athletes, a good Long Island team... and I thought our kids really stepped up at the end. Our faceoff kid was amazing, and so was our goalie. Being state champs is something we talk about every year. Being in the Catholic League we know we’re gonna have a shot down the road, and the kids really stepped up. Great kids, great student athletes and we’re so proud of them.”
Kennedy co-coach Vin Savastano pointed to corrections the team made going into the game.
“This was just amazing,” he said. “We put together a really tough schedule this season, and took our lumps down the stretch—kind of got down on ourselves. But the blessing in disguise is that we recognized all our weaknesses, and we corrected everything going into the championship game.
“They gave heart and soul and played both sides of the field. Zona won it at the end, and everybody contributed today—an incredible accomplishment by these kids. We’re really proud of them.”