SHRUB OAK, N.Y.— The numbers didn’t seem real—almost videogame-like.
Heading into Saturday’s marquee matchup against Iona Prep, Lakeland/Panas’ boys lacrosse team was averaging a robust 15 goals per game en route to a perfect 3-0 start.
“We are just a great group playing together,” junior attackman Joe Janavey said. “Once we get in transition, we are a hard team to stop. In six-on-six offense, we take chances and look to find the open man.”
The visiting Gaels were just the latest team to feel the red-hot Rebels’ wrath. Lakeland/Panas (4-0) outscored Iona Prep 7-4 in the second half to secure a statement-making 15-12 victory.
Lakeland/Panas’ starting attack unit—consisting of Janavey (3G, 2A), Tim Fallo (4G, 1A) and Sean Makar (3G)—combined for 10 goals, torching an overly aggressive Iona Prep defense.
“Our attackmen are very, very skilled and good,” Rebels coach Jim Lindsay said. “Whenever their hands are free, they can play with the ball and finish.”
Iona Prep was done in by 10 penalties, which Lakeland/Panas converted into six extra-man goals.
“We were able to make them pay,” Makar said. “(Iona Prep) put a man in the box, put themselves in that situation and we put them away.”
Lindsay noted that his team’s ability to finish on the man-up was the ultimate difference between winning and losing.
“Offensively, we have been doing a very nice job,” Lindsay said. “In games like this, when it’s going to be tight and physical, you have to be able to capitalize if you want to win.”
Janavey, who took a half-dozen crunching hits behind the play, shook off the physical nature of the game.
“If (the other team) comes out physical, you have to be ready to match that intensity,” Janavey said. “We battle every day in practice so we were ready for it.”
Matt Hodges (2G), Drew Thompson (1G, 1A), Griffin Shiland (1G) and Steve Magarelli (1G) rounded out the offensive production for the Rebels, who trailed 5-4 after a back-and-forth opening quarter. The two teams entered halftime even at 8-8, forcing Lindsay’s defensive unit to make some adjustments.
Lakeland/Panas limited the Gaels to just four second-half goals, leaning heavily on senior goalie Kevin Dyckman (11 saves) and Shiland, a rangy long-stick midfielder/defenseman.
“(Iona Prep) has three or four kids who dodge hard, move the ball well and I thought we responded in the second half,” Lindsay said.
Hodges gave Lakeland/Panas the lead for good, burying a shot on the doorstep to snap a 9-9 stalemate with 5:30 left in the third quarter. Fallo pinned a corner with a laser to extend the lead to 11-9 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Rebels outscored Iona Prep 4-3 over the final 12 minutes of regulation, cashing in on a trio of extra-man chances.
While the season is still young, Lakeland/Panas looks well-positioned to defend its Section 1 Class A title.
“The kids are really working hard and they put in a lot of work,” said Lindsay, whose team cruised past Hendrick Hudson 14-2 on April 4. “It’s tough to come off of the team we had last year and improve off of that and not take a backseat a little bit and relax. They have responded and done a nice job.”
For the players, it’s all about carrying the torch into May.
“Coming off of last year—which was a big year—we are just trying to keep it going,” Makar said. “We are going to keep competing and working our best.”
Lakeland/Panas will host Mamaroneck today at 1 p.m. in a rematch of last year’s Class A title game, which the Rebels won, 11-10, in thrilling fashion. Another stiff test awaits on Saturday, April 15, at noon against New York State Class C finalist Penn Yan.
“Our goal is to improve every day,” Lindsay said. “This is a heck of a week for us. There are no breaks here. To steal a Bill Belichick line, ‘We just focus on the process and getting better every day without looking ahead down the road.’”