HEMPSTEAD, N.Y.— Lakeland/Panas’ boys lacrosse squad traveled to Hofstra University in Nassau County to play in its first state Class A semifinal in six years when it took on Section 11’s Ward Melville on June 8.
The Rebels hung in there with the Long-Island power for awhile but simply could not match its explosiveness and fell to the Patriots 16-6, ending their otherwise spectacular season.
Lakeland/Panas jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a goal by Drew Thompson before Ward Melville scored four in a row to go up 4-1.
Joe Cortese (1G, 3A), with an assist from Kyle Castner, scored, and then Kevin Prunty tallied a goal with five seconds left in the opening quarter, pulling the Rebels to within one at 4-3.
“Joe Cortese scored just before and then dished a nice feed to me to score and that helped us get some momentum,” Prunty said.
Lakeland/Panas and Ward Melville exchanged goals in the second quarter, with Thompson scoring from Sean Makar (2G, 1A) to keep the Rebels at just a one-goal deficit, 5-4, with 4:07 left before halftime.
“We were man up and getting really good looks but weren’t getting them on the cage,” Makar said. “As the time was running out I was able to push behind the cage and find Drew Thompson who was cutting from up top. It felt good being in the game and really boosted the team’s confidence.”
Ward Melville answered with three goals to go up 8-4 before Makar cut the Patriots’ lead to three when he registered a score with 8:09 left in the third quarter.
“Ward Melville went from man to zone and we practiced offense against the zone all week,” Makar said. “We knew exactly what we had to do and Joe Cortese found me open to get a shot off. It really brought the life back into us and on the sidelines.”
Unfortunately for the Rebels, Ward Melville dominated after that, ending the game on an 8-1 run.
Possession was the key to the Patriots’ run, according to Prunty.
“They had the ball most of the third quarter and it was hard to answer the run without the ball,” Prunty said.
Despite the loss, it was a great season for a Rebels’ squad that saw them finish 19-3, win their second sectional title in three years and ninth in school history along with their first regional championship since 2010.
“We worked harder in the offseason than anyone and wanted to prove to everyone that we were a section championship team,” Prunty said.
Prunty, a senior who will play with his brother Brian next season at Siena College, said he will miss playing for coach Jim Lindsay.
“He taught me everything about lacrosse, pushed me to be the best player I can be and also taught us how to be men in the real world,” Prunty said. “This season was the most memorable season of my career and couldn’t ask for anything for more to end my senior year in black and gold.”
Makar, a junior, appreciated very much being on this Rebel squad.
“It meant a lot being on a team that special,” Makar said. “Not many people thought we would get there and getting the chance to play in that game was awesome and meant a lot. We are going to have to continue the momentum from this year into next year and work even harder. The rising seniors will have to take leadership roles and push the whole team from summer all the way to the spring.”
Kevin Dyckman got into the box score for the Rebels with 10 saves.