KINGSTON, N.Y.— Lakeland/Panas started off slow in its Class A regional title game against Section 9 champion Valley Central at Dietz Stadium in Kingston.
Once they got going, however, the Rebels did not stop in their June 4 contest.
After trailing 2-0, Lakeland/Panas scored six of the next seven goals to go up 6-3 at halftime on its way to a 13-7 boys lacrosse victory.
“We started playing loose,” said Rebels’ senior face-off guru Nick Vazquez, who was recently named All-American. “We were turning the ball over too much and not picking up groundballs on the defensive end. We picked it up from the second quarter on.”
The win was extra sweet as it gave the Rebels their first regional title and trip to the state final four since 2010.
“It’s awesome,” Vazquez said. “Kevin Prunty, Joe Cortese and I came close our sophomore year but this year we made sure we got it.”
Prunty (3G, 2A), Sean Makar (4G), Cortese (1G, 3A), Griffin Shiland (1G, 2A), JoJo Janavey (2G), Drew Thompson (2G), Kyle Castner (1A), Kevin Dyckman (11 saves) and J.P. Walsh (1 save) all helped the Rebels secure that elusive regional crown.
Lakeland/Panas (19-2) earned its trip to the regional final with a thrilling 8-7 win against Section 2 champ Shenendehowa on June 1 at Yorktown High School in the regional semifinals.
“It feels great to move on with this team,” Janavey said. “We worked so hard and this is a testament to how good we are.”
Janavey led the Rebels to the win against the Albany-area school with five goals.
“Coaches told us all week how to shoot on this great goalie,” Janavey said. “I was able to put the ball in some good spots and get it to go past him.”
Highlighting the Rebels’ effort against the Plainsmen was Prunty, a senior captain, recording his 200th career point on a goal with 4:22 remaining in the third quarter, off an assist from Thompson, which gave Lakeland/Panas a 6-5 lead on an extra-man opportunity.
“It felt great and felt even better getting it from one of my teammates,” said Prunty, who also tallied a first-half assist. “Getting the W was even sweeter.”
Janavey’s final goal gave the Rebels an 8-6 lead with 4:22 left in the final quarter as he emerged from a scramble in front of the net with the ball and put it in.
“I just found the ball, it was off a rebound and I was just able to catch and shoot,” Janavey said.
The Plainsmen sliced the Rebels’ lead to 8-7 with 2:53 left in the game. They then had possession with 41 seconds remaining in the contest after they called timeout with a chance to tie and send it into overtime but Lakeland/Panas’ defense held strong to preserve the victory.
“In the second half we did a really good job of buttoning up defensively,” Lakeland/Panas coach Jim Lindsay said. “So it was really in that timeout look just make sure we had the matchups, make sure if the kids that we had been keying on get the ball that we can go and we can get it out of their sticks and make them take low percentage shots and that’s exactly what we did.”
Makar (2G, 3A) and Dyckman (4 saves) also got into the box score in front of a boisterous crowd.
“I couldn’t ask anything more from my friends, my family, all of our families for coming out here at 8 o’clock at night and just giving us some great fan support,” Prunty said.
The Rebels’ state Class A semifinal was scheduled for 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 8 at Hofstra University against Long-Island squad Ward Melville.