MAHOPAC, N.Y.— There aren’t too many weapons in Section 1 like Lakeland/Panas’ Griffin Shiland. The senior long-stick midfielder has the potential to lock down the opposing team’s top midfielder and create transition offense going the other way.
“It’s a nice luxury,” Rebels coach Jim Lindsay said. “(Shiland) also knows that if you bring the ball over and get a shot, it better go in the goal. Otherwise, you are going back the other way. It’s a catch-22, but he knows that he’s got the green light.”
Shiland’s unique skill-set was on full display in Lakeland/Panas’ 11-4 win over host Mahopac on Saturday afternoon. He tallied two goals and one assist, flashing lightning speed in transition and an uncanny ability to wield the pole in traffic.
“(Shiland) is fun to play with because he’s always in the right spot,” fellow defenseman Matt Kness said. “He can play defense and then right away he can play offense. He can go up the field, run everywhere and is in great shape. He’s a great player.”
Shiland turned it on after the Rebels were called for an illegal stick with 8:05 remaining in the first half, resulting in a three-minute unreleasable penalty. All he did was bury a pair of shorthanded goals, deflating Mahopac’s spirit while boosting Lakeland/Panas’ lead to 6-1 at the break.
“We had to rally the troops,” Shiland said. “We were man-down and locked in so we had to prevail. Coach teaches us that when we are down to keep our heads up and do our thing. That’s what we did. We were down a man but had to keep our heads up and go for it.”
The Rebels have become synonymous with versatile, offensive-minded long-stick middies. Andrew Sofroniou filled the role prior to Shiland and was a similarly dangerous two-way presence.
“We kind of groom these guys going forward,” Lindsay said. “We want to play and get up and down the field. That’s a big part of what we do. We like to have a kid in the middle of the field who can handle the ball. (Shiland) knows what to do—he’s been doing that for three years now.”
Lakeland/Panas, which led 3-1 after the opening quarter, continued its domination as the second half got underway. The Rebels outscored the Indians 4-1 in the third quarter and led 10-2 heading into the fourth.
Joe Janavey and Matt Hodges paced Lakeland/Panas’ offense with three goals apiece. Sean Makar (1G, 3A), Tim Fallo (3A), Stephen Magarelli (2G) and Drew Thompson (1G) rounded out the offensive production. Goalie Kevin Dyckman spearheaded a strong defensive effort with eight saves. The four goals scored matched a season-low for Mahopac (2-5), which dropped its fourth-straight game.
“That’s what our main goal is every game—hold the other team under five,” Kness said. “We really worked hard this week in practice, mixed up some things and it worked. Everyone did what they were supposed to do.”
Andrew Evans and George Weiss paced the Indians with two goals apiece. Evans also excelled at the dot, winning 13 of 18 faceoffs. Goalie Mike Argila continued a breakout sophomore campaign with 15 saves.
Lakeland/Panas, which improved to 7-0 on the year, could very well be undefeated heading into the Murphy Cup against rival Yorktown on May 5. The Rebels haven’t bested the Huskers in the annual showdown since 2010.
“The Murphy Cup is definitely one that we star on our schedule,” Shiland said. “It’s a really exciting game, but we still have a bunch more big tests going into that game, so those will be our focus heading into the Murphy Cup.”
For Kness, it’s a bit more personal.
“All I know is that my dad played at Yorktown and I want to get a Murphy Cup under my belt just to say that we beat you guys,” Kness said. “I haven’t beat Yorktown in any sports that I’ve played, including hockey. I think this year—if we keep working hard—we can give them a run.”
With a player like Shiland leading the charge, the Rebels have the right to dream big.