The thick first-half fog seemed to work to the Kennedy Cougars' advantage on Wednesday afternoon, as the Cougars outscored the New Hyde Park Gladiators 11-2 in the opening half en route to a 16-8 Conference B-I win.
The two teams went back and forth in the opening five minutes at Kennedy High School with two goals apiece before Kennedy's trio of attackmen – Andrew Brancato, Matthew Gavigan and Zac Shuldiner – went on a tear and helped the Cougars go on a 9-0 run to end the half.
Brancato scored two goals in the first quarter and two more in the second quarter. He finished with six in the game. Shuldiner added three goals and an assist in the first half and finished with a total of five goals and two assists. But it was Gavigan who was the playmaker, with five assists in the first half and eight on the day.
New Hyde Park came out firing in the second half and went on a 5-1 run in the first 5:30 to cut the lead to 12-7. In that span, the Gladiators saw three goals from Tim Brooks, one goal and two assists from Dan Justice and one goal from Alex Theodores. Theodores finished with two goals.
However, the Cougars grabbed one more goal from both Shuldiner and Brancato to end the quarter ahead 14-7. The duo added one more apiece in the fourth as Kennedy took the game, 16-8.
“This is our third home game and our first win at home," Kennedy head coach Craig Papach said. "The previous two games we had bad starts and then we ran out of time at the end, so the theme was to start the game when the game started and not let their team get any momentum going. We accomplished that and we came out on fire. We’re very pleased, as a coaching staff, with how we played today.”
Score: Kennedy 16, New Hyde Park 8
Records: Kennedy 1-1 (4-4); New Hyde Park 0-2 (2-5)
Heroes: Brooks finished with four goals and one assist for New Hyde Park in the loss. Brooks' impressive shot was one of the lone bright spots for the Gladiators on the day.
Brancato, Gavigan and Shuldiner combined for a staggering 21 points and played a part in 15 of the Cougars' 16 goals. The trio of attackmen cycled the ball with relative ease and made life tough for the New Hyde Park defense.
“We need those guys to score. They’ve been inconsistent up to today, and they really blossomed," Papach said of his three starting attackmen. "We had a great warmup. We thought Brancato was going to be the hot guy today, but Shuldiner and Gavigan [showed] great decision-making, scoring and assisting.”
Shuldiner added: “We just moved it around well. Gavigan had eight assists on the game, Brancato [had] six goals, five goals for myself – we work together well.”
Turning Point: The Cougars led 5-2 with less than 30 seconds left in the first quarter when Christopher Jones found Shuldiner for a goal at the 11:35 mark. Senior Will Diana won the ensuing faceoff, ran downfield and roofed a shot just eight seconds later to take most of the momentum away from the Gladiators.
“It started with the faceoffs," Shuldiner said. "First half, pretty much every faceoff turned into a fast break. Will Diana, Chris Jones and Jake Greenberg on the faceoffs started it off.”
Quotable: "Papach is a good coach. He had his team prepared well," New Hyde Park head coach Michael Milio said after the game. "We just have to learn that we have to play four quarters – it’s something we haven’t done all year, so we’re still working on it.”
Bottom Line: The loss dropped the Gladiators to 0-2 in conference play. The team's inconsistency early on hurt them later in the game, but Milio explained that in time, his team will improve.
“They’re young lacrosse players," Milio said. "They just need to learn more."
The trio of attackmen stole the show for Kennedy, but Shuldiner said that he and his fellow attackmen weren't the reason why the Cougars prevailed.
“Obviously, if the defense didn’t keep it up, we wouldn’t have had the ball on offense," Shuldiner said. "Overall, it was just good play by the whole team.”
Who's Next? April 16, Sewanhaka @ Kennedy, 10:30 a.m.; April 21, Glen Cove @ New Hyde Park, 11 a.m.
Box ScoreTeams 1 2 3 4 F New Hyde Park 2 0 5 1 8 Kennedy 7 4 3 2 16
StatsNew Hyde Park G A P Kennedy G A P Brooks 4 1 5 Gavigan 0 8 8 Justice 1 2 3 Shuldiner 5 2 7 Theodores 2 0 2 Brancato 6 0 6 Trasolini 1 0 1 Jones 1 2 3 Valente 0 1 1 Greenberg 1 1 2 Schlueck 0 1 1 Racalbuto 1 0 1 Hoerter 0 1 1 Diana 1 0 1 -- Hartman 1 0 1 -- Failla 0 1 1
GoaliesNew Hyde Park Shots Saves Kennedy Shots Saves Rudd 32 16 Patrick Grillo 9 7 -- Alex Naftal 11 5 -- Sam Reisner 1 1