Rye High Boys’ Lacrosse
By Mitch Silver
Right before spring break, Rye High Boys’ Lacrosse played three crucial games in five days. Why crucial? Because losing the home opener 12-7 to Pleasantville at the end of March suggested a serious flaw in the team’s makeup: slow to non-existent starts.
The Garnets had come from behind to beat Class A power Mamaroneck two days earlier, but this time Pleasantville was up by 3-0 before the Garnets knew the game had begun. True, the Panthers are the top-rated team in Class C, the division one step below Rye, but, as senior co-captain Will Hynson said after the game, “They came at us in a zone press all over the field, and we were back on our heels.”
Would first-year coach Steve Lennon, last year’s Class B Coach of the Year at Eastchester, diagnose the problem and find the answer before the team faced the toughest part of their schedule — games against second-ranked John Jay, the top independent school in Iona Prep, and Class A’s top-rated Lakeland/Panas?
The evidence suggests Dr. Lennon has the right medicine. The problem was at its worst April 4 when Rye traveled to take on a tough Somers team on a slick, rainy field: the Garnets were losing 5-0 ... 5-0! ... when Teddy Aquilino managed to score at the buzzer that ended the first period.
It got worse before it got better. Connor Gill scored for the Tuskers with a minute gone to make it 6-1. Rye’s Brendan Dugan scored on a one-timer from Ryan Kirkpatrick at the 7:24 mark to make it 6-2, but when Gill scored again with a minute to go in the half, things looked really black — and not the Garnet & Black kind of black.
Then Rye somehow received their collective wake-up call. First, Peter Chabot earned a clean faceoff win, taking a shot to the neck in the process that earned Rye an extra man opportunity. Kirkpatrick and Dugan teamed up again for a score with 25 seconds left to make it 7-3.
The second half was all Rye. Aquilino scored from in close while being shoved in the back: 7-4. Then the Garnets’ D tightened up. Junior netminder Alex Goldstein, starting only his first varsity game, made a couple of key stops. Defenseman Davis Ross scooped up a couple of key ground balls. When Billy Chabot maneuvered past two Tuskers to score down low at the three-minute mark, Rye was within two.
Chabot would score again with eight seconds left in the quarter, Rye‘s third end-of-period score, when he sprinted up the right side and hit the net with a low stick-side shot. Somers 7, Rye 6 with one period to go.
It was all over but the shouting, even though Somers managed a score with three minutes gone. Peter Chabot would win seven of the nine remaining faceoffs, including one that set up Aquilino for a shot off the pipe. He got his own rebound, fed Hynson on a cut to the net, and Rye was back within one at 7:38.
A minute later, Aquilino faked a little dump-off pass, whirled, cut inside and scored to tie the game at 8. Peter Chabot won another faceoff and that other Chabot, Billy, scored on a deflection to push Rye in front at 3:22.
Then came a key moment in the game: Billy missed an open net with Somers goalie Tyler Carr double-teaming behind the cage. Carr recovered the ball and tried a quick clear up the middle. Aquilino was quicker, intercepting and scoring with 90 seconds left, nullifying a late Somers score and winning the game.
Afterwards, Aquilino said, “We definitely ignited the flame in the second half. Once we get a goal, we go off ... though it’s definitely better to get a good start.”
The 11-8 win over Pelham three days later, with Billy Chabot scoring four times, and a 15-3 rout of Fox Lane on the Saturday before the break — with Aquilino and Spencer Hunt each getting three — proves that Aquilino and Lennon know their stuff.
After facing John Jay/CR post-press time, Rye travels to Iona Prep today at 4:30 p.m.