It was not to be. After a season spent either losing big leads or surmounting them, Coach Steve Lennon’s men found a team they couldn’t come back on: John Jay of Cross River.
The third-seeded Indians—generally considered to be the No. 1A to No. 1 Yorktown in Section One lacrosse—came into the game at Nugent Stadium Tuesday night as the third seed, one below the number two Garnets.
They netted a score in the second minute of the game only because Rye freshman netminder Emmett Carroll made a spectacular save up high to keep them from scoring in the first minute.
Rye pulled even with two and a half minutes gone on a heady play by senior co-captain Will Hynson. After a stick check along the sidelines won the ball for Rye, the Garnet middie threw a quick one-bouncer toward the Indians’ goal while keeper Shahe Katchadurian was still retreating. John Jay coach Tim Schurr protested, but the goal stood.
Despite a couple more brilliant saves by Carroll, the visitors were up by two when junior Billy Chabot scored on a one-bouncer at 3:35 of the first to make it 3-2. That’s as close as Rye would come for the rest of the night. In fact, a hail of five goals in the first four minutes of the second quarter sealed the Garnets’ fate. A combination of a less-than-airtight zone in front of goal and faceoff losses at the X had the locals down 8-2 when Chabot scored Rye’s third at 6:51. Then the teams went scoreless the rest of the way to halftime.
In the locker room, Coach Lennon gave an unusual halftime talk. Instead of reminding the boys that they’d come back from the same five-goal deficit up at Somers in the regular season, he used a losing game to make the same point: how the team had blown a huge cushion to Iona Prep a month earlier, losing in double-overtime 13-12 after leading by 12-3 with little more than a quarter left in the game. What Hynson heard was, “They did it to us. We can do it to these guys.”
They almost did. Playing like the second-half team they are, the Garnets swarmed the Indians’ crease. Senior Ryan Kirkpatrick beat his man to the outside and fed classmate Teddy Aquiline at 7:50 of the third to make it 8-4.
Hynson warded off a check and scored from 15 yards out to make it 8-5. Rye followed that with a great defensive stand for 90 seconds, setting up the play of the night. It was that man Hynson again. He took the ball just over the line in John Jay territory, worked his man for what seemed like 10 seconds without finding a shooting lane until he was behind the net. And then he simply beat him from behind the cage, scoring low to bring Rye to 8-6 down and charging with 2:50 left in the third.
Lesser teams have crumbled when Rye applied the pressure, but John Jay held firm, scoring the final two goals of the stanza. They added goal number 11 with two minutes gone in the final quarter. Though senior attackman Brendan Dugan won a loose ball and fed Chabot, he hit the pipe—one of five pipes the Garnets banged during the contest—at 8:15.
Dugan would score in his own right from an acute angle at 5:23, and Hynson would shift hands from right to left to find the net with 4:44 left in the game. But, despite freshman defender Brendan Lavelle’s quick interception of a John Jay pass after the ensuing face-off, the Indians would finally score the goal that sealed the game with under two minutes to play. Still, Chabot epitomized the never-say-die Garnet spirit when he nailed a low fling that would make the final 12-9.
Afterwards, Coach Lennon mentioned that late goal. “I’ve learned that Rye kids never give up. Never. We’ll be back.”