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MSG Varsity provides team-by-team reports from Saturday's Somers Red/Gray lax scrimmage, which featured local schools Lakeland/Panas, Suffern, Fox Lane and Somers. Other teams in attendance were Jericho (LI), Don Bosco (NJ), Kings Park (LI) and St. Anthony's (LI).
Somers came out of the gates slow in its first scrimmage of the day against Don Bosco, but improved as the day wore on against Jericho, Suffern and Kings Park.
“It’s good to play strong competition because it’s going to let us know where we stand,” Somers senior goalie Chris Cousin said. “I think we’re going to be a good team this year, but it’s nice to play teams like this and really get a feel for what’s it going to be like playing Yorktown, John Jay and teams like that.”
The Tuskers, which suffered a devastating 11-10 overtime loss to John Jay-Cross River in last year’s Section 1 Class B semifinals, lost some key players to graduation like attackman and leading scorer Kieran Donohue (Siena) and midfielder Anthony Lombardo (Binghamton).
Senior captain Kevin Cousin, who is also headed for Siena, will lead the team at attack and should be the top scorer.
“I think I see the field pretty well and find the open man,” Kevin said. “I’d say I’m a pretty good shooter from outside. I can dodge a little bit, too. I just want to be a good leader this year for us.”
Kevin broke his collarbone during football season (played quarterback), but is fully healthy for lax season.
“I’m 100 percent,” he said. “Our trainer Kevin Mullen did a great job with me. I did a lot of physical therapy, three or four times a week to get back quickly. It was a good recovery and everything is good to go.”
Senior attackman Anthony Carpenter, a captain, is expected to aid Cousin in the scoring department.
“I like to dodge a lot, I think that’s my strongest area,” Carpenter said. “I see the field well and make some good passes.”
Senior captain Kevin Schurr, who will play for Army next year, will anchor the defense. Brian Jordan and Dave Cordes will also start on defense. Athletic long stick midfielder Matt Chiriboga is expected to be a solid contributor. Ryan Carney should also be a factor defensively.
“I think the defense will probably be the strength of our team this year,” Schurr said.
Chris Cousin, a senior captain, is solid between the pipes and has a knack for making clutch saves.
“I always feel confident with Chris in the cage because he can always make those tough saves,” Schurr said. “A good goalie can make the saves he’s supposed to make, but I think Chris makes those saves along with some of the tougher ones that maybe he shouldn’t be saving.”
The Tuskers are young at midfield with Alex Corpolongo, Mike Ashikari and Chris Marasco. Sophomore Tim Cousin, the younger brother of Chris and Kevin, should be a factor.
Team chemistry will be a strength for the Tuskers.
“We’ve all played together for a while since we were really little,” said Chris Cousin, who is deciding between Binghamton and Holy Cross for college. “Maybe one of our weaknesses is we have a lot of new people. They’re all great athletes, but I think we need to get a little more familiar with the system. They’re a little nervous right now, so this (the scrimmage) is good to get them comfortable and ready to go.”
The Tuskers believe the road to a Section 1 Class B title goes through defending champion Yorktown.
“I mean Yorktown, what else can you say, they’re Yorktown,” Schurr said. “I think they’re going to be the team to beat this year in the section, but I think if we work hard we can definitely compete. That’s our goal, to compete and get as far as we can in the tournament and ultimately win the section if we can.”
The Rebels were arguably the most impressive of the four Hudson Valley teams that took part in the scrimmage. They more than held their own against St. Anthony’s to start the day and played well against Jericho, Kings Park and Don Bosco.
“It’s a great chance to see where we are going into the season against good competition,” senior captain Tony Laguerre said. “St Anthony’s, we wouldn’t see them normally, so we get to get here and see them and where we match up. It’s great to get a head start on the season.”
Lakeland/Panas graduated a ton of its scoring from last season with the departure of Conor Prunty (Siena) and Rob Caffrey (Providence). But they have a plethora of players ready to carry the scoring burden.
Sophomore attackman Brian Prunty is a big presence with a rocket shot that will create match-up problems for many opposing teams.
Senior Midfielder Chris Monteferante, a captain who will play for Army next year, is a monster on face-offs and is all over the field.
“I’ve worked hard on the face-off with coach Alfredo,” Monteferante said. “He really worked hard with me my sophomore year and that’s kind of where everyone kind of learned my name for facing off.”
Laguerre, a midfielder, will provide some scoring pop. He scored the game-winning goal in a 13-12 overtime win over Suffern in the Section 1 Class A semifinals last year.
In between the pipes, sophomore Mike Zingaro is much improved.
“He’s a big part of our defense and makes a lot of good saves,” senior defender Ben Hylka said.
In front of Zingaro leading the defense will be Hylka, senior Mike Kaplan and Christian Amoroso.
“It’s important for us to keep the talk up and hold the defense together,” Hylka said. “We’ve got a lot of young defenders on midfield. We’ve got to talk them through it.”
The Rebels expect to be a well-rounded team, but they believe they must improve defensively to have success.
“Defensively we’re pretty young and inexperienced,” Monteferante said. “But the guys are really coming together just from the first day of practice till now. It’s been taking leaps and bounds [with] guys talking, getting through picks and getting the slides. Offensively we’re really starting to click, passes are getting up from the ankles up to the heads. Everyone is moving and cutting.”
The Rebels fell to Mahopac in the Section 1 Class A final last season and won the section two seasons ago. After winning the Murphy Cup two years ago, Lakeland/Panas fell to Yorktown, 11-7, last season. This year’s Murphy Cup is slated for May 4 at Lakeland High School.
“Obviously [our goal] is to get that plaque back and win the section title,” Hylka said. “Last year I felt like we underachieved and could have done a lot better. We’re just trying to get better from last year.”
Last year’s loss to Mahopac is definitely on the forefront of their minds.
“We’re definitely bitter from last year,” Kaplan said. “Two years ago taking it was a great feeling. Last year it wasn’t good at all. Every year our goal is to try to take the section and win the Murphy Cup. “
The Mounties came out slow against Fox Lane, but quickly found their footing and appeared to play about even with the Foxes. They struggled a bit against Somers, contended with St. Anthony’s and closed out the day against Kings Park.
Suffern is sparked by senior midfielder Kevin McNally. McNally suffered a broken jaw playing box lacrosse in the off-season, but is expected to return in two weeks.
“It was one of the worst experiences of my life,” McNally said. “It wasn’t a hard hit or anything. We were just playing the game and it was unfortunate. I had my jaw wired for two weeks so I lost a little weight. I’m a little quicker now.”
Along with McNally, senior attackman Peter Sharp should be a major contributor on the attack line. The Mounties are experienced at attack and midfield.
“At attack, all our guys are back and middies same thing,” McNally said. “We’re lacking depth. Last year we had three or four lines, but now we’re down to one or two lines.”
The Mounties also have some talented hockey players that are solid at lacrosse in senior attackmen John Redgate and Willie Sanchez. They’re coming off a spectacular hockey season where they won the Division 1 state championship.
Senior Chris Leary leads the defense for a team that prides itself in that area.
“Coach McNally set up a great defense over the years and it’s really an honor to try to keep that tradition going,” Leary said. “We play somewhat of a zone defense with one guys always firing. It seems to work. Last year was our first year running it and we had some great success. It’s tough to learn, but over time guys get acquainted to the system and it really works well.”
Suffern fell 13-12 to Lakeland/Panas in an overtime thriller in the Section 1 Class A semifinals last year. The Mounties expect Class A to be as tough as ever this season.
“It’s very competitive and that’s a good thing,” Leary said. “You lose a game here or there it’s only going to get you better for the next one. It’s good to have some competition. You don’t want it to be an easy breeze. Having competition just makes you better.”
The Foxes started the scrimmage off well by rattling off three quick goals on Suffern. They then played St. Anthony’s, Kings Park and Jericho.
“I think we’re really looking at the younger guys to see who can really compete and step up,” senior defender Anthony Grasso said. “In our first game against Suffern I think some of our younger guys [showed that] they’re really learning the concepts well. We’re really meshing well as a team.”
Grasso anchors the defense and will continue his lacrosse career at Stevens Tech.
“I really try and have my actions speak louder than my words,” he said. “I try and work my hardest, go for every ground ball and communicate well on defense.”
Anthony’s twin brother Nick, who is 6-foot and 200 pounds, leads the midfield and will play lacrosse at Montclair State next year.
Nick and Anthony provide different leadership styles as team captains.
“I love being a captain with him,” Nick said. “We’ve been playing together since seventh grade. We know exactly what each other is going to do, we’ve always got each other’s back no matter what. He’s not as ‘rah-rah’ as I am. He’s better with communicating and I’m better with being loud on them (teammates) and motivating.”
The strength of the Foxes is that they don’t rely on one or two players to carry the team.
“I think that we don’t have any superstars and it’s actually going to benefit us a lot,” Anthony said. “We’re a lot more of a team this year and we’re not necessarily all about ourselves. We’re really coming together as a team and really playing for each other.”
Follow Rob DiAntonio on Twitter @MSGV_RJD