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CROSS RIVER, N.Y. — Somers goalie Chris Cousin goes by an interesting nickname.
"They call me Crabby Chris before games because I'm so uptight," Cousin explained.
In Thursday's marquee matchup against Class B rival John Jay-Cross River (4-2), it was more like “Clutch Chris.” The Holy Cross-bound senior came up with 12 huge saves to help the Tuskers (5-1) secure a statement-making 9-6 win.
“You have to make those saves if you want to win big games, so that's what I did,” Cousin said.
Almost half of Cousin's saves came right on the doorstep, including a pair midway through the fourth quarter. With Somers clinging to a narrow 7-6 lead, Cousin stuffed John Jay-CR's Brandon Lee and then stonewalled Doug Brown on consecutive shots.
At least one person in attendance wasn't the least bit surprised with the jaw-dropping saves.
“In practice, (Cousin) does that to me all the time,” teammate Anthony Carpenter said. “He's a clutch player and always steps up to make clutch plays.”
Carpenter did his part, too. The senior attackman bagged back-to-back goals late in the fourth quarter to seal it, beating his man both times on strong dodges from behind the cage at X.
“I knew I needed to step up as a leader and a captain of the team,” Carpenter said. “In the fourth quarter and at the end of the game, I knew that I had to finish. We wanted this win so bad. We were thinking about it all day.”
Overall, the Tuskers outscored John Jay-CR 3-0 in the fourth quarter. Junior middie Alex Corpolongo, who sniped a pair of man-up goals from the perimeter, broke a 6-6 tie with 11:12 left in regulation.
For John Jay-CR — which jumped out to a 4-3 first-quarter lead — it was the case of letting a promising start go to waste. Long-stick middie Jack Lambert gave the Indians a 1-0 lead just 26 seconds into the first quarter, finishing a pass from fellow defenseman Danny Caiola in transition. Senior attackman Matt Ferentini took over from there, pumping in all of his team-high three goals during the first-quarter surge.
But the Indians would manage just two more goals the rest of the way, scoring both in a hotly contested third quarter. Andrew Duffy struck first to trim Somers' lead to 6-5 and Tom Beck tied it up at 6-6 with 21 ticks left in the quarter.
In crunch time, however, John Jay-CR struggled to create chances in its base six-on-six offense. The majority of their goals came in transition.
“I don't think they really beat us six-on-six,” Cousin said. “I think we had some mishaps on the clear that gave them easy goals. We were really nervous because this is a huge game for us. Once we settled in and played good lacrosse, our true team came out.”
Somers' smartest decision was moving senior defenseman Kevin Schurr on Ferentini. Schurr, who started the game guarding Beck, blanked John Jay-CR's leading scorer over the final three quarters of play.
Offensively, the Tuskers leaned on top finisher Kevin Cousin, who pumped in a team-high three goals. The Siena-bound senior attackman buried back-to-back second-quarter goals to help Somers grab a 5-4 lead with 3:55 left in the first half. Chris Marasco (1G, 1A), Tim Cousin (1G) and Mike Ashikari (1A) rounded out the offensive production.
The victory had an added sweetness factor for Somers, which lost an 11-10 overtime thriller to the Indians in last year's Section 1 Class B semifinals. Of course, both teams expect to meet again down the road. After all, they have squared off in the sectionals three years running.
“I know we are going to see (John Jay-CR) again,” Chris Cousin said. “I'm really fired up because every game is a great game like this. I know they are going bring it, so we will have to bring it again, too.”
GAME NOTES: John Jay-CR leads the all-time series against Somers, 11-6. Recently, however, it has come down to the flip of a coin. In eight games played since 2009, the two teams are an even 4-4 … Kevin Cousin leads Somers in scoring with 17 goals, while Matt Ferentini leads John Jay-CR with 11 … John Jay-CR's offense failed to cracked double-digit goals for the third straight game … The Indians relinquished a season-high nine goals … Somers will host Connecticut powerhouse Ridgefield in its next game on Saturday, while John Jay-CR travels to national power Manhasset (Long Island) on the same day.
Email Isaac Cass at Icass@cablevision.com | Follow him on Twitter @MSGV_Icass