Trojan defense shuts down Long Beach to advance to county final
Garden City High's lacrosse players and coaches may not have needed any added incentives as they prepared for their Nassau Conference B semifinal against Long Beach last Tuesday, but the Marines' high-scoring midfielder J.T. Forkin certainly gave it to them. In a Sunday feature, Forkin, who leads the conference in goals and confidence, told Newsday's Will Sammon that “Garden City wouldn't get lucky and beat us by three goals again. I'll get six instead of three.”
Well, the Trojans didn't beat Long Beach by three goals, they won by 10, and Forkin didn't get six goals, he scored one on just five shots. “It was outstanding team defense,” said GC Coach Steve Finnell. “We were able to shut down Forkin and a very good offensive team. These guys have done it all season.”
Garden City defeated Hewlett, 12-3, in the quarterfinals, then raced past Long Beach, 13-3, to advance to the Nassau County Class B Championship game, which will be played at Hofstra this Tuesday (May 28) at 3:30 p.m. The Trojans opponent will be the winner of Manhasset-North Shore. A Manhasset win would set up a replay of the Wood Stick Classic which was won by the Indians, 9-7. That was one of only three losses for the 15-3 Trojans who will be out to win their record eighth straight county title.
Coach Finnell's praise for the defense was well deserved. Ten times in 18 games it has held opponents to four goals or less and has a season average of 4.3. The unit is led by one of the nation's most respected defenseman, Georgetown-bound senior Ed Blatz. It was Blatz who largely neutralized Forkin. He is joined by outstanding senior veterans Scott D'Antonio and Kyle Skramko and the rangy, speedy sophomore Tom Wright. Junior Cullen Minion has also seen considerable time in recent games. Finnell makes sure to mention Brian Badgett and Tim McDonough for their very important roles as defensive middies. Goalie Dan Dolan has been consistently excellent both in the net and with his clearing passes. That position was a question mark after the graduation of Dan Marino, but Dolan's goals against average is virtually the same as Marino's was for last year's state champs.
Against Long Beach (15-3), the Trojans played a mistake-prone first quarter which ended 2-2. However, from that point GC owned the ball thanks in part to the team's ace faceoff man James Sullivan who won all 11 of his draws. As a team, the Trojans won 18 of 20. That led to an offensive explosion that saw GC expand its lead to 6-2 by halftime and an insurmountable 10-3 after three quarters.
Justin Guterding has raised his game to an even higher level since the playoffs have begun. In the quarterfinals against Hewlett he had a season-high five goals and four assists, then he came back with four goals and three assists in the triumph over Long Beach. Junior Cody George has been an important part of the offense as well. He fired in three goals against the Marines. Lucas Clay, Jack Worstell, Jack Metzler and middies Badgett and Sullivan have also helped the Trojans average 14 goals per game in three playoff games.
“We're playing some of our best lacrosse of the season,” observed veteran coach Tom Flatley, “and it couldn't come at a better time.”
LAX NOTES: Incredibly, Garden City will be playing in its 26th Nassau County Championship game in 29 years. Since 1985, GC has missed the final only in 1988, 1996 and 2004......GC is 19-0 alltime vs. Long Beach....Guterding now has 45 goals, 36 assists for 81 points in 18 games, just 10 less than he had in 22 games in 2012.....George and Clay have 23 and 21 goals, respectively, while Worstell has 17 assists and 29 points.