Coach Nick Savastano and the John Jay Indians are pointing toward their final non-section test of the season when they visit Garden City on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. The Indians have already faced four teams that were nationally ranked when they played them Ã¢â‚¬â€ Huntington, Duxbury (Mass.), Corning East and Manhasset.
Two weeks after beating Manhasset for the first time in school history, the John Jay Indians will be looking to pull off another first on Saturday.
The Indians, who will be playing at Garden City at 1:30 p.m., will be looking to win a game on Long Island for the first time in the 32-year history of the school’s varsity program.
This is a game of national powers that could be a preview of the Class B state semifinals. Garden City, though, would have to get past Huntington, which dealt John Jay its only loss of the season. Since then, the Indians have won 13 straight.
In the “latest STX/Inside Lacrosse national rankings,”:http://www.insidelacrosse.com/page.cfm?pagerid=65840&cat=67366&hidecontent=yes&id=163976 John Jay is No. 8 and Garden City is No. 14.
John Jay is No. 2 behind Huntington in the “latest Class B state rankings”:http://www.newyorksportswriters.org/reference/current_polls_blax_070510.shtml while Garden City is third.
In its Huntington and Manhasset games, John Jay goaltender Chris Latino had to make a combined 42 saves. In fact, had Latino not come up huge, Manhasset likely would have defeated the Indians in regulation.
Another area of importance will be faceoffs. John Jay lost all three FOs after regulation against Manhasset and 16 of 24 for the game.
“Any time you play Long Island teams, they always have good faceoff kids,” said John Jay coach Nick Savastano, who Indians witnessed just that in a 13-1 loss to West Islip last year in the Class A state semifinals.
There is good news in that department for John Jay. Jason Lynch, a faceoff specialist the Indians managed to neutralize last year, is now playing at UPenn.
“WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re very concerned about it (faceoffs),” Savastano said. “We keep telling the kids that weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re not going to go far if we donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t fix this faceoff situation. Sometimes it comes down to matchups, so you don’t really know till you throw people out there.”
In addition to the loss of Lynch, there is another big change in this year’s Garden City team compared to the one John Jay beat 15-11 last year (after losing to the Trojans 16-4 in 2005). Yonkers native Doc Dougherty, who guided Garden City for 33 years and compiled more than 550 career wins, is no longer the head coach. He’s been replaced by Steve Finnell.
But Harvard-bound Dean Gibbons (who wears jersey No. 7), who set a Long Island single-season record with 101 goals last season, is back for the Trojans, who won the Nassau Class B title last year.
The Trojans (12-2) have two other major D-I recruits in midfielders Tim Harder (Syracuse, No. 22) and Terry Kennedy (North Carolina, No. 21).
Gibbons, Harder and Kennedy are team captains.
Like John Jay, the Trojans have a first-year starter in goal and junior Brian McCullough has enjoyed a strong season Ã¢â‚¬â€ just like Latino.
Garden City’s losses have come against nationally ranked teams: No. 8 St. Paul’s of Maryland (12-11) and No. 24 Smithtown West (13-8).
Garden City defeated mutual opponent Manhasset 11-8.
If you’re not making the trip, you can get scoring updates on the game right here at Lax to the Max from Rod Boone, who is returning to his native Long Island to cover all the action.
I’ve gone on record as picking Garden City to win 9-7. But can the Indians prove me wrong once again as they did by beating Manhasset?
Or will the Rod Boone/John Jay hex continue? The other time Rod covered John Jay this season was its loss to Huntington.
Stay tuned. It should be very interesting.
<b>Links to the teams’ Web sites:</b>