By Mike Dougherty
Conor Gately has always had an eye for the game.
Very few lacrosse players have the natural ability to see the big picture as teammates move through a tangle of close defenders, much less the instinct and imagination to make something happen in the heat of a fleeting moment.
The senior attackman from Yorktown is first and foremost a playmaker.
“Conor is a triple threat,” Somers coach Lew Janavey said. “He can dodge, feed and shoot. He is the best three-dimensional attackman in this area since the days of Rob Kavovit and Jon Hess.
Gately loves nothing more than a perfect set-up.
He finished the season with 37 goals and 79 assists. The Marquette signee now ranks among the school’s top 10 all-time scorers, and is The Journal News/LoHud.com Player of the Year in Westchester and Putnam.
“Seeing the field like Conor does is an innate ability,” Huskers coach Dave Marr said. “It’s something you either have, along with the ability to anticipate what’s going to happen, or you don’t. It’s a huge deal for a feeder. And the best thing about Conor is that he’s unselfish. He wants to get people involved.”
It’s always been that way.
“Even before we moved to Yorktown, I realized that an assist was as good as a goal,” Gately said. “You just have to make the most of each situation, take advantage of whatever opportunity that you might have. Whether it was getting a ground ball, setting up a teammate or scoring a goal, I wanted to make a difference in the game.”
Gately was a Long Island standout through middle school when the family relocated. He’s always been on a first-name basis with many of the Port Washington and Manhasset kids. He started out playing alongside Princeton signee Jake Froccaro, and Gately was able to see the value of putting the ball in the right stick.
“The company my mom works for relocated after 9/11,” he said. “We looked at places in Pleasantville and Putnam Valley, but then my dad got on the Internet to see what schools were good in lacrosse up here.”
Yorktown was an easy choice.
“I hit it right off with kids like Eric Cooley and Brian Quigley, all the guys who played sports,” Gately said. “The passion for lacrosse that everyone has in this community is great. You go to different places in town and people are like, ‘Hey, great game this week.’ I always had great players around me. Putting on that Yorktown jersey and know that you’re one of the few was always unbelievable. … I’m going to miss that. Going on to college is exciting, but I know there’s nothing like playing with your boys on a Friday night under the lights. High school was the best time of my life.”
There are likely to be some big moments at Marquette, too.
Gately could’ve picked a more established program, but he likes the idea of getting in on the ground floor and helping a first-year program. Head coach Joe Amplo got him all fired up during the recruiting process.
“He told me I could be one of the many who go to Hopkins or Maryland, or I could come to Marquette and be one of the building blocks,” Gately said. “I could be the face of the team for four years if I do the right things.”
There might be more records to hold.
“I’m blessed to be in the top 10 at Yorktown, but the points are not what I’m taking with me,” Gately said. “It was always more about playing lacrosse with friends and making some memories.”
The rest of the first team:
Jack Grass, Bronxville: The junior attackman was deadly in transition, finishing with 50 goals and 36 assists. He committed to play at Johns Hopkins.
Nick Mariano, Yorktown: The junior attackman is a high-percentage finisher who got 49 goals and 16 assists. He committed to play at UMass.
Shane Fee, Iona Prep: The senior midfielder had to carry the Gaels for a stretch while teammates got healthy. He signed to play at Bucknell.
Frank Fusco, Yorktown: The senior midfielder started the season on attack, but moved back to provide a force on clears and create unsettled situations with hustle. He signed to play at Drexel.
Chris Monteferante, Lakeland/Panas: The senior midfielder remained strong on faceoffs despite logging heavy two-way minutes. He signed to play at West Point.
Jack Lambert, John Jay: The junior long-stick midfielder was a one-man fast break, capable of forcing a turnover and scoring at the other end. He is committed to play at North Carolina.
Harry Erickson, Brewster: The senior close defender was a catalyst, forcing turnovers with smart and very aggressive play against top attackmen. He signed to play at Albany.
Matt Landis, Pelham: The senior close defender was a force, whether locking down scorers or clearing the ball and looking to score. He signed to play at Notre Dame.
Kevin Schurr, Somers: The senior close defender was close to automatic on any ground ball within his reach. He signed to play at West Point.
Tom Branca, John Jay: The senior goalie anchored the best defensive unit in Section 1, keeping the Indians close against top-flight competition. He signed to play at Fairfield.
Danny Manning, Yorktown: The junior faceoff specialist got better as the season progressed, finishing with a .600 winning percentage. He is committed to play at St. Joseph’s.
Coach of the year
Jeff Barnard, Mamaroneck: The head coach kept the Tigers together while they got healthy, then followed up an eight-game losing streak with the first sectional title in program history.
A — Tom Cirillo, Eastchester, Sr.
A — Peter Conley, Mamaroneck, Jr.
A — Kevin Cousin, Somers, Sr.
MF — Tommy Beck, John Jay, Jr.
MF — Charlie Evans, Mahopac, Sr.
MF — Brewster Warble, Bronxville, Jr.
LSM — Brendan Hynes, Mahopac, Jr.
D — Eric Cooley, Yorktown, Sr.
D — Ben Hylka, Lakeland/Panas, Sr.
D — Trevor Koelsch, Yorktown, Jr.
G — Michael Zingaro, Lakeland/Panas, So.
FOGO — Matt Ledwin, Hen Hud, So.
Jibran Ahmad, Hackley, Sr. MF; Spencer Avalos, Dobbs Ferry, Sr. A; Anthony Berardis, Mahopac, Sr. MF; Thomas Brill, Mamaroneck, Jr. G; Danny Caiola, John Jay, Sr. D; Steven Cola, John Jay, Sr. MF; Alex Corpolongo, Somers, Sr. MF; Kyle Christopher, Putnam Valley, Jr. G; Liam DaRos, Brewster, So. MF; Cory Ekstrom, Greeley, So. A; Mike D’Alessio, Hackley, Sr. G; Matt Ferentini, John Jay, Sr. A; Joe Fraietta, Hen Hud, Jr. LSM; Austin Fusco, Yorktown, So. LSM; Jack Gladstone, Greeley, Jr. A; Henry Grass, Bronxville, Fr. A; Anthony Grasso, Fox Lane, Sr. D; Scott Greenberg, Mamaroneck, Jr. A; Brandon Hickey, Harvey, Sr. MF; Tony LaGuerre, Lakeland/Panas, Sr. MF; Gzim Lajqi, Yorktown, Sr. D; Andrew Larrabee, Byram Hills, Sr. G; Daniel Lobosco, John Jay, Sr. MF; Robby Lorden, White Plains, Jr. MF; Jake Marino, Harrison, So. MF; Zach Mermelstein, Pelham, Jr. MF; Michael Orefice, Iona Prep, So. MF; Brian Prestreau, Yorktown, Jr. MF; Joey Raniolo, Yorktown, Sr. MF; Andrew Rodriguez, Kennedy, Sr. A; Ross Schnitzer, Iona Prep, Jr. LSM; Alex Starr, Croton-Harmon, So. MF; Greg Stern, Rye, Sr. A; Mike Taurone, Pleasantville, Sr. A; Ross Thompson, Mahopac, Jr. A; Billy Trizano, Iona Prep, Jr. A; Johnny van de Veerdonk, Putnam Valley, Jr. MF; Connor Vercruysse, Yorktown, So. A; Andrew Walsh, Bronxville, Sr. MF; Connor Wolfe, Scarsdale, Sr. G.