By Mike Dougherty
RYE — There is plenty of talent at both ends of the field. There is no shortage of experience. There is clearly a desire to return to prominence.
Expectations at Rye are extremely high.
Still, the Garnets needed to bump heads with some quality opponents before they could get a sense of where they stand. They are officially in good shape following a methodical 8-4 win Saturday against Lakeland/Panas.
Rye beat Greeley a few days earlier and closed the first week of the season with real momentum.
“Every once in awhile we see some glimpses of some pretty stuff,” Garnets attackman Danny Sullivan said. “We keep working on it every day.”
The Rebels (0-4) simply could not gain possession of the ball in the first half.
“With us right now, and it’s not a big secret, we can’t win faceoffs and we struggle to pick up ground balls,” Lakeland/Panas coach Jim Lindsay said of a group that includes just one senior. “Then when we get the ball on offense, we don’t play smart lacrosse. We have yet to give up more than 10 goals to some pretty good teams, so we’re playing good defense for the amount of defense we play.”
All that chasing is tiresome.
Rye (2-0) was dominant from the start, putting shots everywhere but in the net. Brian Prunty scored the first of his three goals to get the Rebels in front.
And then came the decisive run. Sullivan evened the score, then Noah Spaeth fired a shot off Lakeland/Panas goalie Mike Zingaro that barely trickled in, giving the Garnets a 2-1 advantage.
Chris Santangelo kept winning faceoffs.
“That’s so important,” the junior midfielder said. “If you win the faceoffs, you keep possession. If they don’t have the ball, they’re not going to score. I have to give a shout to my wing guys – Laz Chavez and Jack O’Brien – they did an awesome job getting the ground balls.”
And that’s where the Rebels struggle.
Sullivan went low and made it a 3-1 edge. Rye did not relent. Usually it’s the defense that wears down after multiple long possessions. The Garnets needed to substitute liberally, too, and they kept finishing. The lead at halftime was up to 6-1.
“I got a nice nap before the game so I felt pretty rested,” Santangelo said. “We came in with the right mindset, knowing it was going to be a tiring game.”
They learned a lesson a year ago in an 11-3 loss to Lakeland/Panas.
“We knew we were going to have to come out really hard because this team came out and got after us last year right from the beginning and whooped us right from the beginning,” Sullivan said. “We came out the right way and delivered, then hung on in the end.”
Zingaro kept Rye off the board in the third quarter, and the Rebels took advantage of some extra-man chances to close to within 7-4 with three minutes to play.
“I think we’re good enough to make some noise in Class B,” Santangelo said. “I think we’re good enough to play with anybody — Yorktown, John Jay — but we have to play well. We’ve seen what happens when we’re not playing well, but when we are playing well, I think we’re unstoppable.”
(Photo by Carucha L. Meuse/The Journal News)