By Brian Heyman
WEST NYACK — Chris Loomis loomed as a large obstacle in front of the cage. North Rockland couldn’t get the ball by him in the first quarter and fell behind Clarkstown South by two goals. But it sure helps that the Red Raiders literally have a linebacker taking their faceoffs.
“It’s all of my game, really,” said John Dapolito, a senior bound for Southern Connecticut to play football.
Dapolito’s strength helped North Rockland take possession of the ball and the game in the second quarter. The Red Raiders started converting their chances, scoring six of the seven goals in the period, winning all seven faceoffs along the way.
And they went on to claim a 13-6 road win Wednesday, paced by Tom Kelly’s four goals and one assist. Dapolito had no goals, no assists and one large impact.
“He wins faceoffs, we usually win games,” coach Greg Grasso said. “It’s that much more possession time.”
The Red Raiders want to take possession of the League IV-A title, which they will do with a win over Clarkstown North in their regular-season finale at home Friday. They also want possession of the unofficial title as best in Rockland. This was South’s first loss to a Rockland team. North Rockland and Nyack also have just one loss to a county team. But the Red Raiders have the best overall record at 11-4.
“To be the best, I can’t even put words to get the feeling out,” Kelly said.
The junior attackman/middie got North Rockland going in the second quarter, scoring from in close on the left side off a feed from Tyler Senatore. Thirty-three seconds later, Senatore scored to tie it.
After Ryan Jelen set up Matt Haggerty in front — both scored two goals for the Vikings — senior defenseman Joe Scheffold found the net to tie it again. That started a run of four straight Red Raiders’ goals before the break, making it a 6-3 game.
“Our offense clicks,” said Scheffold, who will walk on for lacrosse at Manhattan. “They’re a family. Our defense is a family. We all talk. We have great communication.”
North Rockland also won the ground-ball game, and it pulled away in the final quarter.
“It’s a good quality team,” coach Adam Chagares said after his South team fell to 6-8. “They hustled. Our guys, they hustled. They tried fighting back. I’ll give credit to our guys for putting in four quarters of hard work.”
The Class A sectional work begins next week.
“It’s more open than it usually is,” Grasso said. “We want to try to get to that final. We’ve never been there before. We’ll have to play very well.”