By Mike Dougherty
Nick Mariano is a natural scorer who spent four seasons playing varsity lacrosse at Yorktown, and he rarely had any issues complying with the primary objective — catch and shoot.
This season, the game was suddenly more complex.
Despite returning a talented cast, the Huskers were missing a few ingredients. They needed somebody to direct traffic. Mariano expanded his game, adding playmaker to an impressive, competitive resume.
It made the veteran attackman even more of a threat.
“That was a tough adjustment for Nick,” Yorktown defender Trevor Koelsch said. “He put in a lot of work, and deserves a lot of credit. I remember playing in the fall, Nick put himself behind the cage. Nobody told him that’s where he needed to be, he just knew. Guys that play attack really like to score, and for Nick to go and tone his game down to get others involved was huge for us.”
Mariano led Section 1 in scoring, getting 63 goals and 48 assists.
The senior all-American who is heading for UMass in the fall made the most of a new approach to the game and is The Journal News Player of the Year for Westchester and Putnam.
“At the end of last season we talked with Nick about rounding out his game,” Huskers coach Dave Marr said. “Obviously, he shoots the ball very well, and we told him that he needed to dodge to the goal and move the ball. And this season, Nick became an all-around attackman.”
Yorktown had eight players in uniform who are heading for Division I programs, but somebody had to make a high-powered offense go. The graduation of Conor Gately left a void.
“It was a big adjustment in my game,” Mariano said. “I talked with coach Marr and coach (Sean) Carney about what I needed to do this year, and they told me I wasn’t going to score as much. They needed me to become more of a facilitator. I was fine with that and we had a great year.”
A regional loss to Niskayuna was the one setback that none of the Huskers will forget.
Yorktown was the most dominant team in Section 1 this season, finishing with a 17-3 record and winning a third straight Class B title. Wins over Chaminade and Ridgefield got the Huskers back in the national spotlight.
They wound up 13th in the Under Armour/Inside Lacrosse power rankings.
“When you’re from Yorktown, there’s a lot of pressure on you to win all those games,” Mariano said. “Last summer, I didn’t think we were going to be very good. We had some missing pieces. And in the fall, when we started to play together, I knew we’d be fine. All of the players that needed to step up and play a huge role came through.”
Mariano and five teammates picked up all-American honors.
He is also keep some impressive company after moving up to sixth on the school’s all-time scoring list with 176 goals and 92 assists.
“It’s really a great honor with all of the lacrosse tradition we have at Yorktown to be on that list,” Mariano said. “There are so many great players. I didn’t care where I ended up, I just wanted to be somewhere on the list.”
To keep the game in order, Mariano is already working out and playing in the Sound Shore League with High Impact. He’s also getting some advice on what to expect at the next level.
“I talk with my coach every two weeks, but all I know is that I have to go in and work my butt off and hope for the best,” Marinao said. “I don’t know my role yet, but I’ll be ready to play. I’m running and lifting. I’m playing summer league. I’m talking with guys like Frankie Fusco and Conor Gately to see what they did as freshman to get off to such a good start.”
Other members of the first team include:
Kyle Christopher (Putnam Valley): The senior goalie never seemed to be rushed no matter how much pressure he was facing and finished with 194 saves. Christopher anchored an undersized defense, surrendering 6.5 goals per game. He is committed to Stevenson (Md.) University.
Peter Conley (Mamaroneck): The senior all-American middie took over more big games than any player in the section, leading the Tigers to back-to-back Class A titles. The school’s all-time leading scorer had 59 goals and 38 assists this season. Conley is committed to Georgetown.
Austin Fusco (Yorktown): The junior all-American defender had a breakout season after moving from long stick midfielder to solidify the close defense, creating 45 turnovers and scooping up 38 ground balls. Fusco is committed to Syracuse.
Jack Grass (Bronxville): The senior all-American attackman came back from offseason shoulder surgery and simply dominated the opposition. He graduated as the school’s all-time leading scorer with 154 goals and 146 assists. Grass is committed to Johns Hopkins.
Trevor Koelsch (Yorktown): The senior all-American defender is a rare four-year starter for the Huskers who routinely matched up against the top attackman on the field, using an impressive wingspan and quick hands to create 31 turnovers. Koelsch is committed to Johns Hopkins.
Jack Lambert (John Jay): The senior all-American long-stick middie was an intimidator on defense who created turnovers, pounced on ground balls, jumped in the rush and created issues at the other end of the field where he scored nine goals. Lambert is committed to North Carolina.
Luke Palmadesso (Yorktown): The junior all-American had a .795 winning percentage on faceoffs, which overshadowed his overall contribution. Palmadesso led the Huskers with 105 ground balls and came up with 16 goals and 16 assists. He is committed to Villanova.
Brian Prestreau (Yorktown): The senior all-American middie ignited more than one spark for the Huskers, utilizing his speed and natural ability to create space to score timely goals. He finished with 67 goals and 15 assists. Prestreau is committed to Stony Brook.
Brian Prunty (Lakeland/Panas): The junior started the season on attack, then moved back to midfield and helped the Rebels close the season on a run. He got special attention from opposing defenses, but finished with 42 goals and 20 assists. Prunty is committed to Siena.
Ross Schnitzer (Iona Prep): The senior defender combined finesse with the stick and power in tight quarters, locking down some of the CHSAA’s top scorers. Schnitzer is the league’s defensive player of the year and is committed to Loyola.
Connor Vercruysse (Yorktown): The junior all-American attackman with a powerful shot killed any defense that slid early to cover the Huskers’ other scoring threats and wound up with 61 goals. Vercruysse is committed to Rutgers.
Coach of the year
Tim Horgan (Bronxville): After winning back-to-back Section 1 titles, Horgan was able to put a very ambitious schedule together and provide the kind of preparation his team needed to go deeper in the playoffs. The Broncos went 22-2, won a third Class C championship, knocked off Shoreham-Wading River in the regional final and came up just short in the state final, losing 13-11 to Cazenovia.
A – Henry Grass (Bronxville), So.
A – Matt Behrens (Bronxville), Jr.
A – Brendan Halloran (Pleasantville), Jr.
MF – Shawn Smith (John Jay), Jr.
MF – Alex Corpolongo (Somers), Sr.
MF – Liam DaRos (Brewster), Jr.
LSM – Brendan Hynes (Mahopac), Sr.
FOGO – Matt Ledwin (Hen Hud), Sr.
D – Jack Phelan (Yorktown), Sr.
D – Matt Lanza (John Jay), Jr.
D – Charles Tarry (Bronxville), So.
G – Mike Zingaro (Lakeland/Panas), Jr.
Cyrus Adamiyatt (Bronxville), Sr., D; Sam Alabaster (Hackley), Sr., MF; Graham Bocklet (John Jay), Jr., LSM; Thomas Brill (Mamaroneck), Sr., G; Alex Bronzo (Putnam Valley), Jr., D; Greg Drillock (Pleasantville), Jr., MF; Andrew Duffy (John Jay), Sr., MF; Max Ellis (Mamaroneck), Sr., D; Scott Greenberg (Mamaroneck), Sr. A; Anthony Fraietta (Hen Hud), Sr. LSM; Nik Genualdo (Somers), Jr., G; Phil Grecco (Fox Lane), Jr. G; Jack Hasselmann (Rye), Sr., MF; Jack Kaiser (Bryam Hills) Sr. MF; Jack Korzelius (Iona Prep), Jr., MF; Robbie Lorden (White Plains), Sr., G; Kevin McDermott (Hen Hud) Sr. A; Connor Morley (Byram Hills), Jr., D; Christian Magnan (Fox Lane), Sr., LSM; Danny Manning (Yorktown), Sr., MF; John Marchese (North Salem), Sr., A; Jake Marino (Harrison), Jr., MF; Kevin McGee (White Plains), Sr., A; Mike Mendelson (Greeley), Jr., A; Tyler Miller (Rye Country Day), Jr., MF; Andrew Murray (Stepinac), Sr., MF; Michael O’Conner (Ossining) Jr. A; Nick Oliver (Mahopac), Sr., MF; Michael Orefice (Iona Prep), Jr., FOGO; Dylan Pailes-Friedman (Mamaroneck), Sr., FOGO; Eric Pass (Bronxville), Sr., G; Tomas Rodriguez (Yorktown), Sr., LSM; David Rubenstein (Somers) Sr. A; Chris Santangelo (Rye), Jr. MF; Brad Seem (Hackley), Sr., D; Mike Smith (Croton-Harmon) Sr., A; Brandon Standard (Iona Prep), Jr. MF; Ross Thompson (Mahopac), Sr., A; Billy Trizano (Iona Prep), Sr., A; Robert Waldman (Harrison), Sr., MF; Johnny van de Veerdonk (Putnam Valley) Sr., MF; Reilly Walsh (Bronxville), Fr., MF; Brewster Warble (Bronxville), Sr., MF; Noah Weissmann (Greeley), So., G; Peter White (Rye) Sr. G.