By Mike Dougherty
Iona Prep was looking for answers three weeks into the season.
The Gaels made some alterations to the practice routine after back-to-back losses to Fordham Prep and Bronxville left them sitting at .500. Somewhere along the way, the newcomers began to grow up and one win led to another.
Confidence swelled and Iona Prep went on a tear that ended Sunday with a 15-2 win over Canisius in the New York Catholic Schools AA championship at the Mitchel Field Athletic Complex.
“We were taking it one game at a time,” said Christain McHugh, who had four goals and one assist. “We knew we could win games, we just had to find it. And once we started to win games, that helped give us a lot of confidence, but that week was rough.”
The Gaels only lost one more game, and capped a 12-game winning streak with the program’s first state title since going back-to-back in 2009-2010.
Iona Prep got off to a great start in the final, building a quick 6-0 lead on the Buffalo champion.
“We came out and were really playing our game,” said Matt O’Donnell, who had two goals and four assists. “We came out with a lot of emotion, knowing this was something the school hasn’t done in a few years. … When it was over, it was an unbelievable season. There was gear all over the field and we brought it in on coach.”
Chris Kownacki also had four goals and one assist for the Gaels, Herschel Halesworth added three and Connor Korzelius added two. Zach Kryza and Tom O’Connor led the charge on defense, and Iona Prep goalie Charlie McAllister came up with a dozen saves.
“This was truly a remarkable team,” Iona Prep coach Rick Trizano said. “We knew our defense would be strong, and with only one returning starter from last year’s team, had no idea where the offense would come from. We struggled early on at 3-3 but the team really began to gel and we played our best lacrosse at the end of the season.”