The sport has changed. So has the ball. But Paul Bentz and Craig Berge of Massapequa are the same unbeatable connection in spring that they were last fall.
Bentz was the quarterback on the football team and Berge was his primary target at wide receiver. Fast-forward to lacrosse season -- even though the wind-chill factor early Thursday night made it feel like football weather -- and the roles are similar.
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Bentz is the Chiefs' feeder and Berge is the finisher. Berge had five goals, two on slick assists from Bentz, who had four dimes, and Massapequa scored four goals in the fourth quarter to pull away from host Farmingdale, 9-5, in a Nassau A game.
"They work so well together," Massapequa coach Tim Radomski said. "They both seem to sense where the other guy is going to be."
Berge usually is cutting to an open spot with a good angle for a shot on goal. Bentz usually finds Berge, or someone else. "Paul is a great feeder. Craig is our leader and a real team player," Radomski said. "He doesn't worry about goals or assists. He just wants us to win."
Berge didn't need any assistance when he gave Massapequa the lead for good with a bullet from the top right slot with 7:02 left in the third that made it 5-4. Massapequa (5-1) took a 6-4 lead early in the fourth when Bentz, from behind the cage, found Jack Korber open in front.
Bentz then hit Jim Byrns (two goals) cutting down the alley for a man-up goal and Berge in the slot for an 8-4 lead that was too much for Farmingdale (6-2) to overcome.
"Paul and I are a good duo in football and lacrosse," Berge said. "We're good friends and I'm always catching the ball from him."
Of the Chiefs' fourth-quarter flurry that broke open what had been a tight defensive game, Berge said, "They went to a zone and our zone offense really worked. We kept finding the open man and finishing. The fourth quarter has been our focus all year."
Thursday's game was typically intense in a long-standing rivalry known as the Backyard Brawl because the schools are only three miles apart. "We sure do still call it that," Radomski said. "The kids like to win it for the bragging rights. A lot of them know each other."
In the case of Berge and Bentz, it was more like a backyard game of catch between a couple of friends.