MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. -- After losing in the finals each of the past two seasons Garden City finally captured its elusive fifth boys lacrosse state championship Saturday afternoon.
Devin Dwyer had two goals and four assists, Patric Berkery scored three goals and Dan Marino made eight saves as Garden City, the consensus top-ranked team in the country, defeated Irondequoit, 11-4, in the Class B title game. It is the first state title since 2000 and the first under sixth-year coach Steve Finnell for Garden City (22-0).
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The win completed a Garden City sweep of boys and girls state Class B lacrosse titles as the girls defeated Canandaigua earlier Saturday.
"After last year's loss [8-7 in overtime to Jamesville-Dewitt] it was probably the worst feeling ever," said the Penn-bound Berkery, who blew past his defender to score his second goal with 9:07 to go in the third period and put Garden City ahead for good at 4-3. Garden City had possession leading by that score late in the third quarter when Justin Guterding got blindsided with a devastating illegal check to the head by Irondequoit's George Jerman. The hit energized both squads, as the Eagles celebrated and a member of the coaching staff high-fived Jerman as he went to the penalty box for a one minute non-releasable foul.
"I did not see that coming at all," said Guterding, who scored two goals. "Maybe I held onto it too long. I caught it, I got hit. Definitely rattled, I just couldn't show it, couldn't show that it hurt."
The Trojans let the final seconds of the third play out and capitalized on the man-up opportunity early in the fourth. Dwyer scored to make it 5-3 with 11:40 to go and notched his fourth assist when he found Liam Kennedy (one goal, two assists) on a great crossing pass right after the penalty expired to make it 6-3 with 11:11 to play.
"We have a great man-up team here and once we saw a non-releasable penalty we knew we could take advantage of it and we did," said the Harvard-bound Dwyer, named outstanding offensive player. "We knew our defense had been playing so much defense in this game and we needed to give them a break. We knew that was our chance to make a run."
Gunnar Miller (two goals) cut it to 6-4 with 10:05 to go but Irondequoit (19-3) would not get any closer.
The Eagles jumped to a 2-0 lead before Garden City tied it at 2 late in the first. Irondequoit dominated the second quarter, peppering Marino with 13 shots, eight on goal, during several long possessions, but they could not score.
Nick Doktor (two goals) scored for Irondequoit 15 seconds into the third to regain the lead at 3-2 but Garden City tied it again when Guterding buried a shot off a feed from Dwyer with 9:07 to go in the third.
As the Trojans celebrated with their teammates, friends and families the unflappable Dwyer was for once the slightest bit bewildered.
"I don't even know what to do right now," Dwyer said. "I was just walking around talking to my coaches like 'what do we do?' "
They smiled, took celebratory pictures on the field where they created a memory that will last a lifetime and removed the figurative albatross and runner-up label which has hung from their neck for the past two seasons.