PITTSFORD, N.Y. - A brilliant game, a big lead and his own reputation as a master of his craft could be sullied with one mistake. But James Sullivan was equal to the task. The sophomore was Garden City's 'X' factor.
Sullivan won 18 of 25 faceoffs to earn defensive MVP honors in the Trojans' 13-8 victory Saturday over Jamesville-Dewitt that brought his team a second consecutive Class B state title.
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None of those draws was more important than the one that took place with 5:20 remaining in the game after the explosive Red Raiders had clawed back to within 11-7.
One more possession and a quick goal would have made things far more interesting than Garden City wanted.
"I knew that it could be a turning point," Sullivan said. He eschewed his favorite pinch-and-pop tactic at the 'X' that often results in clean faceoff wins and a fastbreak opportunity, and went to the safer clamp-and-pullback. He scooped the loose ball and on the ensuing possession, Dale Stasco scored to give the Trojans a five-goal lead with 4:38 that proved to be safe.
"If I win the faceoff and we score, we put them away," said Sullivan, who has been the Trojans' faceoff specialist since he was an eighth grader.
The X-files were an important component of yesterday's game because every faceoff win kept the ball out of the hands of a Jamesville-DeWitt offense that had been averaging 18 goals per game. Sullivan said he likes to vary his technique, "depending on how they line up."
He noted that simply winning the draw isn't enough. "You've got to finish and get some goals and that's what we did," Sullivan said. The Trojans overcame a scoreless first quarter and 2-0 deficit to tie it at 3 at halftime as Sullivan won all five draws in the second period. He then won the first six of the third quarter when Garden City went on a 6-0 game-turning run.
Jamesville-Dewitt's offense did not have a single possession for more than seven minutes. They had no answer for the X-man.