Finding an upside after an 11-goal loss to an important opponent is difficult.
The Nassau CC men's lacrosse squad found itself in that very predicament Saturday following a 17-6 defeat to perennial power Onondaga CC at Mitchel Athletic Complex.
No. 1 Onondaga (9-0) tore through the second-ranked Lions' defense early in the contest and led 13-2 at the break. But Nassau (9-2) regrouped at halftime and played Onondaga to a 4-4 draw in the second half.
"We know we can play with them when we bring our A game," said sophomore attack Glen Tompkins, who scored Nassau's third goal. "The way we played in the second half, it's extra motivation to come in every day and get better at practice. If we get another shot at them, we're not going to back down."
If Nassau gets another chance to play the Lazers, which won't happen until the NJCAA Final Four, it won't be an easy task.
Onondaga entered the game averaging 28.9 goals a game and had outscored its previous four opponents, 127-4. That's not a misprint.
Onondaga, from Syracuse, has become a dominant force, has won five of the last six NJCAA championships and is now 9-2 against Nassau since 2006.
Randy Staats had six goals and Jordan Saunderson three goals for the Lazers.
Freshman midfielder John Brandofino led Nassau with two goals. Tim Daly, Matt Tompkins and John Tompkins also scored once for the Lions.
"We just came out a little slow and we needed to see how they played," Brandofino said. "Now we know for next time."
Brandofino's belief in his team has merit, especially since Nassau is the only team to come within 11 goals of Onondaga and the only squad to hold the Lazers to fewer than 20 goals.
But Nassau still has some work to do if there is to be a next time. The Lions still have four regular-season games left and must win the Region XV and District II titles to advance to the NJCAA Final Four, which it will host.
Nassau coach George Powers is hopeful his team uses the loss as a rallying point and keeps its focus the rest of the way.
Said Powers: "There are no moral victories, but I told the kids we need to build on the fact that we played them to a 4-4 tie in the second half."