Don't tell Cody George this is supposed to be a rebuilding year for Garden City boys lacrosse.
The senior attack scored four goals including the winner with 2:39 left in the third overtime off an assist from Kieran Byrnes yesterday as host Garden City defeated Massapequa, the defending Class A Nassau champion, 6-5, in a thrilling non-league match.
It was just last week that the Trojans were held to one goal in a loss against Smithtown West. It was the first time Garden City, winner of two straight state titles in Class B, was held to a single goal at home since 1955, according to Garden City statistician Jack White.
"This win means so much because a lot of people were doubting us since we lost some really good offensive players," George said. "They said we are going to be a rebuilding team this year and not prosper like we did last year, but we want to prove everyone wrong."
Both teams had multiple chances to score during the first two overtime periods, but both goalies consistently made tremendous stops. Dan Dolan finished with nine saves for Garden City (2-2) and Matt Valdini recorded seven for the Chiefs (2-2). The defensive units for both squads were impressive, too. Massapequa's Nick Capuana and Nick Balzano forced a slew of passes to go awry and disrupted scoring opportunities after regulation.
Until, finally, George found the back of the net.
"During the third overtime, they were running a zone," George said. "Kieran battled through an amazing double-team and just threw it up to me and I just shot it."
George scored a goal from close range, also assisted by Byrnes, to tie it at 5 with 35.8 seconds left in regulation.
Massapequa scored four straight, including three goals in the fourth quarter, to take a 5-4 advantage. Jack Korber capped the run and gave the Chiefs their only lead with a blast from 15 yards with 4:25 left in regulation.
James Sullivan scored twice for Garden City and Massapequa's Jim Byrnes had two goals and two assists.
The majority of the game, however, was dominated by defense and ball possession. Thomas Wright led an exceptional Garden City defensive effort, diligently defending Craig Berge, who many consider to be Long Island's top midfielder.
"Berge is an amazing player, he really is," Wright said. "He's good at everything so you try to pick things here and there to take away from him."
While the defensive work of Wright along with the strengths of Cullen Minion and Matt Borges, the explosive scoring ability of George could make this "rebuilding year" a rewarding one.
"After the Smithtown West game, we were kind of kicked into shape," George said. "We had brutal practices this week. Our offense was a little slow to start the season, but we got there and this is a good sign."