Defense still wins championships. The old adage lives on at Cold Spring Harbor.
Led by Caden O’Connor, the defense consistently wins ground ball battles, forces turnovers and hits hard. Carsen Kirchner stands in net, rarely allowing shots to pass him.
“We always focus on the little things and being really disciplined and being aggressive,” O’Connor said. “But also [we focus on] being smart, knowing the second slide, so we’ll never be caught lacking or unprepared.”
Cold Spring Harbor defeated Mattituck/Greenport/Southold, 8-2, in the Long Island Class D boys lacrosse championship game at Stony Brook University’s LaValle Stadium on Saturday.
The Seahawks (12-6) captured their second straight Long Island championship and sixth total. They will play in the semifinals on Wednesday either at University of Albany or Tompkins Cortland Community College, looking to repeat as NYSPHSAA Class D champions.
“Just focus on this game, don’t look ahead of it even as close as we are [to repeating as state champions],” Kirchner said. “That’s all we really got to focus on. Every playoff game is exciting, so it’s just great to play in each one.”
Kirchner made six saves and allowed just one goal as the backbone of the strong, yet “boring” defense, according to head coach Dennis Bonn. James Grego replaced Kirchner in the fourth quarter and made one save.
Bonn, who is also the defensive coach, was pleased with the team’s effort in the low-scoring game.
“We’re a blue collar, boring lacrosse [team],” Bonn said. “... I want to play defense. When we were up 5-0, even 3-0, I was happy. Some people will be like ‘Oh we’re not scoring enough’ or whatever, but I’m happy with that.
“I feel Carsen played really well,” Bonn added. “I don’t think we gave up many easy shots, and that’s the key.”
While O’Connor led the defense with five ground balls and three checks, the unit was collectively excellent in keeping Mattituck (7-11) off the board.
Likewise, there wasn’t one standout player on the Seahawks’ offense. Nine different players tallied at least one point.
Roy Testa and Hayden Calabretta each scored two goals, and Sam Bruno tallied two assists. Alex Bauer, Matt Donaldson, Reagan Reilly and Brady McKean each scored one goal, and CJ Reilly (Regan's brother) and Ryan McGloin had an assist each.
“If you share the sugar, the defense starts to say, ‘What do you want me to do,” Bonn said. “I think if you just move the ball and take the best opportunity — whoever it is — good things happen.”
Testa scored the first goal, which he said excited his teammates and helped take away some of the big game jitters.
“We definitely have more relaxation, especially knowing that we have a great goalie in there and a great defense locking down,” Testa said. “And then we’re all set from there. Offense, we were winning our matchups, doing great there. So, we dominated the game, I felt.”
Bauer led the Seahawks with nine shots, and McKean and Calabretta each had five. Bonn was happy with his team totaling 33 shots but wished more found the back of the net.
“I think we can improve in shooting,” Bonn said. “... I think I was disappointed with two shots all day. Everything else was a good shot. Two bad shots this game. I’ll take all those shots. I’d just like the back of the net to move a little bit more because it makes life a lot easier. It gives you a chance to breathe a little bit.”
Andrew McKenzie made 14 saves for Mattituck. Lex Horton and Sean Lawson each scored a goal.
O’Connor, a senior, is looking forward to the NYSPHSAA Class D semifinals. With the team’s potent defense and generous offense, he deems the Seahawks as “unstoppable.”
“Our defense is super disciplined,” O’Connor said. “Carsen was doing a great job not only saving the ball, but getting it out and pushing transition. Whenever we do that and we capitalize, I don’t think there are many teams that can hang [with] us.”