In his pregame pep talk before the state Class C boys lacrosse championship game, Cold Spring Harbor coach Dennis Bonn had a good hook.
“I told them that only seven teams had more than two state championships. If you can get the next one to get to three in program history, you separate yourself. You are in elite company,” Bonn said.
And that’s exactly where Cold Spring Harbor is now. The Seahawks routed Penn Yan, 15-4, on June 11 to make it back-to-back state titles to go along with the one they captured in 2006. They joined Ward Melville, West Islip, West Genesee, Yorktown, Garden City, Manhasset and Jamesville-Dewitt as schools with at least three state titles.
Acting athletic director Jim Amen had driven up the trophy CSH won last year, but gleefully placed it on the team bus for the trip home.
Presumably, the trophy was shared among the players the same way the team shared the ball in an offense that featured six 20-goal scorers. “High-powered,” Bonn said in a classic understatement about a team that averaged nearly 16 goals a game. The Seahawks lost once, to Locust Valley, 10-9, and reversed that emphatically in the county finals with a 17-9 victory.
“It’s pick your poison,” Bonn said of the offense.
Most venomous was Virginia-bound junior attack Ian Laviano, whose 82 points (with 38 goals) was fifth best in Nassau County. His linemates were junior Will Reed (20 goals) and sophomore Kevin Winkoff (32 goals) who scored 14 goals in five postseason games.
However, the team’s real strength was at midfield where Cornell-bound junior Matt Licciardi was a whiz at faceoff ‘X’ and contributed 20 goals and 33 assists. Loyola-bound senior Riley Cox (42 goals) and Fairfield-bound junior Taylor Strough (52 goals) were dangerous shooters from all angles.
With six scoring threats, the Seahawks’ offense was poetry in motion. “It’s so much fun playing with that many great guys,” said Laviano, who had four goals in the state championship game. “When the ball swings, it’s impossible to stop us.”
The swinging usually started after Licciardi won the faceoff and started the ball-movement that characterized the CSH blueprint. “When the ball is moving, you see the defense turning their heads,” said Licciardi, who scored two goals with three assists against Penn Yan. “It’s fun to be part of.”
Despite breezing through the regular season and early playoff rounds, the Seahawks didn’t have much fun in the Long Island championship, surviving against gritty Babylon, 8-5, in their lowest-scoring game, and outlasting talented Pleasantville, 12-10, in the state semifinals. Strough, a sniper with a hard, accurate shot from the wing, scored four goals against Pleasantville with Licciardi adding three plus two assists.
Those tight games, like the loss to Locust Valley, gave Bonn the teaching moments necessary to refocus on the prize. “We had a huge ‘x’ on our backs all season after winning the state championship last year,” Licciardi said. “It says a lot that we did it again.”
For Bonn, it was all about the hardware that rode the bus home from Middletown. “It’s a big, beautiful trophy,” he said.
And with five of the six top scorers returning, Bonn has a hook for next season: Make room on the bus back from Rochester.
ROAD TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP
Nassau Class C playoffs
Locust Valley, 17-9
Long Island final
Penn Yan, 15-4