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Garden City returns to boys lacrosse county final

Garden City attacker Justin Guterding controls the ball

Garden City attacker Justin Guterding controls the ball against Syosset in the Nassau non-league boys lacrosse game. (March 19, 2013) Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Justin Guterding continued his dominance during the Nassau Class B boys lacrosse playoffs, James Sullivan won every faceoff — yes, all 11 — and Ed Blatz shut down Long Beach’s top scorer, J.T. Forkin.

Now, after a 13-3 win over Long Beach in the semifinals on Tuesday, Garden City, the defending state champion, is back in the county final. The Trojans (15-3) will face either Manhasset or North Shore on next Tuesday, 3:30 p.m., at Hofstra for Nassau supremacy.

Guterding, a standout senior attack, had four goals and three assists. He was one of Long Island’s leading scorers during the regular season, yet he’s playing otherworldly this postseason and even he cannot effectively explain how or why.

“Teams have realized we have good players. I’m just trying to make everyone better, which is what my coaches have asked of me,“ said Guterding. “It feels great, but I’m not really sure what’s happening. I just started realizing I need to move off ball more to get open. “

Small changes and realizations, but it’s all working. Guterding had two goals and two assists in a first-round win over Bethpage. He scored five goals with four assists in a quarterfinal victory against Hewlett.

“He’s been phenomenal,” said coach Steve Finnell. “He’s sharing the ball and shooting the ball well.”

The score was tied at 2 after the first quarter and Garden City committed several turnovers during the period, which Guterding attributed to nerves.

When the Trojans relaxed, the turnovers ceased and a barrage of scoring occurred. Cody George had three goals, Kieran Byrnes scored a pair and four others had one.

Long Beach had just one goal after the first. Senior defender Blatz held Long Beach’s Forkin — who averaged four goals per game — to one goal on five shots, according to Finnell.

“Eddie did awesome,” said Guterding. “We slid to him [Forkin] early. We knew if he had one step he could get to four or five real quick.”

The five shots, a relatively low number, was also largely due to Garden City controlling the ball. With Sullivan — “a beast,” according to Guterding — taking faceoffs, the Trojans racked up possessions and controlled the clock until a trip to the county final was clinched.

“It’s not an accident,” Guterding said. “We work just as hard if not harder than any team in the county. I take pride in the fact that we’ve been doubted and we’re back again.”

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