Jack Cascadden #21 of Garden City, second from left, gets...

Jack Cascadden #21 of Garden City, second from left, gets congratulated by teammates after scoring a goal off a faceoff win in the third quarter of the NYSPHSAA boys lacrosse Class B state championship against Canandaigua Academy at Shuart Stadium on Saturday, June 11, 2022. Credit: James Escher

When you’re a program with the history and tradition of the Garden City boys lacrosse team, you expect to play a tough schedule every year.

But after a few big non-league wins early in the season, the Trojans knew they faced an extra-daunting task during a two-week stretch in April that featured games against Mount Sinai, Cold Spring Harbor and rival Manhasset.

“The idea is to challenge the team and play teams at your level or better,” Garden City coach Steve Finnell said.

After dropping the first two games to Cold Spring Harbor and Mount Sinai, the Trojans knew they would need to bounce back. Those two words became a theme for the team, including a few individual players.

Garden City prevailed in a memorable overtime win on April 30 against Manhasset in one of the country's most storied boys lacrosse rivalries. From there, the team never looked back.

By the time June rolled around Garden City was back in the familiar confines of Hofstra, capping a 13-game winning streak with an 8-1 win over Canandaigua Academy to win the program's eight state title.

“The Manhasset game really kind of helped us put it all together,” Finnell said. “We really played at a high level after that.”

Garden City's tough, grind-it-out mentality was on full display throughout its run. Brendan Staub led the defensive effort and Jack Cascadden won faceoffs and provided the offense with plenty of opportunities to score.

It was then on players like midfielders Jack Archer and Luke Schmitt to take control. Both were standout football players like Staub and Cascadden and both battled injuries throughout the last year. Still, they never let it get in the way of winning a championship.

“Luke Schmitt is one of the best leaders I’ve seen in football and lacrosse in the last couple of decades,” Finnell said. “He was our leader on offense and he was also the quarterback of the football team and he led both vocally and through his play.” 

Schmitt had 32 goals and 18 assists for the season. That included two goals and two assists in the win over Manhasset and two goals and an assist in the state semifinal win over Rye.

“He was banged up but played through several injuries that many other people might not have,” Finnell said. “He showed a great amount of toughness and resilience and he sucked it up for everybody else.”

Finnell said Archer tore his ACL during the spring football season in 2021 but was able to make it back to play in the fall, starring at cornerback.

And his recovery this season was on full display as he led the team with 29 assists and was second with 34 goals.

Leading goal scorer Jay Ottomanelli, who had 37, also suffered an injury that kept him out of the Long Island championship game but didn’t stop him from scoring a goal in the state final.

For Garden City it was a total team effort and buy-in mentality that led the team back to the championship level.

“Everybody knows about Staub and Cascadden,” Finnell said. “But we had a lot of very talented players that might not have been household names.”

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