Before its first game of the season Wednesday against Syosset, the Garden City boys lacrosse team gathered in close around coach Steve Finnell. “Let’s run all day,” was how the coach finished his pregame talk, and the players responded with roars of approval.
Run all day, as in bring a fast-paced, up-tempo approach. “It’s kind of a change from last year when everything was settled,” defenseman and co-captain Stephen Jahelka said. “We have a fast team this year with [Brian] Fischer, [PJ] Burnside and [Billy] Sweeney, and myself back on longpoles. I think we’re going to run-and-gun it versus the set offenses we had last year.”
Those that followed the Long Island championship-winning Garden City football team this fall know that Jahelka and Fischer were speedy out of the backfield as running backs. On the lacrosse field, imagine them as tailbacks with lacrosse sticks that can jumpstart the transition offense the Trojans desire. You saw glimpses of it on a sunny, blustery season-opening afternoon on Wednesday.
Garden City beat visiting Syosset, 10-5, in non-league behind five assists from sophomore Devin Dwyer, four goals from junior Tom Gordon and a good second-half defensive effort, allowing one goal in the final two quarters.
“It paid off today,” Jahelka said of the up-tempo plans. “It appears to be working.”
The fact that the Trojans are incredibly deep and talented at midfield and defense also helps the cause. The 6-0, 180-pound Fischer and 5-11, 200-pound Jahelka, juniors who plan to play at Harvard, lead a formidable backline. Gordon (19 goals, 6 assists last season), a Johns Hopkins commit, is among several talented midfielders. Patric Berkery (9g, 7a), Matt Montgomery (9g, 5a), Kevin Dachile (8g, 3a) and Jared Mitchell (8g, 4a) are including among the others.
Then there is Dwyer on attack. The 5-7, 130-pound sophomore has a knack for feeding open middies, as you can read here and in Thursday’s paper. He had 29 assists and 23 goals as a freshman and has gotten better in the offseason, Finnell said.
Add it all up, and Garden City, the four-time defending Nassau Class B champs, appears to be worthy of its high national ranking by Inside Lacrosse. The Trojans were preseason No. 7 and are at No. 6 in the latest poll. Before Wednesday, they played well in scrimmages against No. 3 St. Anthony’s (who were without Tom Schreiber because of an ankle injury) and versus Hicksville, a Nassau Class A favorite.
One other note from Wednesday's game: Syosset senior middie Doug Tesoriero, who is headed to Cornell, had a great time on faceoffs, winning 11 of 15.