Defense is never, ever an afterthought at Garden City.
“Before the game, our coach told us, ‘It’s a privilege to play defense for Garden City,’” the Trojans’ top defender, Colin Hart said of defensive coach Joe Jacovina’s pre-game pep talk. “I love playing defense.”
So while Hart, a junior, might be enjoying playing the glamorous quarterback position for Garden City’s 2017 Long Island Championship football team, he also is perfectly happy to play occasionally anonymous defense for the lacrosse team that Saturday cruised to the Long Island Class B title with a 12-3 victory over Harborfields at Hofstra.
Hart, with help from his teammates he was quick to add, held the Tornadoes’ high-scoring P.J. Clementi (96 points) to one assist. Four Trojans scored two goals each — Liam Muldoon, Joe Scattereggia, Kyle Steinbach and Will Puccio. Muldoon added three assists and Scattereggia had one helper for GC (16-3) which will face John Jay Cross River on Wednesday at 4 p.m. at Adelphi in the downstate semifinal.
“Our defensive effort was outstanding,” said Garden City coach Steve Finnell, who won his 200th game and sixth Long Island Championship in his 12th season. “Colin did a great job on Clementi, who is a great player. And our goalie, Teddy Dolan, did an outstanding job in the clearing game.”
Dolan made nine saves and helped trigger several transition goals for Garden City. “I think we wore them down at the end,” Finnell said. “It was a hot day and we had a little more depth.”
Garden City put this one away early, scoring the first five goals. After Harborfields cut it to 5-2 on Jimmy Bifulco’s long bounce shot early in the third quarter, the Trojans scored the next six goals.
One of them was a ready-for-TV highlight. James Basile made a no-look, over-the-shoulder shot into the far corner of the net while falling down with 7:25 left in the third. That made it 8-2.
How dominant were the Trojans? They outshot the Tornadoes 46-19, won 33 of 45 ground balls and Justin Coppola won 13 of 18 faceoffs.
“Fundamentally, we go over everything in practice three times, not just once,” Hart said. “During the game, it’s all about communication. Everyone knows where to be and what to do. It’s never about one guy.”
Hart said the team’s emphasis on conditioning paid off in the heat. “It was definitely hot, but I’m always pushing myself,” he said. “I was prepared for a day like today.”
So was Finnell. “It’s just a coincidence that my 200th was a championship game,” he said. “But I’m fortunate to have a great group of seniors that pulled us through.”