Its been a while since a Port Washington boys lacrosse team advanced to a Nassau Class A final.
Yeah, I think it was before I was born, said freshman goalie Nick Ferrero.
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The Vikings are the only team out of the six vying for a Nassau title on Tuesday that has not appeared in a championship game at least once in the past three seasons. Port Washingtons hiatus stretches 14 years. Players such as defender Jesse Kaplan said school alumni, including former players, have stopped to congratulate them around town for making it this far.
Yet by no means is the team on some improbable Cinderella story.
Port Washington won 10 games in the regular season.
Port Washington earned the No. 3 seed in Class A.
Port Washington defeated second-seeded Syosset, last years Nassau Class A champion, last week in a semifinal game.
And Port Washington is led by one of the best high school attackers in the country, senior John Crawley, who believes the run wont end in Tuesday nights Class A final game at 7:30 at Hofstra against top-seeded Massapequa (14-2).
We can absolutely pull another one off, Crawley said. Weve had a good week of preparation. They are definitely a tough challenge but Im so confident in our team.
Crawley, full of zest and emphatic about what he believes his teams chances are at winning, is fully aware a championship victory is no cinch.
Massapequa which happens to be the team that beat Port Washington in the teams most recent final appearance in 1999 has displayed no weaknesses. The Chiefs are on a seven-game winning streak, outscoring opponents 100-48 during that span. One of those wins came at the expense of Port Washington, a lopsided 16-6 affair on May 8.
Jim Byrnes had eight goals and one assist in the win.
We let in a lot of crease goals, Crawley said. Some of our poles contained some of their best players like Ian Kirby and Craig Berge. They really didnt have that much of an effect. But we put too much focus on them rather than Byrnes. They have so many weapons, thats why its so hard.
Its almost impossible. Paul Bentz, Berge and Byrnes totaled almost 200 points during the regular season. Paul Dilena scored more than 30 goals, and Kirby had 25.
Massapequa can score from the outside, and a lot can come down to Ferreros ability to make key stops. And not many on Port Washingtons roster doubt that he will.
Hes unbelievable, said Kaplan about the young goalie. I think hes the best goalie in the country. I started with him last year and this year his potential keeps getting higher. The sky is the limit for him.
The Vikings have improved in other areas that may help give them a chance, including clearing and faceoffs. Joey Froccaro, who takes faceoffs for Port Washington, said hes up for the challenge against Massapequas Joe DeMarco.
Ive been taking more faceoffs this week and I feel confident, he said. Im not content with just making the finals.
After Port Washington defeated the former champion last week, coach Tom Rooney instituted a 24-hour rule. He permitted his team to soak in the victory for one day. Since then, the focus has not waned from the ultimate goal. Unlike two years ago, when Massapequa eliminated the Vikings in a semifinal game, the Port Washington players said they arent fully satisfied.
Were passed the happy to be there stage," Kaplan said, "and were looking to bring a county championship back to Port Washington."