Ryan Lukacovic, who was that rare breed of sophomore playing on the Chaminade varsity back in 2011, has remarkable composure to go along with superior skills. But the kid almost lost his cool Thursday night. "I was freaking out with 30 seconds to go," the Virginia-bound attack said.
That's because Lukacovic and 25 other Chaminade seniors finally were busting the ghosts. They were about to beat rival St. Anthony's in the Class AAA NSCHSAA championship game for the first time in their careers.
"The past two years definitely hurt," said Lukacovic, referring to the 2011 and 2012 seasons, when the Flyers won both regular-season meetings only to see St. Anthony's win the finale to capture the crown.
Chaminade also won both games this season, and its players didn't even want to think about a three-peat scenario.
Instead, the Flyers made it a clean sweep over St. Anthony's with a 7-5 victory at Hofstra's Shuart Stadium that brought them their first title since 2008. Because there are only two AAA teams in New York, they also are credited with a state championship.
"This is one of the best things that has ever happened to me," Lukacovic said.
He helped the process with a goal and four assists. Brian Pratt scored three goals and goalie Dan Fowler, voted game MVP, made 10 saves, including a couple of beauties in one-on-one situations that were huge.
"I can't think of a better way to end my career. It's a great way to cap my career," Fowler said. He is headed for Duke, where his brother Brendan is a faceoff specialist for the Blue Devils, who are in the Final Four this weekend in Philadelphia.
Chaminade (15-3) had to overcome a 2-0 deficit built on goals by Dylan Molloy. But the Flyers scored five straight goals, three off Lukacovic feeds, to go ahead 5-2 early in the third quarter.
St. Anthony's (14-5) showed its grit when J.T. Caputo and Andrew Custance scored 90 seconds apart to make it 5-4. Then Lukacovic picked the perfect time for his only goal, scoring from the left crease with 3:43 left in the third. He fed Carney Mahon for Chaminade's third extra-man goal and a 7-4 lead with 6:46 left.
"Our defense played great," Fowler said. "I'm set up pretty well behind those guys."
Chaminade's defense features three major Division I prospects, Brian Dunne (Duke), Tim Muller (Maryland) and Jack Carrigan (Loyola).
"Those guys" formed quite a wall all season, and especially Thursday night, scooping ground balls, forcing turnovers and keeping the Friars' shots on goal at a safe distance.
"We go out there thinking we should shut people down," Muller said. "It showed tonight. It definitely feels great. When the horn sounded, I turned around and ran straight to Danny."
The two were able to get in one embrace before a pileup ensued, with sticks and helmets flying into the air.
Blaring from the loudspeakers was -- what else? -- Queen's "We Are the Champions."
Chaminade had waited a long time to hear it.