You could say Steven Schneider is Woodstick-obsessed.
“I started coming to this game when I was 7 years old. It was my dream to play in it,” the senior midfielder said of the Woodstick Classic, which annually matches Manhasset and Garden City in the oldest continuous boys high school lacrosse rivalry in the country, dating to 1935.
Schneider had already fulfilled that dream, taking part in both games last year. But the experience was unfulfilling because Garden City won both contests. Schneider helped rewrite the script this time.
He scored four goals Saturday night to lead host Manhasset to a 10-8 victory before an overflow crowd that witnessed a duel of Nassau B-I unbeaten powers. The Indians improved to 6-0 while the Trojans, who got four goals from Luke Keating, fell to 6-1.
“After we lost to them both times last year, I watched video of those games every few days,” Schneider said. “I wanted to see what we could’ve done better.”
What the Indians did better this year was get the ball more to Schneider, win the majority of faceoffs thanks to freshman Marc Psyllos, and play solid defense in front of keeper Brendan Haggerty, who excelled with 11 saves.
Schneider scored twice in an up-and-down first quarter that ended with Psyllos winning a faceoff and setting up his older brother John for a goal with 5.3 seconds left for a 5-2 lead.
The margin increased to 7-3 at halftime, with Schneider showing off his speed by taking a pass on the run as he came off the bench, and finishing with an dynamic over-the-top blast with 1:52 left.
The Trojans, as expected, made a run, cutting the deficit to 8-6 on goals 49 seconds apart in the third quarter by Keating and J.P. Basile. But defenseman Edward Arnold scored in transition on an assist from Kevin Mack (one goal, two assists) with 1:46 left in the third.
Schneider provided a four-goal lead with some football-style broken-field running. He bounced off a couple of checks near midfield, ran over a defender and scored with 7:01 left. He fell to the turf immediately after the goal, and left the game with what he said were cramps in both calves on a warm, humid night. He did not return, but insisted he could have and would have if needed.
“He was bugging me to go back in,” first-year Manhasset coach Keith Cromwell said. “He’s a ball of energy out there and he’s so athletic. He’s playing with a lot of confidence.”
Cromwell got his own welcome to his first Woodstick Classic. As he was conducting postgame interviews, he was doused with a huge bucket of ice water carried by a couple of overjoyed Indians.
The game always provides chills as well as thrills.