Before making history, there was mystery. Before the noise, there was silence.
Cold Spring Harbor’s quest for an unprecedented three-peat as state champion was acknowledged at the first team meeting and then became a taboo topic until the playoffs began.
“We knew there was an opportunity at the beginning of the year that this could happen, but that’s March. It’s a long way,” Seahawks coach Dennis Bonn said. “Once we got to the playoffs, though, it was on the minds of everybody, especially the 14 seniors, and we began a tradition of tearing off the days on the calendar every time we won a game.”
The calendar-shredding didn’t end until Cold Spring Harbor rallied from a 5-1 deficit to defeat five-time state champion Jamesville-DeWitt, 11-9, for its third consecutive state Class C title June 10 in Rochester and conclude a 21-0 season on a 28-game winning streak.
No Long Island boys lacrosse team had ever won three in a row.
“There’s a lot of pressure when you win two state championships in a row,” midfielder Matt Licciardi said. “Everybody says you’re the favorite to win a third, and everybody likes to look ahead to the state championship.”
Especially when you breeze through your league and sprinkle in non-league victories over Class A powers Smithtown West and Syosset. “But Coach didn’t bring it up until we got to the playoffs,” Licciardi said. “Then you just go out there and leave everything on the field. If you play your heart out and the other team has more goals, that’s just the way it is.”
Jamesville-DeWitt had more goals early, but Licciardi wasn’t worried once Cold Spring Harbor had trimmed the deficit to 5-4 at halftime. “That was the worst half of lacrosse we’ve ever played in our lives,’’ he said, “and we were only down by one goal.”
Sure enough, the high-scoring senior troika of Licciardi (Nassau’s leader in assists), Ian Laviano (Nassau’s leader in points and goals) and Taylor Strough (Nassau’s second-leading goal scorer) took over as CSH scored five straight goals and was in control by the fourth quarter. Its defense, led by Dylan and Hunter Guarneri and goalie Chris Porzelt, also excelled in shutting down the high-powered Red Rams’ offense.
Bonn said he expected a tough playoff road because Jamesville-DeWitt and Suffolk champ Shoreham-Wading River both had excelled in Class B before dropping down a class, and state semifinalist Pleasantville had a stellar season. “We knew the last three games were going to be a gauntlet,’’ Bonn said. “It sure turned out that way.”
Winning the LIC wasn’t so tough, as the Seahawks easily defeated SWR, 16-7, led by Strough (four goals, two assists) and hat tricks from Laviano and Will Reed. The state semifinal at Adelphi, however, was a true test. The Seahawks overcame an early deficit to triumph, 9-6, thanks to a three-goal performance by Kevin Winkoff.
“Our motto has always been, ‘Take care of the little thing.’ There’s no four-goal shot,” Bonn said, referencing the deficit against Jamesville-DeWitt. “Next faceoff, next ground ball, next goal, whatever it may be. One at a time.”
In Cold Spring Harbor’s case, it was next championship. It was a big thing.
SEAHAWKS’ road to the championship
Nassau C playoffs
Wheatley-Carle Place, 17-5
North Shore, 15-8
Long Island Championship
Shoreham-Wading River, 16-7