For a while on Saturday it looked like the Garden City boys lacrosse team might have met its match in the state Class B championship game.
Not just in the game, as the Trojans held just a one goal lead early in the third quarter, but in substance and style, as Canandaigua Academy matched the slow-it-down, grind-it-out pace that has become synonymous with Garden City lacrosse.
But Canandaigua doesn’t have a Jack Cascadden, the high level faceoff man that helps make the Garden City team go.
Not only did Cascadden win 9 of 13 faceoffs, but he also contributed his second multi-goal game of the year and added an assist as Garden City pulled away to win its eighth state title in program history with an 8-1 win at Hofstra.
“Coach Finnell was telling me throughout the week that I should be ready to (play in transition),” Cascadden said. “It’s something I’ve prepared for all year and it just so happened to be today in the state championship game and it helped the team. I’m always ready to contribute in any situation.”
Garden City (19-2) scored the first two goals of the game, both by Jack Archer, midway through the first quarter. Canandaigua’s Dominic Willamee drew his team within one later in the quarter but those were the only goals in the first half.
“We said they’re kind of like us with a good defense and they’re deliberate,” defenseman Brendan Staub said. “We had to be confident that even if the game was close we had to play our game and not get too high or low based on the moment.”
Cascadden scored just over two minutes into the second half and then assisted on Archer’s third goal 2:29 later. Cascadden scored again seven seconds later and Henry Gibbons made it 6-1 just 46 seconds after that.
“We knew we had to get out ahead or else we’d be in trouble,” coach Steve Finnell said. “We didn’t want to get into a 3-2, 4-3 game and when we got out to the lead in the third quarter we felt pretty good.”
Canandaigua was never able to get into any type of a rhythm thanks to a lack of possession and a relentless defensive group led by Staub and Cole Webber that forced turnovers and disrupted their flow all game.
“They're unreal,” Cascadden said. “The work they do is amazing, the whole group. It’s really not one or two guys but it’s the whole unit. They held us in so many games this year and they performed today. They’re a top caliber defense and they can really put on a show.”
Garden City allowed only one team to score in double digits against them this season, a 12-11 victory over rival Manhasset back in April.
“There’s a long line of GC defenseman and it says alot about this program that a lot of the good athletes want to play defense,” Staub said. “It’s a selfless position and you don’t get the glory but everyone bought in and it’s a testament to our coaching as well. Coach Jacovina is as good of a defensive coach as you can get. It’s an honor to be a part of it.”
Staub and Cascadden will move on to play their college lacrosse at Cornell next year but they’ll both be remembered as stalwarts in a program filled with history.
“Brendan is one of the best Garden City has ever had, period,” Finnell said. “... He’s the smartest and most tenacious kid on the field. He’s pretty rare.”
It was a fitting way to end the season with a championship won off a great defensive effort.
“Going out in a Garden City way was the only way to go out,” Cascadden said. “It was the way I had it in my mind and fortunately it happened today. It’s the best feeling ever.”
By Gene Morris