The tears in the eyes of an inconsolable Alex Schutz told the story.
The Lansing senior midfielder had come to the boys soccer final four for the third consecutive year and again fell short, this time 1-0 to the Friends Academy in the Class C state championship at Faller Field in Middletown through rain and mist.
The only goal came with 20:23 remaining. Off a Patrick Moodhe throw-in from the corner, senior captain Jonathan Nierenberg rose above Jake Palladino to head the ball past goalkeeper Bryce Stanhope from three yards out.
“It sucks that we lost this game,” Palladino said. “This is the best season I’ve ever had. Going to the final four the past three years; I wanted it. I wanted to win it for coach this year, and for us.”
Palladino, who has been playing since October with a badly strained hamstring, played the entire 80 minutes. His effort was typical of the Bobcats (19-2), and something 18-year coach Adam Heck has come to expect.
“The effort was great,” Heck said. “Both teams fought to the end. From a standpoint of two good teams battling it out, I thought they led the first 20 minutes and then we put a lot of pressure on them. They had that one weapon you really can’t prepare for, consistently that long throw. Ultimately that is what won it for them.”
Heck was speaking of Moodhe’s throwing ability. The senior took almost every throw for the Quakers (15-1-2) and put it into the 18-yard box with regularity, causing chaos in front of Stanhope.
Friends Academy took home its third state title in school history after winning back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010.
After being pinned in its own end for the first 40 minutes, Lansing began to take control. For the majority of the next 25 minutes, the Bobcats had multiple chances to score. With 33 minutes left, captain Jason Yahn had a golden opportunity on a header inside the box but missed wide by no more than a yard.
Yahn also had the last true close call for Lansing. With under 12 minutes remaining and down a goal, Yahn attempted to loop the ball over goalkeeper Brandon Rosenbaum’s head, who was 15 yards out of his net. The shot tantalized the Bobcats fans, landing on top of the crossbar.
“He would come out real far and I got one,” Yahn said. “It was a flick off one of our goal kicks and I had a chance.”
Rosenbaum ended up earning the shutout, making three saves.
For some, the loss was especially difficult. Seniors Jason Yahn, Andy Parkes, Palladino and have been to the final four in each of the past three seasons.
In the past two seasons, it was Port Jefferson who knocked off the Bobcats, first in the semifinals and then in the championship game last year.
“It’s sad. I really don’t want to leave,” Palladino said. “These guys are all my brothers, and I wish I could have more moments with them.”
Despite the loss, Heck was prideful.
“From the beginning of the year we didn’t expect to do what we did,” Heck said. “It feels good, it always feels great getting here. We just can’t get through Long Island.”