Chenango Forks overcame a sluggish third period to capture the Section 4 Class C boys lacrosse championship with an 11-10 victory over Maine-Endwell on Thursday at Vestal High’s Dick Hoover Stadium.
The Blue Devils (13-5) move on to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association playoffs, where they will face the Section 3 Class C champ at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Cicero-North Syracuse High.
Chenango Forks took advantage of some man-ups late in the game to maintain ball possession.
The Spartans had a final opportunity in the waning seconds after a Forks turnover, but junior defenseman Alex Freije took the ball back for the Blue Devils, allowing them to run out the clock.
“We stuck to our team defense,” Chenango Forks coach Dave Pavlick said.
Maine-Endwell took a 9-8 lead into the fourth quarter by outscoring Chenango Forks 3-0 in the third.
Spartans senior midfielder Justin Miller, who finished with a game-high five goals, scored two of them in a one-minute span of the third to at first tie the game at 8-all and then put his team in front.
The Blue Devils regrouped in the fourth, tying it at 9-9 on Jack Sherwood’s third goal of the match with 6 minutes, 44 seconds to play.
Thirty-eight seconds later, senior captain Logan Hall gave Chenango Forks the lead, converting in close from the left of the net as he was knocked to the turf.
“I saw it coming,” he said of the knockdown. “It was pretty physical, but we kept our composure.”
The Blue Devils grabbed a two-goal lead with 5:53 remaining when Brandon Dutcher snapped one in on a breakaway.
Maine-Endwell, as it did all game, kept coming back and drew to within one on Miller’s fifth goal with 3:07 left to play.
“It was a game of transition. We had opportunities,” Spartans coach Andy Ewing said.
To go with Sherwood’s hat trick, the Blue Devils got two goals each from Hall and Ryan Bronson. Along with Dutcher, James Pattwell, Cody Lamond and Jake Gaworecki contributed one apiece.
Forks junior goalie Matt Swagler made 11 saves, with 10 of them coming in the first half as he repeatedly stopped the Spartans on point-blank attempts.
“Our goalie had a great first half,” Pavlick said.
Connor O’Brian and Vincent Vultaggio collected two goals apiece for Maine-Endwell (14-4). Tyler Thompson had one, while Justin Kopansky dished off three assists.
Tyler DeSario turned away seven shots for the Spartans.
Miller got Maine-Endwell on the board first 30 seconds into the match.
After two more minutes, Chenango Forks needed just 57 seconds to score the next three goals, two of them by Bronson.
The Spartans responded by tying it at 3-all before Chenango Forks put together another three-goal run from late in the first to early in the second periods.
Maine-Endwell cut the deficit to 6-5 and stayed close enough to set up its third-period burst.
Hall and Pavlick were confident the Blue Devils would get back on track.
“I told them to keep up the good work,” Hall said to his teammates.
Pavlick’s take: “I told them it was up to them. They had to reach down deep, and they proved it.”
Meanwhile, Maine-Endwell fell in the Class C final for the second year in a row, losing by the same 11-10 score to Johnson City a season ago.
Ewing said the Spartans will just keep trying to get better.
“We’re looking to next year,” he said. “We have a strong corps back.”