Three days after Yorktown suffered a stinging loss in the state championship game, Liam Donnelly was back on the field, geared up, stick in hand, getting ready to play at the next level.
It’s called absolute dedication.
Donnelly was all in every moment of a scholastic career that began when injuries forced the Huskers to bring up an undersized eighth-grader to play goalie.
It wasn’t long before he became an institution.
“Liam was obviously naturally talented, but he’s worked really hard at it, too,” Yorktown coach Dave Marr said. “The last five years he’s had the lacrosse stick in his hand most of the time and you can see it on the field.”
How many Huskers in the history of Section 1’s most successful program have been a part of five consecutive sectional titles?
It’s a ridiculously short list.
“Playing for Yorktown has been an incredible experience,” said Donnelly, who is headed for Rutgers later this summer. “I don’t take anything for granted. I’m so thankful for all of my teammates, all of my coaches. I wouldn’t trade anything that happened over the last five years. I’ve loved Yorktown lacrosse my whole life and to have my own little piece of history is incredible. I’m thankful I got the opportunity.”
If there’s one player who did everything he needed to do for the Huskers during a surprise run to the NYSPHSAA Class B final, it was Donnelly, who is the Journal News Player of the Year for Westchester and Putnam.
“Looking back on the season, it’s humbling to get the awards, but that’s on my team,” he said. “We pushed each other every single day, the defense, the offense. All of the individual awards, they go back to the team.”
The sentiment isn’t surprising and it’s not part of a script.
Donnelly was always quick to credit the defense no matter how many dramatic saves he was forced to make, claiming teammates only allowed shots they knew he could stop.
“Having the experience of being on the varsity team for almost five years, that inspired a lot of respect from his teammates,” Marr said. “And the way he works, they see his effort, so it’s kind of hard not to follow the guy. Liam’s heart was in it 100 percent. There wasn’t any false bravado, it’s just, ‘We have to get it done. This is what we have to do. We have to do it together.’ And he led the way.”
Donnelly was an easy All-America pick, saving 62.7 percent of the shots he faced.
His best game of the season came in a humbling 12-3 loss to Darien, Connecticut, a nationally ranked team with frightening talent. It would’ve been an ugly loss if not for his 16 saves.
Rivals in and outside Section 1 took immediate notice.
“I treated it just like any other game,” Donnelly said. “I don’t like to make it a personal thing, but I kind of knew I had to stand on my head for us to have a chance. It’s not really a good feeling. I would rather have an off- game and win. I’m fine with that.”
The next step is getting ready for the college game.
Donnelly is playing in the Sound Shore league with other Yorktown alumni on Husked Corn. He’s back at Charlie Murphy Field on a daily basis, facing old teammates intent on scoring.
“I’m honestly not sure how college-ready I am,” he said. “I went to one Rutgers practice and saw the level of talent. I’m working every day so when I get there it’s not too big of a step for me and I’m ready to play.”
2016 Journal News Boys Lacrosse All-Stars
A – Brendan Johnson, White Plains, Sr. (Siena)
A – Ara Atayan, Bronxville, Jr. (North Carolina)
A – Brian Reda, Pleasantville, So. (Fairfield)
M – Eric Greenberg, Mamaroneck, Sr. (Lehigh)
M – Cullen Morgan, Fox Lane, Sr. (Georgetown)
M – Kyle Casey, Yorktown, Jr. (Albany)
D – Zach Kryza, Iona Prep, Sr. (Villanova)
D – Jack Drillock, Pleasantville, Sr. (Siena)
D – Brett Makar, Yorktown, So. (Maryland)
G – Liam Donnelly, Yorktown, Sr. (Rutgers)
LSM – Jose Boyer, Yorktown, Jr. (Notre Dame)
FO – Nick Vazquez, Lakeland/Panas, Sr. (Hartford)
Coach of the year – Rob Anderson, Briarcliff
A – Kevin Prunty, Lakeland, Sr. (Siena)
A – Keaton McCann, Briarcliff, Jr. (undecided)
A – Will Cabrera, Scarsdale, Sr. (Yale)
M – Matt Lupinacci, John Jay, Sr. (Colgate)
M – Max Persico, Iona Prep, So. (Bryant)
M – Matt Magnan, Fox Lane, So. (Syracuse)
D – Jake Murphy, John Jay, Sr.
D – Tyler Makar, Yorktown, Sr. (St. Joseph’s)
D – Thor Adamec (John Jay) So. (Colgate)
G – Graham Goldheim, Briarcliff, Sr. (Union)
LSM – Aidan Hynes, Mahopac, Sr. (Yale)
FO – Andrew Evans, Mahopac, Sr. (Marist)
Davis Allen, Pelham, Jr., M; Anthony Altimari, Yorktown, Jr., FO; John Arcidiacono, Eastchester, Sr., MF; Andrew Babyak, Bronxville, So., D; Kevin Blank, Brewster, Sr., M; Theo Bresolin, Rye, Sr., D; Austin Burns, White Plains, Jr., LSM; Jack Cassella, Fordham Prep, Sr., M; Justin Cavallo, Yorktown, Jr., A; Ralph Chrappa, Bronxville, Sr., FO; Gianni Ciffone, Stepinac, Sr., A; Chris Conley, Mamaroneck, Sr., A; Christain Donahoe, Mahopac, Sr., M; Jamison Embury, Yorktown, So., A; Emmett Fay, Mamaroneck, Jr., A; Dan Foley, Mahopac, Sr., M; Kevin Gallagher, Putnam Valley, Sr., M; Elliot Graham, Scarsdale, Sr., M; Herschel Halesworth, Iona Prep, So., A; Will Hynson, Rye, Jr., A; JoJo Janavey, Lakeland/Panas, So., A; Shahe Katchadurian, John Jay, So., G; Hunter Keech, John Jay, Sr., MF; Evan Kieltyka, Somers, Jr., D; Ryan Kirkpatrick, Rye, Jr., A; Andrew Lowman, Somers, Jr., M; Jack Marschke, John Jay, Sr., LSM; Thomas Marra, Fordham Prep, So., A; Charlie McAllister, Iona Prep, Sr., G; Declan McDermott, Pleasantville, So., M; Matt McLaughlin, Harrison, Jr., A; Sean New, Fox Lane, Sr., D; Isaac Newland, Iona Prep, Jr., A; Matt Nichauls, Pelham, Sr., M; Daniel O’Rourke, Mamaroneck, Jr., D; John Plimpton, Briarcliff, Sr., A; Jackson Rieger, John Jay, So., A; Sam Roth, Croton, Sr., M; Anthony Sardo, Westlake, Sr., A; Mike Smith, Hen Hud, Sr., M; Alex Souza, Kennedy, Sr., A; C.J. Stier, Fordham Prep, Jr., M; Alston Tarry, Bronxville, So., M; Thomas Tenney, Fox Lane, Jr., A.