SHRUB OAK – A couple of kids got bigger. A couple of kids got smaller.
Everyone got better.
Lakeland/Panas again ranks among the best teams in Section 1 after struggling last spring. The Rebels quickly distanced themselves from Mahopac on Thursday, endured a bumpy second half and hanging on for an 11-6 win.
The growing pains are officially a distant memory.
“What’s funny about last year is everybody affiliated with the program knew exactly what we had,” L/P head coach Jim Lindsay said. “We were young. … We were what we were. Everyone else seemed to be shocked by (a 5-11 season).”
The Rebels have won six in a row and go into a weekend game at Shenendehowa with a 7-1 record.
“Last season was not good for the Lakeland/Panas name so this winter we were at it every day, building team chemistry, getting faster and stronger,” senior attackman Kevin Prunty said. “We all want to avenge everything that happened to us last year.”
The chemistry is undeniable.
Joe Cortese got the Rebels going, legging around the right side and letting fly with 10:25 to go in the first. JoJo Janavey went spinning in for the next one and Prunty hammered one in off the goalie.
The Indians had to call a time out to slow the momentum.
Nick Vazquez came up with a trio of faceoff wins and, with 2:01 to play in the quarter, Lakeland/Panas was sitting on a 6-0 lead.
The ball movement was textbook.
“We knew we couldn’t come out sluggish like we have in the past, not against a team like Mahopac, so we came out firing and, luckily, we got a lot of early goals to give us some momentum,” Prunty said.
Drew Thomson stretched the lead in the opening minutes of the second quarter before Andrew Evans finally scored to end the demoralizing run.
Mahopac is just 3-6, but has been able to compete for stretches.
“We definitely need one quality win to get us going,” Indians midfielder Dan Foley said. “We’ve been in just about every game, so I think we’ll get there. Our spurts of greatness have been very short. We’ll play well for three minutes, and the next five, we’ll be lacking.”
Mahopac got within 10-6 in the final minute of the third quarter, but Rebels goalie Kevin Dyckman came up with two interceptions and one stop in the middle of the fourth quarter to end the comeback there.
Player of the game: Prunty is living up to the family name. He showed off a power overhand shot, finishing with three goals and four assists.
Turning point: Andrew Evans ranks among the best players in Section 1 at the faceoff, but Vazquez, who’s moved back to close defense this season and faces off with a pole, went 5-2 against the Mahopac standout in the first quarter to help the Rebels build a substantial lead.
Stat line: Evans won 10 of 14 faceoffs after the opening quarter. … Tommy Murray had two goals and one assist for Mahopac. … Dyckman finished with 14 saves. … Thompson added two goals for L/P and Cortese had one goal and three assists.
Quotable: “They play together a lot,” Lindsay said of his team’s chemistry and willingness to share the ball. “I don’t have a Christian Donahoe or a Foley who can just man-child you and go to the goal. It’s like anything else in the classroom. The kids need to understand why are we doing this and once they understand why they’ll buy into it.”