NEW YORK – A string of timely plays at both ends of the field gave Iona Prep hope in the final minutes and the extraordinary individual efforts of Isaac Newland and Herschel Halesworth gave the Gaels a CHSAA title.
That makes three in a row.
Newland sparked a furious comeback with two goals in short order and Halesworth delivered the winner Thursday with 1:04 to play in a wild 7-6 win over Fordham Prep in the CHSAA AA City Championship game at Murphy Field.
“It was all guts and guile,” Iona Prep coach Rick Trizano said.
The Gaels did not play well early on, but kept on grinding and correcting mistakes on the fly.
Colin Trimble gave the Rams a 6-4 lead in the fourth quarter, raising the noise level on the home sideline. Newland started the closing run, scoring with 3:11 to go with a powerful lefty rip.
He scored the next one a minute later, spinning back to the left hand before shooting from his knees.
“We play around practice all the time,” Newland said. “I play against Tim Powell and Zach Kryza and I end up doing stuff like that, getting creative. When you play against the best, you have to learn.”
He looked up just in time and saw the ball go in.
“Well, you know, I go to Catholic school, so I prayed a little bit,” Newland added. “Once I saw it hit net I was so excited.”
Laurence Gerace won the faceoff, and the Gaels showed impressive restraint working the ball around for a high-percentage shot. Halesworth got the ball in a favorite spot, used the quick feet to create space and tucked a goal into the upper left corner.
From there it was a matter of killing the clock.
“Oh, man,” Halesworth said. “The defender slid upfield on me so I split right to left went underneath, faked high and shot low. Honestly, I don’t even remember where it went. Unbelievable.”
Fordham Prep isn’t done. Both teams play in the Archdiocesan Tournament and will be facing the Long Island finalists this weekend.
“With all the injury problems we’ve had, guys have put in so much work in practice so this is great for us,” Halesworth said. “I know we have the talent to do it, so we just have to work with what we have.”
Player of the game: There is no comeback without the handiwork of Gerace, who came up with five timely wins at the faceoff X in the fourth quarter despite not having Kryza available to play on the wing.
Turning point: Fordham Prep long pole Colin Malarchuk scrambled end to end for a short-handed goal with 9:34 to play that gave the Rams a 5-3 lead and revved up the home crowd across the way, but Halesworth slipped inside the defense a short time later and quickly made it a one-possession game. Iona Prep was solid on defense, too, in the second half, only surrendering a pair of goals.
Stat line: Jack Cassella had two goals and one assist to lead Fordham Prep. Danny McCabe and Andrew Abbitista also scored for the Rams. … Halesworth scored three times for the Gaels. Jake Heffernan and Max Persico also netted goals for Iona Prep.
Quotable: “Herschel and Isaac just mentally willed themselves and carried the offense at the end,” Trizano said. “Isaac’s second goal, did you see it? He literally said, ‘I am scoring and nobody is stopping me.’ ”