Weekly Feature

2017-05-17 / Sports

Boys lacrosse squad opens week with win over perennial power OP


Clarence’s boys lacrosse team secured one of its rare — but recently more frequent — wins over Orchard Park on May 9, rallying from a 6-3 deficit early in the third quarter to post a 9-8 victory that should only help the Red Devils’ seeding for the upcoming playoffs.

Seven different players scored on the day for the Red Devils, who fought Orchard Park tooth and nail throughout the contest. Orchard Park managed to lead Clarence by a goal at the end of each quarter in the first half, and reclaimed its one-goal lead one last time, at 7-6, after the Red Devils rallied to knot the game at 6-6.

Clarence continued to push the pace down the stretch, taking an 8-7 lead that lasted just a few minutes before Orchard Park tied it at 8-8. The Red Devils then netted what would be the game winner with around 2:30 to play in regulation before holding strong down the stretch to secure the victory. Andy Avarello came up with one of the bigger of his 18 saves on the day in that final 2:30 to help lock down the win.

“Orchard Park certainly threatened at the end of the game, but we did a good job of keeping them outside so that their threats from the perimeter weren’t really that effective,” coach Charley Warkenthien said. “The kids came out to play in our biggest game of the year, and they produced in a good, hard-fought game. Andy in particular played probably his best game of the season, coming up with several solid saves.”

Jake Bowman and Kyle Harsch led the way on the day with two goals each for Clarence, while Angelo Camillieri (two assists), Matt Zaffram, Matt Addinino, Matt Wright and Dom Basile each added a goal for the victors, who did struggle a bit in the faceoff “X” on the day.

“We didn’t do too well on faceoffs, winning just three of 21, but we made up for it by winning the ground ball battle,” Warkenthien said. “Good defense and ground balls gave us enough possessions to get enough shots to get enough goals to win the game. Faceoffs are something we’ll have to work on in the event we match up with them again, though. But this was a big win for the kids because, for most of them, it was probably the first time they ever beat Orchard Park in their careers. I just don’t want them to get too high too fast off a big win like this one.”

It didn’t look like Clarence was headed for a letdown two days later when it got out to 5-0 lead early in its clash with West Seneca West, but the Indians refused to go away and made things interesting before ultimately dropping a 10-6 decision to the Red Devils.

Clarence was able to maintain a healthy lead throughout the game, enjoying both an 8-3 and 10-4 advantage, but West never backed off in its pursuit of the upset.

“We just were very low emotions early on in taking what was a sloppy 3-0 lead, but fortunately our talent was enough to overcome our lackluster play because, to West’s credit, they fought, they hustled, and they stormed back,” Warken- thien said. “West didn’t really threaten us per se, but us going through the motions while they were hustling let them make things interesting. Fortunately our defense cracked down, especially in the third quarter, which allowed the game to turn a little more decisively in our favor.”

Harsch led the way for Clarence on the day with three goals, while both Zaffram and Colin Heim added two goals each for the Red Devils, who coasted to a 13-4 Senior Day win over Cathedral Prep on Saturday to close out their week.

Clarence persevered on an afternoon in which it committed an uncharacteristic number of penalties, using a 4-0 run over the second quarter to take an 8-3 lead into the second half. The Red Devils gave up their only goal of the second half in the third quarter before cruising to the win in the final stanza.

“We were just a little sloppy defensively, and the types of penalties we were taking told me we weren’t playing with our feet but just being lazy,” Warken- thien said. “It’s something we certainly don’t want to continue, because if we’re taking that many penalties against Orchard Park or Lancaster, we might not even be in those games.”

Wright led the way for Clarence with four goals, while Cam Lock chipped in with two goals. Heim (3 assists), Brett Naylor (7 ground balls) and Ryan Armon each added one goal, while Avarello turned aside 16 shots to earn the win in net for Clarence, which enters the final week of the regular season at 10-4 overall, giving the Red Devils two times the wins they had last season.

Clarence was faced with another tough challenge Monday when it traveled to Canisius, but information about that contest was not available at press time. The Red Devils will close out their regular season Thursday by hosting Akron.

“We’ve got a tough week of what should be competitive non-league games this week to tune up for the playoffs,” Warkenthien said. “Both teams we’re playing have offensive talent, so we’re going to want to work on a lot of things on both sides of the ball, actually, to tune things up for playoffs. We’ll keep working on our conditioning too, because depth is going to be a big thing now that the temperatures are warming up.”

Thursday’s regular-season finale will also serve as those teams’ joint fundraiser night, with the proceeds this year to benefit the Buffalo State College chapter of the Best Buddies program. Offerings at the game will include baked goods, a 50-50 raffle and the chance to win a hand-made wooden lacrosse stick.

Best Buddies is a program that works to enrich the lives of youth and adults with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities by bonding them together in friendship. Best Buddies participants do a variety of activities together.

For more information about the Best Buddies program, send email to bestbuddies bsc@gmail.com, or visit www.exceptionaleducation.buffalostate.edu/best-buddies.

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

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