Signage in Garden City High School’s maroon and gray colors, attached to a fence adjacent to Warren King Field, lists the championship years of its boys lacrosse team. It’s a staggering testimony to the winning tradition of the defending state Class B champion Trojans, holders of seven state championships, 19 Long Island titles and 25 Nassau County crowns.
As if all of that doesn’t make a big enough statement, consider what Garden City did on Thursday.
The non-league clash between Shoreham-Wading River and Garden City, two powerhouses that entered the game with 9-0 records, was expected to be a battle. Garden City is ranked No. 1 among Class B teams in the state while SWR is positioned second in the Class C poll by the New York State Sportswriters Association.
Before the game, Garden City coach Steve Finnell was asked how good his team is this year.
“We’re going to find out,” he answered.
Judging by its performance Thursday, Garden City is exceptionally good. The Trojans used a 10-0 run — holding SWR scoreless for 35 minutes, 48 seconds! — to roll over the Wildcats, 12-5.
“They have talent,” said Trevor Kessel, part of a besieged SWR defense along with Jake Wilson, Jake Meeker, Tyler Schwartz and goalie Liam Daly. “They have a good program, and they always have.”
Will Puccio produced four goals, James Basile had two goals and two assists and Trevor Yeboah-Kodie added two goals and an assist for Garden City, which received 12 saves from Eric Mueller.
Also finding the net for Garden City were Brady Sullivan, Joe Scattareggia (one goal, two assists), Gavin Pappas and Nick Rosato. Jack Muldoon had two assists.
“They just move the ball really well,” said Daly, who made 13 saves. “They were really organized and they just took advantage of all of our mistakes when they happened. Whenever you play Garden City, you know that they’re going to have good shooters. You just got to go and always be prepared. They have some good kids.”
It was a promising beginning for SWR when Xavier Arline scored a flashy goal off a feed from Gavin Gregorek just 14 seconds into the contest. After Puccio equalized, SWR went in front again, this time on a strike by Schwartz, also assisted by Gregorek.
But Sullivan drew the teams even at 2-2 at 5:50 of the quarter. That was the start of the incredible 10-0 run. SWR didn’t score again until Arline pumped in his second goal 7:26 into the fourth quarter, with the outcome long since all but decided.
Garden City’s defense was like a wall.
“I knew getting off the bus what I was in for,” SWR coach Michael Taylor said. “Steve runs a great program and I knew it was going to be a battle for us and a good gauge for our kids to show how much more they need to work. We got to work harder; we got to get better.”
An illegal check to the head by Wilson not only cost SWR a penalty in the second quarter, but it may have fired up Garden City.
“I think that was a momentum swing for them,” Taylor said. “I think it kind of woke the sleeping giant … I thought we had momentum, then we took a bad penalty and I think they got angry about it.”
Brett Callagy brought SWR two goals in the final 3:32 (one set up by Declan Beran).
SWR suffered a loss within the loss. Junior midfielder Jack Erb exited the game in the second quarter with an injury. Taylor said Erb had strained his Achilles tendon.
Kessel said the way the game played out “shocked us, but it showed us what we need to work on.”
Garden City had also defeated SWR in a non-leaguer last year on the same field.
“When you say lacrosse anywhere in this country, Garden City is going to be in the conversation as far as history and tradition,” Taylor said. “I try to play teams that we’re going to really struggle with. I want to use non-leagues as preparation for the playoffs.”
Before boarding the team bus for the ride home, Daly could look at the bright side. “You can always take away something from a game like this,” he said. “We just got to keep playing our game. We’re a really good team and if we just play our game, we’ll be fine.”
Said Taylor: “It’s good for us to play a team like this … We need to get these experiences so that when we get in the big moments that count, we’re ready. Today we were not.”
Photo caption: Shoreham-Wading River’s Jeffrey Lachenmeyer tries to evade Garden City’s Connor Gunn during Thursday’s non-league game. (Credit: Bob Liepa)