A four-goal run to start the second half turned a 5-4 advantage for visiting Skaneateles into a 9-4 cushion that the Lakers rode to a 13-8 non-league victory over Homer boys’ lacrosse Monday on George Butts Field.
It was a milestone win for long-time Skaneateles coach Ron Doctor, who was carried off Butts Field by his players after securing his 500th victory.
“I’ve always looked at these milestones as the fact that I have had a lot of great help,” Doctor said. “It’s really a program milestone because I’ve never looked at it as myself. I can’t say enough about the support from the community. Every year it’s another group of great players and my coaching staff, especially David Pittard who has been with me for 30 years. He deserves this as much as me. If you hang around some good things happen. I do appreciate it.”
Skaneateles senior midfielder Pat Hackler scored four goals and handed out one assist as the Lakers improve to 2-0 on the season.
“It was a surreal moment, especially for coach” Hackler said. “Me and John Danforth have been on varsity since eighth grade. We’ve had coach with us all the way and we’ve grown as players with him. His guidance is awesome. It’s a great moment to be on this journey with him.”
Respect for Doctor’s accomplishment came from the Homer sideline as well.
“I am happy for him and congratulations, but I obviously wish it happened on another field against a different opponent,” Trojan coach Tom Cottrell said. “He has been an important person in Section Three lacrosse for a long time. He was the LaFayette coach in the last game I played in high school when we lost to him in sectionals. I’ve known him for a long time and been fortunate to coach against him. He is a great resource and I am equally fortunate enough to be able to pick up the phone and call him if I have any questions and he always helps out. He is a great guy and a good ambassador for the game.”
Homer (1-1) took a 1-0 lead just over a minute into the game when Dylan Yacavone scored his first of five goals with an assist from Connor Matthews. It would be the only lead for the Trojans all night.
Hackler tied the game four minutes later and eighth-grader Grayson Brunelle added his first of three goals 41 seconds after Hackler’s goal for a 2-1 Laker lead that lasted until the end of the quarter.
Both teams scored three goals on the second quarter. Skaneateles took leads of 3-2 and 4-3 after goals by Evan Brunelle and Nick Wamp. Yacavone countered for Homer with a man-up goal to knot the score at 2-2 and his third goal made it a 3-3 game. Yacavone’s second man-up goal of the quarter tied the game at 4-4 with 1:04 left in the half.
With 32.6 seconds left in the half, Brendan Powers put the Lakers in front for good at 5-4.
Two goals by Hackler at the 9:05 and 7:50 marks sandwiched an Evan Brunelle goal to push the Skaneateles advantage to 8-4. Grayson Brunelle capped the run with 5:26 left in the third quarter. Yacavone and Hackler traded goals to make the score 10-5 after three quarters.
“Our basic message at halftime was we thought we could play harder, especially on the ground balls and faceoffs,” Doctor said. “Our guys responded. We do have enough talent on both sides that if we do have the ball we are going to get some shots. Give Homer a lot of credit, they were right there. They didn’t give up, they didn’t quit. It’s always a great ball game down here or wherever we play them. They are tough kids.”
“Homer is a great Class C team,” Hackler said. “We knew that once we found our rhythm we could take that and run. We had some unforced turnovers in the first half and we knew if we cleaned it up in the second half we would get going. We had a couple of nice transition goals and the defense really started playing better. It was a great game on offense, defense and faceoffs. It was a good team effort.”
From the Homer perspective, the four unanswered goals in 1:15 were a big turning point in an otherwise tightly-played contest.
“It’s tough calling a five-goal game a close game, but it was 5-4 at halftime,” Cottrell said. “It really was the third quarter. In the first half we did a lot of really good things. We possessed the ball, we were winning faceoffs and we kept the ball in the offensive end for good opportunities. We did the things we need to do to be successful this season.
“In the third quarter, we had some bad breaks, we had a couple of bad clearing passes and made some mistakes. We missed some ground balls on faceoffs for possession which gave them more offensive time and they pulled away from us.”
In the fourth quarter, the two teams traded goals. Each Brunelle brother scored one goal, as did Ben Spinelli for Skaneateles.
Yacavone and Matthews scored man-up goals for the Trojans and Nate Evans netted one goal for the 13-8 final.
Homer did a good job on faceoffs overall with John Denkenberger winning 16 of 24 chances at the faceoff X.
“Johnny is an outstanding faceoff guy,” Cottrell said. “ He did well last year. He returned this year and is showing why he is one of the best faceoff guys around.”
Another positive for the Trojans was the team going 4-for-8 with the man-up offense. Colin Perks made eight saves in the Homer goal. Quintyn McLeod had seven saves and six goals allowed for Skaneateles. Nathan Squires played the final 4:45 of the game with two saves and two goals allowed for the Lakers.
Homer will face another stiff non-league test Thursday, hosting LaFayette with a varsity-only start time of 7 p.m. on Butts Field.