December 5, 2021

Cortland athlete laments lost season

Former Homer lacrosse standout part of Red Dragons’ fast start

Katie Vartanian/contributing photographer

SUNY Cortland sophomore and former Homer High School lacrosse player Dante Yacavone discusses the loss of the Red Dragons’ season and his transition from high school to college sports.

Dante Yacavone was enjoying a strong start to his sophomore season with the SUNY Cortland men’s lacrosse team.

The key word, was. By March 13, the season went went from suspended to canceled due to the uncertainties of COVID-19.

The Red Dragons were off to a 3-1 start while the former Homer Central standout had five goals and four assists. His nine points is second best on the team.

“It was hard at first when the seniors were thinking that they might not be able to come back,” Yacavine said. “There’s nothing we can really do about it. We just have to do the steps necessary to get rid of the virus. This is what we had to do. It really is still heartbreaking for all the guys. We knew that we could do really well in SUNYAC (State University of New York Athletic Conference) and gone farther in the NCAA (Division III) Tournament. We would have been better this year than last year.”

Yacavone had 53 points in his freshman season after scoring 29 goals and handing out 24 assists.

Cortland was 14-5 overall in 2019, losing in the second round of the NCAA Division III Tournament.

“At first, the speed of the game was hard to get used to,” Yacavone said. “Once I got it down, it was a nice transition. All of us Homer guys got it down really quick last year. It’s been going well. It’s great to be out in the community and still be here to play lacrosse. It’s been great to have all the guys here that I have played with before. I really think that helped last year. We would have done well this year, but, of course, it got canceled.”

Yacavone graduated from Homer Central School in 2018, He is tied for the career scoring lead with 267 points on 171 goals and 96 assists. Yacavone shares the record with Carl Zimmerman (2008-2010, 188 goals-79 assists). As much as he had great success as a Trojan. he seems to be adjusting just as well to the college game.

“I like playing at a higher level,” Yacavone said. “The guys out there are very competitive, but it is also a lot cooler. It’s fun to be playing with a bunch of guys who really like lacrosse and want to be there. Lacrosse was the right decision for me. It is the game I have loved since I was very young. I knew this was the choice for me when I left high school.”

Yacavone’s younger brother Dylan is a senior at Homer this spring. The high school season is in limbo right now with a suspension starting on spring practice Monday. the first day of practice. The suspension is until Apr. 14, but who knows if it will be lifted by then.

High school seniors won’t get that extra year of eligibility. Is there any brotherly advice to be handed down?

“It’s really awful for him,” Dante said. “He can’t get his senior season back.. Hopefully, he will still get to play a little bit. It really does suck for him, it is heartbreaking.”

Yacavone played for a veteran coaching staff at Homer with Tom Cotterill and Mark Ferrito. Now he has Red Dragon veteran head coach Steve Beville and a former Homer and Syracuse University standout Matt Cutia, who is the new assistant coach.

“There are some similarities between the two coaching staffs,” Yacavone said. “The offense we run now is similar to what I had in high school, but it is different with the college coaches than it was with the high school coaches. It is a lot more demanding.”

How will Yacavone and his teammates handle this down time without formal practices or games?

“Some guys may come back after spring break even though a lot of our courses will be online (distance) learning,” Yacavone said. “We may try to have some workouts. The captains on the team know that we have to keep working if we are going to be good. We don’t want to do nothing and regress. We will do as much as we can to get better.”

Being a sports athlete with no sports to play or watch, what is a student-athlete to do now?

“It’s hard,” Yacavone chuckled. “I haven’t had a spring off in forever. There is a little school work to do, but I guess it’s a lot of reruns and old games. There’s not much else.”