WATERTOWN — Brian Navarra has been encouraging his team to play with more urgency and after a slow start Tuesday night, his players responded.
Shaking off a sluggish beginning to the game and after trailing for most of the night, the Cyclones generated a strong second half and outlasted General Brown to record a 13-11 victory in a showdown for first place in the Frontier League in boys lacrosse.
“A complete tale of two halves,” Navarra said. “Obviously we played a great game with West Genny the other day and we played with such urgency and we were fearless and that was the message coming into the game, is we need to continue that. But that didn’t happen in the first half, General Brown is so aggressive and physical on every ground ball and loose ball, they killed us on that in the first half and that was completely the difference. ... But we responded well in the second half.”
Jack Clough and Jack Adams each generated three goals and two assists to spark a balanced attack, and goalie Patrick Duah made 14 saves for Watertown, which improves to 9-2, including a perfect 7-0 in league play.
“It’s amazing, knowing that we came out very flat to start the game,” Clough said. “And we scored only two goals in the first half and finishing the second half with (nine) goals really propelled us to win this game today.”
“It feels great, it feels surreal,” said Watertown’s Kyan Combs, who scored two goals, including the go-ahead tally late in the game. “We battled in the second half, the first half was ugly, but I’m glad we lit a fire under us and got to finish it out.”
But it was General Brown that controlled the tempo in the first half, forging a 6-2 lead by halftime and went on to lead by as many as five goals in the third quarter, leading 9-4 advantage on a goal from Gabe Malcolm.
“Offensively, we were struggling in the first half, so we came out made some adjustments in the second half,” Navarra said. “ ... just going with a spread offense and it started with Jack Rathbun just kind of beating his man topside and getting to the goal and that got us some momentum and our guys got some confidence.”
But the Cyclones began to break through with a three-goal run to close the third quarter on a goal from Rathbun and back-to-back tallies from Jack Adams to draw within 9-7, with the last goal of the period coming in a man-up situation.
“We can’t stop looking around for somebody to give us a reason, we have to step up to the plate and we have to figure it out ourselves,” Clough said.
After Sheamus Devine opened the scoring in the final quarter for a 10-7 Lions’ advantage, Mick O’Donnell, Clough and Nico Spaziani each scored a goal to tie the game and Clough would follow with the go-ahead goal at 11-10 with 6 minutes and 4 seconds left in regulation, scoring a man-up goal by converting on a nifty pass from behind the net from Adams.
“It was great, Jack Adams stepped up a lot this game, moving his feet, putting the ball in the back of the net and he was a big part of us winning this game again,” Clough said.
General Brown would tie the game on Carter Hunt’s goal with 5:06 left, but Combs followed with the deciding goal with 4:01 to play and Clough provided Watertown with the final two-goal edge with 1:44 left, as he scored after spinning his way around the left side of the goal.
“We just wanted to see smarter shots,” Combs said, “When we play as a team, when we take smarter shots and get better looks, that’s how we win games.”
Duah made eight of his saves in the second half, to help finish off the win for Watertown. Duah wound up outdueling General Brown goalie Luke Secreti, who finished with 15 saves, also making eight stops after halftime.
“It’s always tough when you play Watertown, they’re a good team,” General Brown coach Andrew Derouin said. “We’ve had a good rivalry with these guys the last couple years and we knew they were going to go on a run in the second half and they did and we answered. But then we started getting some penalties that didn’t help us out.”
With the win Watertown has now secured the inside track to securing another league championship.
The Cyclones are gunning for their fourth consecutive title and also avenged an 11-8 late-season loss to General Brown last season.
“I think it was just our morale, like talking to each other like ‘how do we want to be remembered in 20 years?’” Combs said. “And the guys, our seniors, we just really wanted this game.”
On Tuesday, Devine generated three goals and two assists for General Brown (5-5, 5-2) and Hunt contributed three goals.
Also for the Lions, Ethan McConnell contributed two goals and an assist, Malcolm scored a pair of goals and Julian St. Croix recorded three assists.
“That’s the story of our season,” Derouin said. “We can hang with anybody we want to ... This one hurts, but we’ll be all right as a team.”
General Brown, which will competes in Class D come sectional time, has also played some tough nonleague competition so far this season, including a one-goal loss to Cicero-North Syracuse back on April 1 and also a defeat to Section 2’s Shenendehowa on April 12, with both losses coming to Class A schools.
Watertown was also coming off a 16-15 home loss to West Genesee, which is ranked No. 14 in the state in Class B, on Saturday after the Cyclones led heading into the fourth quarter.
“We saw our potential in that game, we fought hard and we know how we can play, so we want to be like that every game and every quarter,” Combs said of the West Genesee game.
With Tuesday’s bounce-back win, the Cyclones also held on to the No. 1 seeding in Class B in Section 3.
“We have to take from this that we have to play the way we played in the second half the whole game,” Clough said. “We want to win sectional games and be a sectional champ.”
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.