Blue Devils were in control from the start, cruising past Yorktown for a 9-3 win on Saturday to clinch the Class B state championship
PITTSFORD — It just doesn’t seem to matter for the Victor Blue Devils.
Put them in Class A or Class B. Play the championship game in Broome County, Orange County or Monroe County.
No matter where you put them, the field is going to be littered with Victor lacrosse gear when the final horn sounds. That was the scene on Saturday at St. John Fisher College after the Victor boys cruised past Yorktown, 9-3, to win their third straight state championship.
“We just had to keep doing what we’ve been doing,” said junior attackman Sam Lambert, who had one goal and two assists. “We go with the thinking that we don’t lose in sectionals, or at states.”
It’s hard to argue with that. The Blue Devils (19-3) won their first state championship in 2015 as a Class B team in Vestal, then beat Ward Melville last spring for the Class A title in Middletown. Back in Class B this season because of new classification definitions by the state, Victor trailed early on Saturday, then scored seven straight goals.
By any definition, that’s a commanding lead. But more than the quantity of goals, it was the way in which Victor scored that set the early tone.
On the run, in transition, against the man-to-man, or from the seams in a zone defense. The Blue Devils cashed in against a variety of looks, which can also be interpreted as the Blue Devils scored goals any way they wanted to.
The scoring for the game started with Jamison Embury at 8:11 of the first quarter to give Yorktown (17-5) a 1-0 lead. But that was Yorktown’s only goal until there was 5:43 left in the third and between that, six different players scored for Victor.
Meanwhile, the Victor defense was doing Victor things.
Junior goalie Chayse Ierlan was on point from the get-go, making a couple of key saves before Embury’s goal. But Yorktown was limited to just six shots in the rest of the half, and Ierlan was credited with four saves.
“Our defense has been solid all season,” said Ierlan, who finished with six saves. “They gave me early shots to see … They didn’t have too many far-out shots. I made the saves I should have and probably stole a couple, too.”
So not only were the Yorktown shooters growing more and more frustrated, the defense was being picked apart by the Victor offense. Mitchell Cain’s unassisted goal made it a 1-1 game and goals from Alexander Mabbett and Anthony Pezzimenti gave the Blue Devils a 3-1 lead heading into the second quarter.
In the second, though, the scoring parade continued. Zach Estabrooks, Mabbett, Sam Lambert and Connor Keenan all scored to give Victor a 7-1 lead at the half.
“There was a 10-minute span where they took it to us,” Yorktown coach Sean Carney said, referring to the end of the first quarter and into the second. “We were getting good looks and getting decent shots, but their goalie was making saves … then they go down and score and it was a bit of a rolling ball there for about 10 minutes.”
It was a plan that worked to perfection for Victor.
“We wanted to slow the ball down,” said Cain, a junior attackman. “It’s hot out here today and we didn’t want our defense playing too much defense.”
Instead, it was Yorktown that found itself playing a lot of defense.
Man to man?
“We ran by them,” said Cain.
“We picked that apart,” said Cain.
Indeed, it didn’t seem to matter what the Cornhuskers were doing. They struggled to slow down the Blue Devils and even though they caught a breath of air with back-to-back goals from Justin Comerford and Hunter Embury late in the third, it didn’t last long.
Keenan’s second goal of the game gave the Blue Devils an 8-3 lead and the only goal of the fourth quarter was Joey Pezzimenti’s extra-man goal at 3:50.
“I believe in the kids,” coach Jim Andre said. “And they believed they can do it, and they pulled it off. Three in a row, it’s really special.”
For the fourth straight game, the Blue Devils held an opponent to five goals or fewer. And to say the defense was impressive is an understatement. It was downright entertaining to watch.
Directed by Ierlan’s voice from the cage, Tanner Hay, Mike Novitsky and Matt Gardner were crisp and sharp. The helped force 17 Yorktown turnovers and led an effort that had 26 ground balls to Yorktown’s 20.
“I go against the defense every day in practice and I can’t get an inch,” said Lambert.
And for the 19th time this season, it all came together for the Blue Devils at the time it needed to the most. And now, the Blue Devils are in elite company when it come to New York lacrosse.
Victor is just the third team in state history to win three straight titles. Yorktown did it in Class B from 1991 to 1993 and West Genesee has done it twice, winning three from 1981 to 1983 and four straight from 2002 to 2005.
“It’s awesome,” said Cain. “I fell so good for all the seniors that came back and did for the people who said we couldn’t.”
“This is something else,” said Ierlan, shaking his head in amazement. “A lot of athletes don’t get to experience this at all and we’ve done it three times.”