By Michael J. Lewis
The freshman and senior had a bond.
They were locker buddies, Joey Terenzi and Michael Ferrell, and both played lacrosse. Ferrell was the senior, leading a typically-loaded Manhasset team that spring of 2019.
Terenzi was the new kid, a super-talented freshman on varsity learning the ropes. They combined on plenty of goals that year, maybe none bigger than Ferrell’s pass to Terenzi for the game-winner in double overtime against Garden City in the Class B championship game.
But Ferrell and his senior mates fell short of the ultimate goal of any Manhasset lacrosse team: a state championship. So when the season was over, Ferrell pulled aside his protege for a chat.
“He just looked me in the eyes and said ‘Joey, you guys gotta win state,'” Terenzi said Sunday, his memory very clear. “He told me that his class wasn’t able to get it done, but we had to. I told him we’d try.
“I’ve had that conversation stick with me all these years.”
Last Saturday, before a throng of Manhasset fans at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium, Terenzi, wearing Farrell’s old uniform number 4, and his fellow seniors delivered on Farrell’s request.
Following up a dominating 16-5 semifinals win in Albany over Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake earlier in the week, Manhasset cruised to a 13-5 victory over Westhill in the Class C state championship game.
It was the first state title for the powerhouse program since 2010, and in the first season since Michael Ferrell, his brother James, and Ryan Kiess, lacrosse players all, were killed in a car accident last July, the Manhasset kids brought the trophy home.
“We talked about the tragedy a lot at the beginning of the year, and all these kids wanted to win this year for themselves, but also to give something great to the community,” head coach Keith Cromwell said. “We’ve always got great players at Manhasset, but this team was so selfless, and so close-knit, that I thought we had a chance to do something special.”
After a fantastic regular season that saw losses in-state only to fellow powers Cold Spring Harbor and Garden City, the Indians tore through the postseason thanks to a multi-faceted offense led by seniors Terenzi and Matthew Perfetto, and junior Liam Connor, who emerged this season as a force.
Perfetto and Connor, who both were key players on the Manhasset boys basketball team that won a state title in March, combined to score eight goals in the championship game (Connor had five, Perfetto three).
“It’s funny because those of us who were on the basketball team started lacrosse practice a week late, and the first thing (assistant coach Nick) Armstrong said to us was ‘keep doing your thing, keep your mojo going, you winning states is going to help us out here,'” Connor said. “And this team was such a special group of guys, that to accomplish this twice with such amazing teammates, I’m just so fortunate.”
Of course, it wasn’t just the offense that contributed to a state title; faceoff standout (and Duke commitment) junior Cal Girard had a terrific season, as did senior captains on defense Victor Dieso and Patrick Leder.
“Honestly it was just such a fun group to coach, and a lot of these kids I’ve known since grade school when they were playing club lacrosse,” Cromwell said. “Their legacy is stamped forever now.”
With their job done and the long march back to champions completed, Terenzi said he and his teammates could hardly believe it was over as the seconds ticked away Saturday.
“I’m talking to Hunter (Panzik) and Liam late in the fourth quarter and saying like “I can’t believe this is it, there’s no more practice, no next opponent to prepare for,” Terenzi said. “You give your all for this community, for this town we love, and I’m looking at my Dad and my sisters and my uncle and my Grandpa in the stands, and all the people who support us, and the amount of joy they’re going to feel when the whistle blows …
“It’s just incredible.”