Manhasset boys lacrosse defeats Garden City but falls in Nassau County final

Manhasset boys lacrosse defeats Garden City but falls in Nassau County final
Manhasset junior attack Daniel Kolin (23 in orange) looks for an opening while Garden City's Matt Kephart (32) tries to defend during the Nassau Class C semifinal on May 21 at Hofstra. Photo credit: Michael J. Lewis

There was elation.

So much elation that it felt like a championship game.

On May 21, the two-time defending state champion Manhasset boys lacrosse team enjoyed the kind of victory it is known for.

In a titanic battle with fellow defending state champion Garden City (we’ll explain in a minute how they could both be defending state champs), the proud Manhasset program avenged an earlier Trojans drubbing and won, 6-5, in a Class B semifinal.

As expected, the game came down to the final seconds. With a minute to go, Manhasset was nursing a 6-4 lead, holding the ball and seemingly able to run out the clock. But a turnover led to a quick strike by Garden City, and suddenly, it was 6-5, and a faceoff win went to the Trojans.

A timeout was called, and Manhasset coach Keith Cromwell tried to settle his troops down.

“We have total confidence in our defense, especially how great they were playing today,” said junior attack Daniel Kolin. “So everyone just focused on making one more stop.”

The stop came, but wow, was it tense. A rifle shot from Garden City’s James Ullrich hit the post behind keeper Matthew Im with 18 seconds left, then Im had to make one more big save on Garden City’s Charlie Koester with four ticks left before Manhasset could celebrate as it advanced to the May 23 title game against South Side.

Against the Cyclones, the top seed, Manhasset surged ahead 5-2 in the second quarter, but South Side rallied and eked out a 12-10 win for its first county crown since 2004.

Manhasset was dethroned, but not before putting up a heck of a fight and earning a signature win in the semis.

This was no normal semifinal win at Shuart Stadium on Hofstra’s campus. This was such an atypical year for Manhasset; it suffered six regular-season losses, endured injuries to key players like Kolin, and came into the Class B playoffs as a No. 3 seed.

But when it counted, Manhasset came through. An early 3-0 deficit six minutes into the game stunned the underdogs and knocked them back on their heels.

“We were just slow to react and not doing what we were supposed to be doing,” said senior All-American defender Jack Mulholland. “We started slow a lot this year, then settled in and played our game.”

That game meant a stifling defense that allowed just one more goal over the next 2.5 quarters while the Manhasset offense settled in.

And it meant Im playing his usual spectacular brand of goalkeeping in net; the three-year varsity starter, headed to the University of Tampa next season, was so good on low shots and made nine saves, including the final one that preserved the win.

Kolin scored three goals, while Mikey Mondiello, Conor Sheerin and Tommy Leder each added one, as Manhasset first tied, then surged past Garden City in the third quarter.

“It’s been a long year, a very unusual year, and nothing’s been easy,” Crowell said. “So I’m just so happy for our kids to see their hard work pay off.”

Both programs are steeped in accolades; Garden City entered 2024, owning nine state titles and 19 Long Island Championships, while Manhasset owned six state crowns and 16 LICs.

A change in the classification system moved Manhasset into Class B with the Trojans this year, and Long Island lacrosse fans knew these two teams were on a collision course as soon as the season started, as only one would be able to be called “state champs.”

Manhasset (11-6) and Garden City (15-2) had their annual Woodstick Classic game on April 20 and the Trojans emerged with a 7-2 win.

“We wanted them again, 100 percent, after that game,” Mulholland said. “We knew that we could play a lot better and do a lot of different things if we played them again.”

After the huge win over Garden City, Manhasset had to come back and face powerful South Side two days later. The Cylcones, looking for their first county title in 20 years, fell behind 5-2, as Conor Sheerin (four goals on the day) powered the Manhasset offense.

South Side rallied to lead by two at halftime, but then, with the score tied at 8 in the third quarter, they pushed ahead with three goals to go up 11-8.

Manhasset cut the deficit to two after a Patrick Arnold goal, but could not quite close the gap again.

“We had our possessions and had our chances, we were right where I thought we needed to be,” Cromwell said. “But we played a ton of defense, our guys were getting a lot of pressure. We were chasing the game and just couldn’t quite get over the hump.”

Still, with a lot of young talent on this 2024 team, it sure seems like Manhasset can get back to its usual perch atop the county soon.

“Our seniors put so much sweat into the program, to help win two state championships and get our program back to where we want it to be,” Cromwell said. “So proud of all of these guys.”

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