By Michael J. Lewis
It’s not quite accurate to say that Manhasset lacrosse senior Joey Terenzi thought about Mount Sinai’s team every day for the past year.
But, you know, it was pretty regularly, at least a few times a week.
That’s what happens when another school spoils your dreams. In the 2021 Long Island Class C championship game Mount Sinai scored with 12 seconds left to squeak past Manhasset.
For 12 months, the Indians players like Terenzi stewed.
“It’s been circled on the calendar for a long time because we were so close last year and everybody knew it,” said Terenzi, who’ll play at powerhouse University of Virginia next year. “We didn’t talk about it as a team too much, but everyone felt it. Even the guys on the sidelines last year who didn’t play as much, they all felt the hurt and we knew we wanted to get back here.”
It’s fair to say that the motivation for revenge proved highly effective. Thanks to a dominant fourth-quarter performance, Manhasset blew past the previously-unbeaten Mount Sinai squad, 12-7 on June 4 at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium.
And Saturday at 5:30 at Hofstra, Manhasset will play for a state championship.
After Mount Sinai cut the Indians’ edge to 8-7 with 11:11 to go in the game, Manhasset put on a ball-control clinic that would’ve made legendary UNC basketball coach Dean Smith and his “Four Corners” delay offense proud.
Manhasset held the ball for the next 8:47, an enormous amount of time in lacrosse, and scored four times in the process.
“I didn’t realize it was that long, but all credit to the boys,” said Manhasset coach Keith Cromwell. “They were extremely disciplined and very patient. “We thought with the amount of possession time we had, it was putting a lot of pressure on them (Mount Sinai), mentally and physically; those defenders were on the field a lot and I think we wore them down a bit.”
To say the least. And while Terenzi, ranked the No.3 senior high school player by Inside Lacrosee Magazine, shone with a goal and two assists, he got a ton of help from others.
Matt Perfetto had two goals and two assists, Liam Connor chipped in three goals, and Jack Petersen, a reserve last season, exploded for three goals and two assists.
“A lot of us, like Jack, have to wait on the bench when we’re younger here because there are so many good players ahead of us,” Perfetto said. “But you work as hard as you can and try to get better and eventually you get a chance to play. And he was awesome (Saturday), so proud of that guy!”
“He’s been unbelievable,” Cromwell said of Peterson. “He’s an extremely athletic kid. I give a lot of credit to him and the other juniors this year, for working and having a great attitude when they weren’t playing much.
For the Manhasset players, the job isn’t done yet. With the Long Island championship in hand, the team is now chasing its first state title since the school won back-to-back crowns in 2009 and ’10.
The team took another huge step in that direction Wednesday night. In a Class C state semifinal game at University at Albany, against Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, Manhasset made sure there would be very little drama.
The Indians completely annihilated their upstate opponents, racing out to leads of 5-1 at the end of 1 and a 10-2 halftime lead, and never getting threatened in a 16-5 win.
As usual there was a surfeit of offensive heroes for Manhasset, with Perfetto (four goals), Petersen (four goals) and Terenzi (one goal, six assists) leading the way.
“We came out strong early, our offensive guys got to great spots on the field, and it was so much fun to see our kids play this well,” Cromwell said by phone from Albany Wednesday night. “The last couple of weeks the kids have been playing so well and tonight everything was clicking.”
Now Manhasset will play the state title game much closer to home, Saturday at 5:30 back at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium against Westhill, a Section III school from Syracuse, who had an equally-smooth 11-3 semifinal win. Manhasset will be going for the school’s fifth state title in boys lacrosse.
“We’re so excited to be here, on our home turf at Hofstra going for the title,” Cromwell said. “It’s a much shorter bus ride, and our kids get to sleep in their own beds the night before. I’m sure Westhill will be very tough.”
“One of the coaches said to us ‘don’t let it slip now. We didn’t get this far just to come this far,” Terenzi said. “Twelve years is far far too long for us to have gone without a state title. And if we have a chance to do it at home, at Hofstra, with all our family and friends around? That would be incredible. Just incredible.”