June 1-7, 2006
By Luke Eggleston/ SUN staff writer
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
After a solid season, Bishop Ludden boys lacrosse falls in the sectional tournament
With a mix of first-year players amidst a core of veterans, the Bishop Ludden varsity boys lacrosse team did well to compile an 8-9 record overall and earn a berth in the Section 3 Class C Tournament for the second consecutive year.
Thursday, May 25, in a first round contest at Marcellus, the Gaelic Knights succumbed to a late rally to fall 13-12 overtime. Bishop Ludden had built a 12-8 lead; its largest of the game, with just over five minutes to play when two man-down goals and two at even strength forced an overtime session.
The Knights battled the Mustangs to a third overtime when Marcellus middie Scott Campbell won a face-off, raced down to the net and shot. Ludden goalie Tim Elliott made the first save, but Campbell caught a rebound and shot again, scoring the game winner. With the 13-12 win, the Mustangs advanced to the sectional semifinal where they played perennial Class C power LaFayette. With little depth, the Knights play their starters through each quarter in close games. Ludden coach Tony Minieri explained that many of his players were simply exhausted, and fatigue led to unfocused play which, in turn, yielded fouls. “That was the game right there,” the coach said, adding, however, that his team played hard and he was proud of their performance against a solid Marcellus squad.
The end of a successful season was bittersweet for the coach. The 2006 campaign was the last for his son, John Minieri, a first-team all-league selection, who will take his stick to Canisius College next year, as well as attackman Pete Slowik, who will look to play lacrosse at St. Joseph’s University. Minieri has coached both players since they were in the LaFayette youth program. John Minieri leaves the Bishop Ludden program as its all-time leading scorer with 153 goals and 82 assists (235 points). A four-year starter, he was an all-league selection each year.
“I’m going to miss him. I’ll just be a parent now, sitting in the stands,” Minieri said. Typically, the Knights play a zone defense, but they challenged Marcellus man-to-man in the early phase of the game in an effort to throw the Mustangs off.
With their superior dodging, the Mustangs seized the advantage, taking an early 3-1 lead. In the second quarter the Knights reverted to their trademark zone and were able to claw back into contention. With six minutes, 49 seconds remaining in the half, Ludden tied the game for the first time when John Minieri intercepted a lackadaisical clearance, skirted Marcellus’ defense and beat Marcus Giarrusso just inside the left post. On the ensuing face-off, Campbell, who will play soccer at Syracuse University next year, raced in on net and scored, giving the Mustangs a 5-4 lead.
Ludden tied the game again, however, when Dave O’Connell threaded a pass to Minieri from the back of the cage and the senior attackman scored. The Knights took their first lead of the game with 4:19 remaining. Connor Brown spiraled around the crease from the back of the net and shot. Giarrusso deflected the shot, but O’Connell was able to scoop up the loose ball and score, giving the visitors a 6-5 lead. The Knights cushioned their lead with six seconds to play when Slowik circled around the crease and ran into two defensemen, spun between them and snapped in a score for a 7-5 lead.
Bishop Ludden slowly expanded its lead in the second half. Slowik, Brad Kirch and Minieri each rippled the net in the third quarter and the Knights took a 10-7 lead.
It appeared to be smooth sailing ahead with five minutes to go but Marcellus’ Dan Walsh scored on an assist from Campbell to keep the hosts in the game. Then, two penalties afforded back-to-back, man-up opportunities for the Mustangs, with Pete Blackmer and Jamie Sprague scoring. Marcellus’ players roared with the newfound momentum and with 3:03 left in regulation, Dan Walsh sidearmed in a shot on a pass from Campbell to tie the game 12-12. That same momentum carried into the overtime sessions although Ludden nearly ended the contest were it not for the post getting in the way of a shot from Kirch.
O’Connell led the Knights with three goals and two assists, while Minieri posted three goals and one assist. Slowik tallied four points (two goals and two assists) and Brad Kirch scored two goals.
Campbell led the Mustangs with five goals and one assist and Mike McSweeney had three goals and two assists and Dan Walsh had two goals.