PITTSFORD — There has always been a significant and understandable divide between boys lacrosse teams from Western New York and those that hail from the center of the state.
So on the rare occasions that Section VI teams have advanced to the state semifinals, where their opponent will most often be from the lacrosse-rich areas in and around Syracuse that have excelled in the sport for decades, the locals know they are in for a challenge.
This year’s edition of the Jamesville-Dewitt team, however, was on an entirely different level.
J-D and its lineup of Division I recruits dominated in all facets of the game on Wednesday afternoon, handing Hamburg an 18-5 defeat in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class B semifinals at St. John Fisher’s Growney Stadium.
“They were an amazing team,” said Hamburg coach Jerry Severino. “It’s another level of high school lacrosse that we just witnessed.”
The Red Rams (20-1), who are ranked in the top 20 of several national polls, including as high as No. 4 by Inside Lacrosse, will return to St. John Fisher on Saturday to play Long Island power Garden City for the Class B state title at 11 a.m.
“They’re not ranked in the top 10 nationally without reason, they’re an excellent program,” Severino said. “We aspire to that level of play. We were just victimized by a much better team, and it was tough to endure.”
Only three times has a Section VI boys lacrosse team advanced to a state final; all by Orchard Park in Class A (2000, 2001, 2009).
Hamburg (17-3) entered the game having attained rather elite status. Not only had it advanced to the semifinals for the second time in school history, it did so with a 12-3 victory over Section V (Rochester area) power Canandaigua in the Far West Regionals.
The first faceoff of the game, where Hamburg senior Nick Wilcox has been dominating, was cleanly won by senior Jeff Edwards and was quickly followed by a goal by senior Mike Engstrom 37 seconds in. In rinse-lather-repeat fashion, the Red Rams followed with faceoff win, goal, faceoff win, goal for a 3-0 lead that prompted a timeout from Severino exactly two minutes into the game.
For the game, Edwards – a Canisius College commit who also had a goal and two assists – won 7 of 12 faceoffs while Lucas Johnson won 6 of 10. Many of those faceoff wins came early on as the Red Rams won the first six in taking a 6-1 lead.
The Hamburg defense was overwhelmed by an offense in which the dangerous Evans scored twice and had eight assists. Five of his assists came on goals by junior Griffin Feiner, a Hartford commit who scored seven times.
Wilcox had two goals for Hamburg, which scored two extra-man goals (one from Wilcox, one from senior Max Maxwell) to make it a 9-3 game in the first half before J-D extended its lead to 11-3 at the break.
The J-D lead was 14-4 after three quarters, with the one Hamburg goal coming when Red Ram goalie Joe Shapiro accidentally dragged the ball into his own cage.
J-D scored two goals in the first minute of the fourth quarter to reach the 12-goal margin that enacts the sport’s mercy rule of a running clock. Soon after, and much more quickly than it wanted, Hamburg was huddling up on a lacrosse field for the last time.
“I just wanted them to realize that losing a game didn’t mean that we shouldn’t take pride in what we’ve done and how far we’ve come, because we have come a long ways,” said Severino said of his message to his team before their bus ride home.
“It’s kind of hard to convince teenagers of that right now … some of them played their last high school game, and that’s a very sad scenario. But kids bounce back. Along about Batavia, they’ll be OK.”