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High School Boys Lacrosse: Hamburg unable to match level of nationally-ranked J-D in state semis

Pictured above top, Kyle Violanti (right) attempts to run down a loose ball against Jamesville-DeWitt standout defender Scott Firman. Above, Ben Ott looks for a little room to maneuver, but Hamburg couldn’t find much in its state semifinal loss.

It seemed as if Hamburg had taken its play to another level in getting by the Far Western Regional round for only the second time in program history, and in such convincing fashion.

But what lied ahead of Canandaigua of Rochester was even another elite level of lacrosse that the Bulldogs saw upon reaching the state semifinals. And this level, they were not yet up to.

From the opening face-off, Jamesville-DeWitt of the Syracuse area gave Hamburg all types of fits and ran away with an 18-5 victory on Wednesday (June 5) at St. John Fisher College in Rochester to advance to the state championship game.

“They were an amazing team and unfortunately, we hadn’t seen that level of play this year,” Hamburg head coach Jerry Severino said after the game. “One of the things we can take out of it is that we’ll learn from our loss. If we want to get to that level of play, we’ve got to step our game up. We’ve got to make things more challenging for our guys — I really thought we had been. It’s another level of high school lacrosse that we just witnessed.”

Already up against a program heralding from the traditionally strong Syracuse-area, Hamburg also found itself up against a team that won state titles in 2010 and `11 and were just as good this season. Severino said all lacrosse teams aspire to guard hard and be hard to guard, and that accurately described and was the formula for success of Jamesville-Dewitt.

“They’re not ranked in the Top 10 nationally without reason,” Severino said. “They’re really an excellent program. We aspire to that level of play, but today we were just victimized by a much better team. It was tough to endure.”

The Bulldogs certainly knew coming into the game they were in for a major challenge. Among the many highly-coveted college-bound players on the Jamesville-DeWitt squad, middie Jordan Evans and defender Scott Firman are both heading to play for Syracuse and the team’s main face-off man Jeff Edwards will join Canisius next year.

But there were so many skilled players throughout the field, including junior Griffin Feiner, who scored seven goals, many times as the beneficiary of Evans’ passes. Evans finished with eight assists to go along with two goals. Mike Engstrom added three goals for an offense that feature eight different goal scorers.

“We knew they were good and had a good offense coming in,” said Evans, whose team watched film of Hamburg in the regional round in preparation for the state semifinal. “Their D-poles didn’t push out as much as they should have and left our hands open which is why we had so many assisted goal. And if our guys are going to keep winning face-offs, we’re going to keep scoring goals.”

Jamesville-DeWitt got out a 4-0 lead almost instantaneously behind Edwards controlling the draws. Lucas Johnson also helped the domination throughout the game on face-offs, which had been a strongsuit for Hamburg behind the efforts of Nick Wilcox for much of the season. The Bulldogs won only 4 of 14 draws in the first half.

“For the last month, we had possession against other teams like they had possession against us,” Severino said. “Without the ball, it’s kind of tough to hang in there. Plus, their schemes on offense are unbelievable. They’re very tough to guard and I consider my defense to be strong.”
A disappointed group of captains, from left, Max Maxwell, Nick Wilcox, Adam Gawlak, with coach Jerry Severino, and Lucas Shafer, pose with the state semifinal plaque. (Photos by Michael J. Petro)

Hamburg wouldn’t take its first shot until six minutes into the game and notched its first goal nearly nine minutes in as Wilcox found the back of the net for the first of his two goals on the afternoon.

UMBC-bound senior Max Maxwell recorded his lone goal of the game with four minutes left in the second quarter as Hamburg scored consecutively for the only time in the game to cut a lead that had grown to eight to 9-3.

But Jamesville-DeWitt scored the final two goals of the half and then opened the third with three consecutive scores to increase its lead to 14-3 and end any Hamburg thoughts of a comeback.

“Other teams may know what’s coming but when we’ve got all of these guys scoring they have to pay attention to them and if they don’t, then those guys are just going to keep scoring,” said Evans.

“Once I know where the slide is coming from (an opponent’s defense), I can look there and it’s just about taking what the defense gives you,” he added.

Hamburg ended another big season as Section VI champions for the sixth time in seven seasons. Behind 16 seniors, the Bulldogs finished 17-3.

“We can take pride in what we’ve done and how far we’ve gotten and what our program has become — I’m real proud of that,” Severino said.


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