After a brilliant run to the Section I title game, Rye’s lacrosse season came to a heartbreaking end on May 29, as the Garnets lost an overtime thriller to Pelham 9-8 in the Class C finals.
Despite the loss, however, Rye coach Steve Lennon is confident that his program will only grow in the coming years, especially if they learn a lesson from their latest setback.
The Garnets, who came into the game with a 14-4 record, started strong behind first quarter goals from Dennis Kennelly, Peter Chabot and Billy Chabot, and soundly outplayed the Pelicans for much of the first half, heading into intermission with a 7-3 lead. But the Pelican defense, perhaps buoyed by a bit of trepidation on the Garnets’ part, clamped down in the second half, allowing just one Rye goal as they clawed their way back into the game.
The Pelicans knotted the score at 8 with just 1:38 to play on a goal by Devin Alvarez-O’Rourke and found the game-winner in OT when George Dunhill powered his way to the net to give Pelham the Class C crown.
According to Lennon, a lack of aggressiveness played a big part in allowing Pelham to battle back from a four-goal deficit, as his team didn’t look for scoring opportunities once the third quarter began.
“We stopped taking shots, I think we didn’t want their goalie making saves and them gaining possession,” Lennon said. “Looking back on it, I think we probably could have taken a few more shots in the second half.”
That Pelham was able to weather the early storm came as little surprise to the Garnets, who tangled with the Pelicans in the regular season. On April 7, Pelham similarly rallied to hand Rye an 8-7 loss.
“We knew going into it that they weren’t going to give up; we’ve seen them win overtime games this year and even their first game against us, they beat us in a comeback,” the coach said. “I think we did a great job, we just made some fundamental, basic mistakes and we weren’t able to win as many faceoffs.”
With roughly half his starters returning in 2019, Lennon is hopeful that his squad will take some important lessons from Tuesday’s game as they eye capturing Rye’s first Section I crown since 2008.
“I think we learned that you need to play a full four quarters and that you can’t take your foot off the gas, but you need to stay positive and if you make mistakes, you move on to the next play, the next game.” Lennon said. “It wasn’t the outcome we wanted, but it was an exciting game and a great experience for the team.”