After a rare sectional title-game loss in 2010, Yorktown bounced back in a big way last year.
The Huskers pulled away for a 14-5 win over John Jay in the Section 1 Class B championship game.
It was Yorktown’s 34th sectional title. With the win, Yorktown, making its 32nd straight sectional final appearance, avoided losing back-to-back sectional title games for the first time since 1976.
Several of the stars of last season – and that resounding win – have moved on to the Division I collegiate level, including Ty Schuldt (four goals vs. John Jay in the final) and Justin Mabus (six assists). Schuldt plays at the University of Hartford. Mabus
But Yorktown has a strong core of returning players, including its leading scorer, Conor Gately.
The senior attackman finished the season with 22 goals and 58 assists for 80 points. He had three goals and one assist in the Huskers’ 10-8 state semifinal loss to Garden City.
Gately will take his playmaking talents to the D-I level at Marquette. But he’s anxiously awaiting his final varsity lax season.
Now, here are Conor’s perspectives on the 2012 season:
What have you been doing to get ready for the season?
As of now, I’m in the winter season playing basketball. I feel basketball relates to lacrosse in so many ways and helps me prepare for the season. It helps with my field vision, conditioning and also keeps me active six to seven days a week. Whenever I get some time off or a break I go to Club Fit to workout with fellow teammates and partner up with Trevor Koelsch at the Parisi Speed School.
How does your schedule look, what games are you looking forward to most, and who are some of your scrimmages against?
Our schedule, just like every year, is arguably the most competitive schedule in the area. We play a lot of top teams in the Hudson Valley, Long Island and Connecticut area. Obviously the rival games, such as John Jay and Lakeland/Panas, are always big, but as a senior on the team, every game is big for me. This is my last year being able to play on one of the most tradition-rich programs in the country, and every game means as much as the next.
What player or players on your team do you think will surprise some people this season?
This year I feel a lot of players will make a name for themselves. We have a lot of seniors, juniors and sophomores who will make differences on the field.
Brian Prestreau, a junior midfielder, will have a huge year. He’s a big, fast athletic kid who can make plays on both ends of the field.
Danny Manning, who had a good year last year, will have a even better year. He dominates the faceoffs and the game will slow down for him this year.
Senior midfielders Brian Quigley, Joey Sialiano, Hunter Palancia and Fitim Lajqi will all be forces this year. All four kids are playing lacrosse in college and had to be patient last year with Justin (Mabus) and Ty (Schuldt) getting most of the time. This year is their year to explode onto the scene.
Sophomore attackman Connor Vercruysse will have a huge year also, he is a big kid with a cannon for a shot. He got some valuable experience last year, and will without question be a big time name when the year gets going.
What do you think the strength of your team will be this year?
The strength of our team this year will be two things: balance and chemistry. We will have six guys on offense at any given time who can make plays. Our whole attack line is returning. We’ve played with each other for three years now, so we know how to work with each other very well.
Our defense will be a huge force. Eric Cooley, Trevor Koelsch and Gzim Lajqi will be able to prevent offenses from getting into their flow. Going against a defense like this every day at practice makes our offense that much better.
Our team chemistry will be very strong. Everyone on the team is tight with one another, and we all respect each other. Side distractions won’t be an issue, we know what we have to do day in, day out to get the job done.
How do you view the race in your league and who do you think some of the contending teams will be?
Our league, like last year, will be very competitive. Rankings don’t mean anything to us, as long as we focus on our jobs and let our play dictate the game flow we should be very successful. Being in a league with teams like Somers, John Jay and Rye means we don’t have easy games by any means. Every team in our league has a chance to contend, but if we play the way we know we can, our chances will be very high.
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Player’s perspective archive
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* For a look at how schedules for teams from throughout the region for the 2012 season are shaping up, be sure to check out the “Schedules galore” thread.