By MIKE SMITH
On April 12, the Eastchester Eagles hosted their rivals from Scarsdale, beating the Raiders 10-8 in their annual Spark the Night for Autism game.
The win might have been a little too close for comfort for some fans, but served as an example of how improved the Eagles are in the 2014 season.
“I think we made some mistakes in the game that we’ve been trying to limit this year,” head coach Steve Lennon said. “Against the teams we’re supposed to beat, we want to be able to pull away, and we’ve been working hard in practice every day to do that.”
Eastchester’s offense was led by senior Rob Lalli, who tallied four goals on the day. Over the past few weeks, Lalli—who is Eastchester’s top scoring threat—has worked on improving his efficiency on the offensive end to great results. Down the stretch, he has averaged four goals per game on fewer shots, adding to the success of Eastchester’s offensive unit.
“We talked in the beginning of the season, when he was taking shots but not hitting as many,” Lennon said. “He’s been working really hard in practice on all different scenarios and now he’s getting to the point where he will score four goals on six shots or so.”
Lalli has been facing increased double-teams this year and has also been working on distributing the ball to some of Eastchester’s younger scorers, including John Archidiacono and John Guido. In the two
underclassmen, Eastchester has found backup scoring options and two players poised to lead the Eagles for years to come.
“Guido had almost 50 points as a freshman, and he’s on pace to possibly score 200 points for his career when it’s over,” Lennon said. “Both guys can shoot in space, and with Rob to bring the defense to one side, that helps us a lot.”
With Wayne Hoffman in net, making more than 20 saves per game, the Eagles look to be a formidable opponent for everyone this year. The team’s only two losses have come against perennial Section I powers Fox Lane and Mamaroneck.
“Against teams like that, we’re learning on the run with our sophomores, and against Mamaroneck, we were playing down a man for 14 minutes,” Lennon said. “It doesn’t matter who you are, if you play against a team like that down a man for that long, you’re not going to win.”
Saturday’s game against the Raiders coincided with Eastchester’s annual effort to raise money and awareness for autism.
Spark the Night for Autism, the brainchild of Lennon and 2013 senior Matt Power, raised $2,000 dollars through the price of admission, concessions and various raffles, and looks to be a staple of the program moving forward.
“I think everything ran tighter this year,” Lennon said. “We’re on the field, trying to play, so we rely so heavily on the contribution of the parents and the community to help raise money. We think this is definitely a good thing for our program.”
The Eagles have nine games left on the year, including non-conference contests against tough teams like Harrison and a full docket of league games.
“We always have the goal of winning the league,” Lennon said. “So we’d like to win out.”