By MIKE SMITH
Through the first two rounds of the Class A lacrosse playoffs, Harrison hasn’t exactly played to the level of a traditional 13-seed. With two straight decisive wins over higher-seeds though, a now-healthy Huskies squad is showing it might be better than its regular season record suggests.
With a 9-4 win over Eastchester on May 16 and a 13-4 win over Sleepy Hollow in the quarterfinals, the Huskies seem to be firing on all cylinders as they prepare for a semifinal showdown with a dominant Yorktown team.
According to head coach Jay Rabinowitz, a big reason for Harrison’s recent success is the fact that some key players who missed time during the regular season are now back and the team seems to be at full strength.
Jake Marino, who missed two weeks with a concussion, has come up big in the playoffs, scoring 5 goals against Eastchester and 4 against the Horsemen.
In Harrison’s regular season loss to the Eagles, Marino stayed on the sidelines for much of the game.
“In that first game against Eastchester, we had two guys out and it was only Jake’s second game back, so we only played him for a half,” Rabinowitz said. “He averages four or five goals a game, so that’s big.”
Harrison has also been buoyed by the play of senior goalie Stephen Forrest, who tallied 14 saves against the Eagles and held the Horsemen in check as well. According to the head coach, Forrest is beginning to play with great confidence and that is having a profound effect on the rest of the team.
“That is probably the single most important thing for us,” Rabinowitz said. “When he is dominating in net, the rest of our team can play worry free.”
Harrison’s injuries may have cost the team a few wins during the regular season, but Rabinowitz believes playing shorthanded and going on a seven-game losing streak may have actually been a blessing for the team. With a number of younger players thrust into starting roles, Rabinowitz said his team responded well to the challenges of playing without key contributors.
“Missing guys, it definitely created some competition for spots,” the head coach said. “I can’t tell you how much that has helped us. It’s definitely made us a stronger team.”
The Huskies now find themselves faced with a daunting foe in the seminfinals. Yorktown, long a Section I powerhouse, is the top overall seed and has proven to be an offensive juggernaut this season. The Huskers were tested in the quarterfinals by a good John Jay squad, outscoring the Indians 6-1 in the second half, but Yorktown’s success might work against them, Rabinowitz said.
“There’s no pressure on us right now, all the pressure is on them,” he said. “We need to stay loose, slow the game down and keep it close until the fourth quarter. We’re excited, our confidence is high and we are going to battle. It should be a good game.”