By Mike Zummo
The Wallkill boys’ lacrosse team picked up the 2022 season right where the 2021 season left off.
With a victory.
It was a great deal colder than last June when the Panthers won the Section 9 Class C championship, but the Panthers started their title defense on Wednesday night with a 13-9 win over the Minisink Valley Warriors at Robinson Field.
“We lost a couple of seniors from last year,” Wallkill’s Colin McCartney said. “Our big goalie, and our leading scorer last year. We were kind of anxious, but I think deep down we knew we had the core that we needed and the people that we needed. We’ve been working hard in practice the entire time. I think deep down we knew that we had this.”
It became clearer that the Panthers had “this” later game as the Panthers posted five goals in the third quarter to create some distance.
The Panthers took the lead for good with 7:36 left in the third quarter when Ty Crowley passed the ball forward to Richie Martinez, who put it in for the score.
That started a four-goal run by the Panthers, as they took a 9-5 lead.
“Lacrosse is always a game of runs,” Wallkill coach Alex Danon said. “I told our guys after that first timeout; we had our run and they’re going to get their run. We’ve just got to make sure that we can stop theirs and then go back on our own. The team that usually goes on the last run is the one that wins.”
The run ended with a little bit of Austin Palen magic. Immediately after David Goll scored, Palen won the ensuing faceoff, ran down the middle of the field and scored the Panthers’ ninth goal of the game.
“It’s a huge morale booster,” McCartney said. “It seems like we got our four goals just like that. He’s such an offensive threat and defensive threat. He’s just an all-around great player.”
The Warriors pulled to within two goals with 5:57 left in the game, but Goll and McCartney added a goal each to finish the game.
“I thought we played great,” Danon said. “Minisink is one of the best teams in the section. Probably the top three. So, to be able to come out in our first game of the year and play as well as we did, is awesome. I knew it was going to be a tough game, and we had to play super clean. We did that.”
McCartney led the Panthers with five goals and one assist.
“Colin’s like a Swiss Army Knife,” Danon said. “He’s good at everything. He’s great on ground balls. He can score; he can feed, and he’s got a good shot. He’s one of our best middies, too. He plays man up and man down. He does everything.”
Goll had three goals and Martinez finished with two goals and one assist. Palen had two goals. Crowley had a goal and two assists, while Robert James had an assist. Alex Petrocelli-Henry made 12 saves in his first game in goal.
“I’ve seen a lot of good movement by my teammates to get open spaces where I could get those scoring opportunities,” McCartney said. “Just everybody was working hard, getting where they need to be.”
The Panthers finished the week with a 13-7 win over the Monroe-Woodbury Crusaders on Friday night.
Martinez scored five goals and had an assist, while McCartney added two goals and two assists. Crowley had two goals and two assists, while Goll had a goal and an assist. Palen scored once and assisted on two other goals. He also won 15 of 24 faceoffs.
Alec Petrocelli-Henry made 15 saves.
Aiden Russell led the Crusaders with five goals and Eddy Patterson made 20 saves.