Vikings hold off Highland rally to win 7-5

By Mike Zummo
Posted 6/9/21


It was likely the last game Alex Oakes would play in goal on his home field for the Valley Central boys’ lacrosse team.

He wasn’t about to let the Vikings’ victory get …

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Vikings hold off Highland rally to win 7-5


It was likely the last game Alex Oakes would play in goal on his home field for the Valley Central boys’ lacrosse team.

He wasn’t about to let the Vikings’ victory get away.

He made nine saves as the Highland Huskies mounted an offensive onslaught in the fourth quarter and he helped the Vikings hang on for a 7-5 win on Senior Night on Friday to close out the regular season.

“It’s a big, big load off my shoulders,” said Oakes, one of the team’s graduating seniors. “If we lost this year, I would think about it for the rest of my life. So, I’m glad we won.”

The Vikings had put up a six-goal lead early in the third quarter when the offense suddenly ran dry after Aidan Laughman score with 9:42 remaining.

At that point, the Vikings were feeling the best they would for the rest of the game.

“I was pretty confident,” Oakes said. “And then they started creeping back and I was like, ‘I need to show up’. My teammates rely on me, and I rely on them and so they start creeping up and the rest is history.”

It took a long while to get it to history as the Huskies started chipping away at the Vikings’ starting with Austin Palmer’s second goal of the game with 3:57 remaining in the quarter.

Palmer finished with three of the Huskies’ five goals.

Highland’s Ethan Esposito scored just 42 minutes into the fourth quarter and Palmer added his third about a minute later. Dean Klotz scored with 8:25 left in the game to pull to within two goals.

“It got a little crazy there,” Valley Central coach Tom Stoddard said. “We’ve just got to learn how to perform under pressure. We just need to mature a little bit, lacrosse IQ-wise. Having a year off, we lost that a little bit.”

The lacrosse season – along with every other spring sport – was canceled last year due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and what resulted this year was a compressed schedule that made little time for practice, and little conditioning.

“It’s been hard,” Oakes said. “It’s like you just got off the couch and you get tired, and you don’t want to move. But we put a lot of work in this season, and we put in extra work. I think putting in that extra work paid off.”
It paid off in the form of an early lead to start the game as the Vikings jumped out to an early lead with four first-quarter goals contributed by Randy Rosario, Dan McClure, Bryce DeRonda and Aidan Laughman.

Overall, Laughman, McClure and DeRonda finished with two goals each and Rosario only scored once. McClure, Dan Latimer and Rosario added one assist each.

“It’s been like a whole offseason mixed with summer ball it feels like because we play every other day,” Stoddard said. “So, it’s tough to practice or get meaningful practices in. But for the most part, they’ve come a long way since Day 1.”

Now, they’ll get a few days off to practice before they play their next game, a Section 9 Class B semifinal matchup with second-seeded Cornwall on Wednesday.

The two teams met on May 10, a game the Vikings lost, 9-6.

“I think it’s a good matchup for both of us,” Stoddard said. “They’ve got a very high-powered offense. They’ve got a couple kids that can score. It’s going to be tough slowing that down, but we’ll see what we can do.”


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