Varsity Lacrosse Team Loses by a Goal in Vineyard's First State Championship

By BRETT FERRY

In the first high school state championship game ever played on-Island, the boys' varsity lacrosse team of the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School finished its season yesterday two goals shy of a Division III state title.

In a hard-fought battle to the final seconds, the second-seeded Vineyarders fell to the fifth-seeded Ipswich Tigers, 6-5, in their final game of a remarkable season. The loss leaves the Vineyarders with the title of Division III State Finalists - the second best team in the division. Even at second best, this relatively young Island lacrosse program left a huge imprint in Vineyard sports this year.

It is only in the Division III lacrosse finals that home field advantage is granted to the higher seeded team. Finishing with a 20-3 record, this Vineyard team was the only varsity team at the high school to make it to the state championships this year. They are also the second youngest varsity sport at the high school, and have never advanced past the first game of the playoffs until this season.

Boys' lacrosse has been a varsity sport only for the past five years, and was a club team for two years before that.

Dave Brodsky, director and founder of Vineyard Youth Lacrosse, sat in the stands waiting for yesterday's game to begin.

"It puts us on the map," he said. "To come in to this game with as young a program as we have says we're doing it right."

Almost all nine of this team's nine seniors come up through the youth program, Mr. Brodsky said.

"It feels great to have them here. It's why we do it," he said.

Vineyard fans came out in full force yesterday, filling the stands and lining the sidelines to watch their team compete for the state title.

As the fans awaited the starting face-off, four officers from the Edgartown Police Color Guard marched the American flag out to midfield and High School junior Tonya Leonard delivered a powerful and stirring rendition of our National Anthem.

At the starting whistle, the Vineyard faced off against the orange and white Tigers from Ipswich and the game began as most of the Vineyard's games did this year.

Mac Schilcher won the opening face-off. Chris Brown scooped up the ground ball and delivered it to the offensive zone.

The Vineyard was playing its game - settling on offense and controlling the ball. Ipswich was playing theirs - relying on transitions to catch the Vineyard off-guard. Ipswich got several shots off but Vineyard goalie Grant Joiner came up with the saves.

It was a scoreless first quarter until Nicholi Sullo took a pass from Alex Rossi and fired a shot past the shoulder of the Ipswich goalie, Shaun McCarthy.

Ipswich came out firing in the second quarter and from the first minute to the last minute came up with a flurry of five goals.

Alex Rossi added one more point to leave the Vineyard three points behind at halftime.

Both teams took the field with a heightened level of intensity to open the second half. It was an even match that went scoreless until the end of the quarter when Ipswich attackman Andy Mackey stretched the lead to four points.

It was not until the fourth quarter that the Vineyard team emerged - the team its fans had been waiting to see ever since the opening face-off.

Freshman Edison Parzanese passed to Sullo, who again unleashed a shot from the top of the box for the Vineyard's third goal. Two minutes later, Ted Desrosiers drove to the goal and got a shot past McCarthy.

The Vineyard had stepped up the tempo, but minutes were ticking off the clock.

At 5:23 left in the game, it was Desrosiers again who took a pass from Parzanese and brought the Vineyard within one point of a tie game.

In the final minutes, with the Vineyard fans on the edge of their seats needing to see another goal, the ball moved back and forth to either side of the field. Defenseman Curtis Chandler came up with phenomenal steals to get the ball back to the offense. Sophomore Andrew Farrissey was also a key force on the Vineyard defense.

Farrissey was an unrecognized star this season, lost in the shadows of the twin towers, Chandler and Greg Bennett, the first team league all-stars on the Vineyard defense.

With 18 seconds remaining, the Vineyard called a time-out with the ball in its possession at midfield.

Eighteen seconds turned out not to be enough time to tie the score. Ipswich clinched the Division III State title in the most exciting game of the Vineyard's season.

"The kid's played their hearts out. They did a hell of a job," said Vineyard coach Peter Ferrini. "We just couldn't get it past their goalie.

"Their goalie was outstanding. We were hoping he'd come up cold, and he came up hot."

The game could have been called a battle of the goalies. Both Shaun McCarthy for Ipswich and Grant Joiner for the Vineyard had phenomenal performances in the net yesterday, recording 12 and eight saves, respectively.

The game concluded a pivotal season for the Vineyard lacrosse program, the season that saw this new sport come of age on the Island.

"I think it's going to escalate. It's on its way," said Coach Ferrini.

"It's a huge step for Vineyard lacrosse."