High School Boys' Season Rewind: Northeast (June 20)
by Jonah Rosenblum | LaxMagazine.com
1. Garden City (N.Y.), 22-0
Player of the Year
Devin Dwyer, Garden City (N.Y.)
Steve Finnell recalls one play in vivid detail from Garden City's 10-5 victory over Duxbury on April 21. Senior attackman Devin Dwyer picked the ball up off of a restart and flung it 40 yards downfield to a sprinting Liam Kennedy, who capped the play with a goal.
"It was one of those plays where I turned to our assistant coaches and said, 'He's the only one who could make that pass,'" Finnell said. "It's like throwing a fade pattern in football where the only person that could have caught it was Liam."
While not all of his 75 assists came in such spectacular fashion, it was passes like those that made Dwyer stand out during his spectacular career at Garden City.
"He's just different. We've had scorers, but Devin is just a playmaker," Finnell said. "Obviously, a feeder makes his living off of other people finishing his passes but he just makes it look so easy, finding people's sticks whether they're open by three yards or three inches so he's a special one."
Dwyer, who's committed to play collegiately at Harvard, graduates from Garden City as the program's leader in assists with 217. But he's more than just a feeder. After playing his first high school season "probably at 100 pounds," Finnell jokes, Dwyer put on some weight, which made him even more dangerous.
"His junior year, he put on some size and now he is able to attack the cage a little bit more. This year he was able to put us on his back every once in a while," Finnell said. "He's not just a feeder, he's probably if not the most accurate shooter on the team, he's right there. He can shoot the lights out of the ball — righty, lefty, it doesn't really matter."
Irondequoit (N.Y.) didn't exit the field June 9 the way they would have liked to — toting a state championship trophy.
"Everybody was truly hurt because our goal is to win the state title," coach Craig Whipple said. "Our guys have been doing that for most of 12 years since they were second-grade youth players."
While the Eagles' dreams of a state title were dashed in its 11-4 loss to Garden City (N.Y.) in the Class B state championship game, Whipple noted his team had a lot to be proud of — most notably, the fact that the Eagles were still playing June 9.
"They gave everything they had and they did a great job against great teams. They were one of two teams probably in the whole United States at that point of time walking off of a high-school [field]," Whipple said. "They had to realize the extent of their season. They played all the way until [they were] one of two teams in the state walking off the field at that point in time [and that] is a great accomplishment."
The Eagles struggled to score against Garden City, due largely to goalie Dan Marino's strong play. Marino finished with six saves, which included a string of stops in the second quarter. His stops allowed the Trojans to remain even with the Eagles heading into the third quarter, when Garden City seized a lead it never surrendered. A seven-goal outburst in the fourth quarter gave the Trojans breathing room.
"Their goaltending was phenomenal," Whipple said. "We had a flurry in the second quarter where we probably put up six shots right on top of him with some of our bigger scorers and he handled that really nicely."
A slumping offense that defeated Duxbury behind only four goals April 7 was unable to pull off the same feat two months later. Irondequoit failed to break double-digits on seven occasions. Whipple said his team was on a simple quest for rhythm.
"We're really trying to work the ball and figure out what the right scoring equation is and put it in the back of the net," Whipple said. "And when you're like that, you have to have balance out there, and when you're plugging guys in and out, sometimes you don't have the same equation each time so you have to find rhythm."
Whipple said losing Nick Doktor to a separated shoulder for four weeks helped in the long run — Irondequoit was forced to trot out new players and work on its depth — but his loss couldn't have helped Irondequoit's offensive rhythm.
But the experience of playing without Doktor (43 goals) could be useful next year, when the Eagles will no longer have him or teammates Gunnar Miller (43 goals) and Connor Enright (40 goals).
Whipple in 2013 will count on athletic midfielder Ben Brooks as well as Joel Roemer, who is currently looking at Dartmouth, Tufts and a host of other "well-educated" schools, Whipple said. Roemer, who missed roughly six weeks this year with a stress fracture in his foot, could play a key role in the Eagles' success next season. Meanwhile, Alex Shoemaker, a backup goalkeeper in 2012, is "already having a nice start to the summer," Whipple said, as he was named to multiple select teams.
"We've got a few guys that are going to try to step up for us," Whipple said. "We're going to be more blue-collar than we were this year, but that's the fun part of coaching: Getting a new equation and trying to put it together."