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OP takes clash of boys lacrosse champions against Hamburg

Patience, share, win.

That was Orchard Park's motto Saturday night heading into its heavyweight boys lacrosse showdown with Hamburg. Being able to execute the first two words of that theme not only made the third possible but also enabled the Quakers to enjoy another sports term: bragging rights.

The champion versus champion showdown at Hamburg High School's Howe Field was a good as advertised. The difference in an intense, physical clash between reigning champions: OP's patient, unselfish offensive approach as with the game on the line the Quakers proved to be just a tad bit better.

Orchard Park (5-1) used a three-goal run – with two of them coming early in the fourth quarter – to surge ahead for good as the reigning Class A champion defeated the defending Class B champion Bulldogs, 10-7.

Six different players scored for OP – with Logan Collins' late third-quarter goal on a power play breaking the game's final tie. That along with fine efforts from faceoff man Mitchell Streety and midfielder Nic Bruce also proved to be critical to the Quakers' success in the first meeting between two of the area's most successful programs since May 18, 2005.

"It was just special," said Streety, who won eight draws, scooped up eight ground balls and assisted on the game's final goal. "People who didn't even go to Orchard Park were wondering if we were going to win. We had to pull through – bragging rights."

An estimated 600 watched as the Bulldogs (6-1), who have won nine Section VI titles the past 10 years, showed why the potential exists for them to reach another final. The fans also saw why OP, winners of 24 sectional titles the past 26 seasons, is still king of the hill.

The Quakers used a 3-1 fourth quarter to pull away as they did a better job getting to key loose balls and forcing turnovers.

"It was just a good, hard fought lacrosse game between two teams and we came out on top," OP coach Larry Catalano said. "We shared the ball and we got good execution."

Collins' power-play goal with 56 seconds left in the third quarter broke a 6-6 tie, giving the Quakers the lead for good. Pat Sullivan and Cayden Collins followed to give OP its biggest lead of the game with 8:19 left.

Matt Ranger pulled the Bulldogs within 9-7 with 6:17 left. They had a chance to inch even closer minutes later but misfired on a transition rush – one of several good chances Hamburg failed to convert.

While Streety didn't score, he gave his team chances to do so as he won 50 percent of his draws in the epic showdown between top face-off men in the area. Streety entered having won 86 percent of his draws. Hamburg counterpart John Collins toted a 72.3 percent clip.

Streety also led the charge to gobble up loose balls that enabled the Quakers to enjoy a healthy edge in possession time – estimated at 65 percent by Hamburg coach Jerry Severino.

That along with OP's patient offensive approach slowed down a Bulldogs offense that averaged 13.2 goals.

Bruce also did a fine job guarding Hamburg's returning All-WNYer Jason Chiodo – limiting his touches. Griffin O'Brien and Josh Dahl also played well defensively for OP.

"They took it to us," Severino said. "They were faster to the ground balls. They were more resourceful. They took advantage of our mistakes."

The full-of-fight Bulldogs still had as much of a chance at winning.

Hamburg scored thrice in a span of 69 seconds during the second quarter to turn a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 lead with Ranger, Gabe Schneider and Kobe Wright potting goals.

OP tied it shortly after that on a Matt Honer goal. Dan Valtin followed with his second of the game to give the Quakers a lead. Chiodo tied it with just over two minutes left in the second, but OP went into halftime with a 5-4 lead on Sullivan's goal.

With Hamburg scoring 11 second-half goals in its last game, a win over Virginia-power Westfield, it felt good about its chances after halftime. The Bulldogs generated some good opportunities but failed to convert them before tying the game at 5 on Jack Rettig's goal with 7:14 left in the third. OP went ahead again on bouncer by Cayden Collins but Brock Schneider tied the game for the last time for Hamburg with 3:37 left.

OP pulled away and in doing so earned bragging rights until the teams' next meeting May 15 at Orchard Park.

"It's nice to have this game back," Catalano said. "It's nice we can build a friendly, competitive rivalry hopefully for years to come."

"It's still good for the area (that we played each other)," Severino said. "Now everybody is going to wonder what happens in the second game. We wanted good competition and we got it. We'll be looking to even the scales."

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