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Grand Island, Akron capture Section VI boys lacrosse titles

Grand Island boys lacrosse coach Ted Lee said he was a little bit nervous just before answering postgame questions for the first time on Thursday evening.

But he took the Gatorade shower in stride like a seasoned vet.

The Vikings had reason to celebrate after winning their first Section VI boys lacrosse title since 2000 with a 10-6 victory over West Seneca East in the Class C championship.

Akron (17-1) beat Eden (14-4) in the second game of the doubleheader at Williamsville North, 7-6, for the first-ever Class D crown. It was the fourth straight sectional title for the Tigers.

“I am at a loss for words,” Lee said. “I told my guys before the game, if you play four good quarters of lacrosse, we’ll be all set.”

Lee also offered some words of inspiration prior to the opening face-off.

“We had a fellow Viking pass away this year and he graduated in 2000, Pete Ragnar,” Lee said. “I told them before the game, ‘win one for him.’ He was the last one, in 2000, to win a sectional championship, so it worked out perfectly that 17 years later we won one for him, too.”

It took some time for the top-seeded Vikings (18-1) to find their groove on offense against No. 2 West Seneca East’s (14-5) stout zone defense, but their ball movement and transition game ultimately made the difference.

Colin Schmatz scored his first of two goals on the day to give the Trojans the first lead 1:30 in. Nick Anzalone got Grand Island on the board with 2:50 left in the first quarter, and Parker Morrow 1:05 later gave the Vikings the lead for good.

“Once we got to push transition a little bit and break their zone down a little bit — I mean, coach” Jimmy “Maisano runs a fantastic zone, and as you can tell by the score early on it was super close,” Lee said. “We were able to push transition a little bit, get some goals off that. But six-on-six he played phenomenally. I got to give him all the credit.”

Junior attack Tom Cecere, who finished with two goals and three assists, was the catalyst on offense. He set up the first two goals with assists, scored with 2.9 seconds left in the half to make the score 5-2 and scored another late goal in the third quarter with 6.6 seconds left to give the Vikings an 8-4 lead.

Cam Blair and Trevor Samplinski also added two goals for Grand Island.

Grand Island strikes a championship pose at Williamsville North on Thursday after winning its first Section VI boys lacrosse title since 2000. (Corey Desiderio/Buffalo News)

Meanwhile, Akron, a team known for its high-powered offense, was forced to rely on its defense to make a last-second stand against a resurgent Eden crew.

Senior Joshua Plarr’s second and third goals of the game pulled Eden within one, 7-6, with 2:59 on the clock. The Raiders called a timeout with 1:15 left and possessed the ball the rest of the way, but they couldn’t sneak any of their three prime scoring chances past Akron junior Symon Jonathan (16 saves).

“In the fourth quarter when it was coming right down to the end, I just wanted the ball,” Akron coach Gary Sundown said. “I thought they were going to tie it up. Luckily our defense held strong, stopped that last shot and we walked away with it.

It was Plarr’s first goal that gave Eden a 4-3 lead, its first of the game, with 23.4 seconds left in the third quarter.

That’s when Akron junior Owen Hill put the Tigers on his shoulders.

The Albany verbal commit tied it up 2:09 into the fourth quarter with his first goal, split two Eden defenders and dished to a wide open Keenan Ninham for his third assist, and then scored two more himself to extend the lead to 7-4.

“One of the things that is very noticeable in our season is when Owen’s on fire, everybody’s on fire,” Sundown said. “I think him starting out as slow as he did and gaining productivity kind of took us to that next level where we’re used to. But until he got on fire, we were kind of dead.”

Next up for the victors is the Far West Regionals on Saturday at St. John Fisher. Grand Island takes on V-Palmyra-Macedon (17-2) at 3 p.m. Akron plays familiar foe V-Penn Yan at 5:30 p.m.

Sundown’s been keeping an eye on the Mustangs, who’ve eliminated the Tigers the past three postseasons.

“This year we know they’re 10-9 and not as high in the stats as they’re used to,” Sundown said. “Every champion has a bad day, and we’re looking for that bad day on Saturday. We’d like a little revenge.”

The Akron boys lacrosse team won the first-ever Class D title at Williamsville North on Thursday. It was its fourth straight sectional championship after winning the last three in Class C. (Corey Desiderio/Buffalo News)

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