PYA boys lacrosse are 25-time champions
PENN YAN – In what should be no surprise to anyone who's watched Section V lacrosse this Spring, the Penn Yan boys lacrosse team won the Class D Championship title in Monday night's Final versus Pal-Mac. The win is Penn Yan's 25th Sectional title, more than any other school in Section V. With no State Championship this year, there's no telling how Penn Yan would have fared in the tournament, but with this year's team, they likely would have had a shot at the State title.
The changes in protocol due to COVID have produced few positive changes to high school athletic competitions, but one bright side for Penn Yan was the opportunity to fight for the title on their home turf. In a normal year, the final and semi-final round of Sectionals are held on neutral ground. However, this year, because of those protocol changes, each match in the tournament was hosted by the higher-seeded team. With Penn Yan taking the #1 seed this year after a near-perfect season, they had home field advantage through the entire tournament.
As expected, the game hosted the largest crowd on either side of the field Penn Yan Academy has seen all year. With some restrictions recently being lifted, up to 500 spectators were allowed to attend the match. The home bleachers were filled with the orange "Strive for 25" t-shirts that Penn Yan fans have sported throughout Sectionals, while the visitors' side was filled with red shirts supporting Pal-Mac and more bodies than those bleachers have supported in quite some time.
With no offense to either team, the game itself was nothing spectacular. Penn Yan has had closer games this season, including last week's semi-final match against Bath. Though Pal-Mac fought admirably and played the best game they could, there hasn't been a team in Class D that comes close to matching Penn Yan's skill and talent this season. Nearby rival Marcus Whitman maintained a record close to Penn Yan's through the Spring, even sitting at the #1 rank in the Finger Lakes League for a majority of the season due to getting an early one-game lead in league wins, but their much anticipated meetup in the second half of the season ended in a 10-3 win for the Mustangs, though Whitman did manage to hold PY to one their lowest scoring games of the year. With Whitman being the #2 seed in the tournament and making it through to the semi-final round, Penn Yan and Whitman fans were both getting excited for a potential rematch in the Finals, but Whitman fell to Pal-Mac in last week's game, giving the Red Raiders their opportunity to face Penn Yan for the title. Pal-Mac's first meeting with Penn Yan in the early part of the season ended in a 9-2 win for the Mustangs.
Monday night's match was a slower-paced game than most of PY's outings this year. The first quarter saw Penn Yan pick up two goals to open, answering with a third after Pal-Mac's Quinn Nolan turned a winning faceoff into the Red Raiders' first goal and ending the period at 3-1. Penn Yan added five unanswered goals before halftime. A minute into the third quarter, Pal-Mac's Damian Knaak scored the first goal of the second half, but it was destined to be the Raiders' last goal of the game as Penn Yan put up four goals in each of the third and fourth quarters with no further response from Pal-Mac, ending the game at 16-2 at the final buzzer.
Penn Yan had several stars of the night. Max Brodmann scored a season-high five goals in the game and Ayden Mowry was a leading attacker for the Mustangs as he has been throughout the season, scoring four. Penn Yan's defense was led by Mason Kuver, who was on fire and an absolute nightmare for Pal-Mac's offense, repeatedly knocking the ball loose and focing multiple turnovers. PY goaltender Griffin Emerson also displayed his skills, making eight saves in the game, including several tough shots offered up by the Raiders. Though the game didn't turn into another of the 19-0 shutouts that have become a familiar scene in Penn Yan this season, the game was one-sided enough that the clock had moved into running time (an oddity in a Sectional game) and Penn Yan had pulled all their starters, the leaving players being met with huge ovations by the home crowd, by the end of the fourth quarter.
Penn Yan's final scoring stats for the game were Max Brodman with five goals and one assist, Ayden Mowry with four goals and an assist, Devon Gerhardt with three goals and an assist, Carter Earl with two goals and an assist and one goal each from Mekhi Mahan and Teagan Fingar. For Pal-Mac's efforts, Quinn Nolan had one goal, Damian Knaak had one goal, Keagan Hoesterey picked up one assist and goaltender Will Nichols made seven saves.
As the final buzzer sounded, the victorious Mustangs tossed their equipment in the air and met at center field, jumping, hugging, cheering and lifting each other, including a spin in the air of 8th-grader goalie Wil Thompson by teammate Kyler Lloyd, which has become something of a traditional victory celebration this year in games where Thompson got some net time.
After the game, Section V officials presented several awards, including the Class D Sportsmanship Award to the Mustangs, Class D Tournament MVP to Max Brodmann and Section V Head Coach of the Year to coach Brian Hobart, finally presenting the Championship trophy to the 2021 Penn Yan Mustangs lacrosse team. After leaving the field and meeting their family and fans for much-deserved congratulations, the Mustangs boarded a Penn Yan school bus and took a celebratory ride through town, escorted by trucks and sirens from the Penn Yan Fire Dept. and being cheered on by roadside fans along the parade route. The bus ride returned to Penn Yan Academy where the Mustangs rang the victory bell outside the school, a tradition for winning Penn Yan teams.
Asked about his feelings after the match, head coach Brian Hobart said, "I could not be prouder of these kids. Our number one goal in this program is to win a Sectional Championship and we talk about it every day. These kids did it."