Update: Mustangs rule the West

Gary Pinneo
Penn Yan Mustangs Varsity Lacrosse

The Penn Yan Mustang boy's lacrosse team will advance to the semifinal game in the New York State High School lacrosse tournament. The Orange and Blue laxers defeated the Akron Tigers from Section VI ( Buffalo area) 20-8 Saturday afternoon at St. John Fisher College to punch their ticket to the semi-final round.

The Tigers entered Saturday's game undefeated and scoring on average 24 goals per game. Penn Yan won the Section V Class title by beating Aquinas 12-2. The Mustangs were 14-4 going into this match. Penn Yan's strongest asset this season has been their defense. They have limited their opponents this season to just 6 goals. So this game figured to be one of those offensive minded team playing an opponent that is stingy allowing goals: big offense against tight defense. Also, to make the game even more interesting, the two teams played last year in the far west game. Penn Yan won last year 19-4. A large contingent of Mustang fans filled the Growney Stadium stand on this muggy afternoon, ready for the rematch. The stage was set for a classic game.

The old adage in any sporting event is, a good defense usually wins out over a good offensive. The Mustangs were up to the task defensively. They pressured the Akron forces all afternoon, causing numerous turnovers. They won the majority of the face-offs and controlled the ball for most of the afternoon. And when the Tigers got some good shots off, Penn Yan netminder Gage Ponsetti had the answer, making some huge saves.

The highly touted Penn Yan defense certainly lived up to their notices.

But the surprise of the afternoon was the Orange and Blue offense. They scored a season high 20 goals in this game and operated like a well oiled machine. Every aspect of the Penn Yan game was chugging along on all eight cylinders. In classic fashion, Penn Yan rolled to the next level of the State Tourney with an impressive 20-7 win over an overwhelmed Akron team. The Penn Yan boys, under the strong coaching skills and steady leadership of Head Coach Brian Hobart and long time lacrosse mentor Harry Queener, were ready to play. And play they did. Pretty impressive stuff, especially if you are a Mustang rooter.

Penn Yan jumped out to a 4-1 first quarter lead as the two teams tried to grab the early momentum. A quick, pop-up thunder and lightning storm stopped play in the first quarter. The teams left the field and the game was delayed about a half hour. But the rains didn't deter the Mustangs and their mission. They stretched their lead to 13-5 at the half.

The third quarter had been Akron's strongest period all season long. They hoped to get back into this contest with a strong third stanza. But the Mustangs totally slammed the door on the western laxers. Penn Yan piled on 5 more goals in the period and shut out the Tiger offense. The scoreboard read 18-5 with Penn Yan in total command. The teams traded 2 goals each in the final quarter. But, frankly, the game had been decided long before those final 12 minutes.

There were many heroes and strong performances for Penn Yan in this contest. The Orange and Blue offensive juggernaut was lead by a 7-goal effort by Austin Fingar. Craig Gerhardt netted 5 goals and added 3 assists. Junior Sean Emerson notched 3 goals and added 5 assists. Conner Fingar added 2 goals. Rounding out the impressive Penn Yan scoring ledger was Tate Stewart, Casey Marsh, and Ben Covert with 1 goal each. Junior Gage Ponsetti played a superb game in the nets. He stopped 12 Akron shots, and made several huge saves, especially a couple when the game was still close. But the bottom line in this huge Mustang win was that they had a strong game plan going into the contest and executed that plan effectively. This is how good teams win, and the Penn Yan Mustangs are very good. Just ask the Akron Tigers.

Penn Yan will play in the New York State Class C semifinal game this coming Wednesday afternoon. They will play a very talented Cazenovia team from Section Three. Cazenovia advanced to this game with an impressive 17-6 win over Salmon River. Penn Yan and Cazenovia played in the semifinal game last year with Cazenovia winning. It will be a huge task for sure for the Penn Yan lacrosse team. It should be one of those traditional "barnburner games." The game will be played at St. John Fisher Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. The winner will advance to the NYS High School Lacrosse Class C final in Vestal Saturday, June 6.