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Wayne Post
  • Second-half strike propels Penfield to Class A title

  • The Penfield boys’ lacrosse team has made a habit of overcoming adversity during the 2013 season, and a lightning delay gave the Patriots the jolt they needed to overcome another one. The Patriots came from behind to win the Section 5 Class A championship game against Webster Thomas, 9-6, on a rain-soaked Tuesday night at St. John Fisher College.

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  • The Penfield boys’ lacrosse team has made a habit of overcoming adversity during the 2013 season, and a lightning delay gave the Patriots the jolt they needed to overcome another one. The Patriots came from behind to win the Section 5 Class A championship game against Webster Thomas, 9-6, on a rain-soaked Tuesday night at St. John Fisher College.
    The No. 4 seed Patriots fell behind 5-3 in the second quarter before outscoring the second-seeded Titans 6-1 the rest of the way, picking up the fourth Section 5 championship in school history and avenging a Class A final loss to Fairport last year.
    “All the credit goes to the guys,” Penfield coach John Schembri said. “They fought and they wanted it really bad. They got a taste of it last year, and as soon as the game ended last year they said, ‘Coach, we want to go back,’ and all the credit goes to them. They got back and they did it.”
    Senior attackman Andrew Schoeneck led the Patriots with three goals. Junior midfielder Mitch Standera dished out three assists, earning tournament MVP honors.
    Penfield opened its season 0-5, losing to Thomas, Class B champion Canandaigua, Section 3 powerhouse West Genesee, and Long Island foes Comsewogue and Sachem North.
    Schembri said the Patriots also dealt with several key injuries throughout the season — with 12 players missing multiple games — making his team stronger for the postseason run.
    “We’ve seen about everything you can throw at us,” Schembri said. “You think you’re going to be a really good team and then you become an average team. The best thing it did is it provided an opportunity for other, younger players to play and develop, and they got good, and then when our guys came back we had depth.”
    Penfield wasted no time getting out of the gate Tuesday. Connor Russell won the opening faceoff and found Schoeneck for the game’s opening goal 6 seconds in.
    Thomas responded with goals 27 seconds apart from Nick Schuman and Jake Guidice, both assisted by Justin Bird, to give the Titans an early 2-1 lead. John Hill added a goal to make it a 3-1 lead before Standera found Brian Wall for a goal that brought Penfield within one.
    Penfield tied the score at 3 early in the third when Schoeneck found Jonathan Spaan, but Thomas replied with goals from Guidice and Bird to take a 5-3 lead.
    Charlie Cummins brought Penfield within one amid pouring rain, before a lightning strike halted the game for more than 30 minutes with 1:59 left in the half.
    Schembri said his team was ready for any situation, and emerged from the break rejuvenated.
    “We had a rain delay against Hilton in our first sectional game,” he said. “So we told the kids to be mentally prepared for everything.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Standera sparked Penfield’s offense in the second half, assisting goals by Russell and Wall 53 seconds apart to give Penfield a 6-5 lead midway through the third.
    Schoeneck’s third goal made it a two-goal game at the end of three, as the Patriots held the Titans scoreless in the quarter.
    Anthony Mitchell scored after connecting with Spaan on a nifty give-and-go 4:08 into the fourth, before Schoeneck added his third 21 seconds later.
    Penfield’s defense held Thomas scoreless for nearly 23 minutes before Carter Jordan scored the game’s final goal with 6:47 remaining.
    Goalie Liam Guiton made several key saves in the closing minutes to preserve the win for the Patriots. Schembri said Guiton always gets stronger as games go on.
    “If you could have seen the transformation this young man has made from October until now, you wouldn’t believe it,” Schembri said. “It didn’t just happen by accident. He’s one of the hardest-working kids on the team, and he put the time in and he knew how important it was to these seniors and he filled the void, and I couldn’t be prouder of him.”
    Guidice scored two goals, and Bird had a goal and two assists for Thomas (16-3).
    Penfield (12-7) will play the winner of Wednesday’s Section 6 final between Orchard Park and Clarence Saturday at 6 p.m. in a state quarterfinal at Fisher.
    Schembri said his team’s triumphs this season give it the proper perspective as each new challenge arises.
    “Our kids came out and beat a really good team tonight, so I’m proud of them,” he said. “I haven’t really looked past any game this year because when you start 0-5, you don’t have the luxury to look past teams. We’ve been taking one game at a time.”
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