Joseph Madrazo took one quick look back as he raced up the near side with the clock winding down and a defender at his heels. What he saw was Midwood coach John Murphy waving him toward the net as he made up his mind to keep his feet moving.
“My man was a couple of feet behind me,” the junior said. “I saw the goalie. I knew the game was tied, a couple of seconds left. I just shot as hard as I could.”
He bounced a shot in low from 10 feet out with nine seconds left, his third goal of the game, to give the Hornets a thrilling 9-8 win over host Cardozo in both teams’ PSAL Blue Division boys lacrosse opener Thursday, March 18.
It is the start of a season that is filled with plenty of question marks for a Midwood team that lost in overtime to New Dorp in the PSAL Class A final last year.
“They are all going to be asked to do more,” Murphy said of his young team. “When we started this year they were told, ‘You have not one set position. You need to learn them all.’”
The Hornets lost 11 seniors from last season and return none. They do bring back plenty of talented pieces, especially on offense, to again be among the PSAL’s elite. Junior attack Artur Zych, who scored five times against Cardozo and had 22 goals last year, is the unquestioned focal point of Midwood’s offense.
He is a dodger who combines speed and strength and posses a quick and accurate shot. He scored two straight third-quarter goals to give the Hornets a 5-3 lead, and added two more in the fourth to extend the advantage to 8-6 with 3:19 remaining. Zych, though, has help around him in Madrazo, junior Blake Kotch and converted faceoff man Christopher Doyle, a sophomore.
“There is no secret to us right now,” Murphy said. “Everybody knows it. We haven’t even played them and what are they doing, right off the bat – locking him off.”
The Hornets biggest holes will be on defense. Physical senior long pole Leon Zavos is the long regular returning. Murphy believes junior Farhad Nezamy can have a big impact on that side of the field. The rest is still a work in progress, outside sophomore goalie Albert Dmochowski. Midwood saw Cardozo score twice in the final 1:10 and tie the score at 8-8 on Jason Chen’s fifth goal of the game with 20.9 seconds remaining.
“Once we get some games going and some scrimmages, I guess we will get more experience and follow up,” Zych said.
The Hornets still have not forgotten New Dorp’s Andrew Fiore scoring less than 2:00 into overtime to break their string of three consecutive crowns. It’s a memory that even with a young team they hope to erase.
“It’s very, very strong in my head,” Madrazo said. “That last game, one point in overtime, it sticks with you.”