The third time was not a charm for the Scarsdale boys lacrosse team.
Over the last four years, the Raiders have faced and lost to Lakeland-Panas in the Section 1 Class A tournament three times. This year was another tight contest as the Raiders rallied back from a 7-5 deficit to tie the game 7-7, but Lakeland nailed down the win with a goal with 2:39 left.
Last year, Lakeland held off Scarsdale for a 10-9 win, despite the Raiders leading 6-3 at halftime. Scarsdale trailed 9-7 and cut the deficit to 10-9 with 25 seconds left, but the game-tying shot was saved by the goalie.
In 2017, the Raiders lost in the semifinals 8-7 to Wappingers. In that one the Raiders tied the game at 7-7 with 14 seconds left, but Wappingers scored with four seconds left.
The year before that was Scarsdale’s first trip to the semis since 1997. Against Lakeland the Raiders trailed 5-3 and 7-5, but tied the game with 7:53 left to play. Lakeland scored four unanswered goals for an 11-7 win.
Over that span, Scarsdale is 50-21. The Raiders have found regular season success, but continue to search for their first Section 1 finals appearance since 1972.
With Scarsdale on the ropes down 7-5, Lakeland-Panas was unable to shut the door. Oliver Krohn and Jackson Bornstein each assisted Andrew Bernstein, who scored twice to tie the game.
“As the clock keeps going down we had timeouts and we were just trying to make every opportunity count on the offensive end,” third-year head coach James Synowiez said. “We wanted to hold the ball a little bit and get everybody a touch because we played a ton of defense. When you’re on attack or a midfielder on the bench or you don’t have the ball in your stick you feel like you’re not involved. Once we got down there and ran a couple of plays and got the ball to some guys we knew wanted to have an opportunity to take a shot and they put them home, but that next one is the one that hurts.”
After the game last week, which dropped Scarsdale to 13-4, Synowiez found himself looking for answers.
“I’m trying to push the level to compete here every day and I don’t know if I’m pushing it too much, I don’t know if it’s not enough,” he said. “I’m just trying to find what that next step is. It’s not going to happen overnight, but the culture is changing. The seniors elevated what the expectations are. This is a core group that means a lot to us as coaches. When we started a lot of them were ninth-graders or eighth-graders. It’s a special group. I just wish it didn’t come to a halt this early.”
This has been a pattern over the last four postseason games.
“I think we’re our worst enemy,” Bernstein said. “I think Lakeland just happens to be the face that we played against. I don’t know if it’s that they have our number — I think it’s that we have our own number in the playoffs. I was talking to Coach about it after the game that if we had the answer we would be winning the section. Unfortunately we don’t. For now it could come down to heart and having all 24 want it more than the other team.”
After the game, Bernstein, Scarsdale’s all-time leading scorer, said he got goosebumps hearing a list of the things his team had accomplished over his four years.
“Special is the main word,” he said. “They always say to leave things better than you found them. I’m pretty confident saying the playoffs don’t exactly reflect that, but the regular season and the culture we built has changed this program. It was the seniors when I was a freshman, the seniors when I was a sophomore and a junior. And now it’s everyone who came and rose to the occasion this year.”
Bernstein ended his record-setting career with a school record 231 goals and 329 points, breaking the previous mark of 183 and 284 set by Alec Hufnagel in 2001. (Hufnagel had 101 assists.)
Bernstein credited the Scarsdale Youth Lacrosse program under Jay Cannell for the evolution of the varsity program, which started for Bernstein as a third-grader. The third-year varsity coaching duo of Synowiez and John Felix, a 2009 Scarsdale grad, has been the latest piece of the puzzle.
“They have changed the culture that we’ve had here,” Bernstein said. “They’ve changed the student-athlete experience for all the players and it’s changed the way we look at ourselves and the expectations we set.”
Scarsdale graduates seven seniors: the Killer B’s — Bernstein, Brosgol and Bornstein — plus Ben Klein, Simon Krohn, Will Maybaum and Zach Reyman. Synowiez could not overstate the importance of this graduating class.
“We’re graduating the highest scoring lacrosse player in Scarsdale history,” Synowiez said. “We’re graduating some guys that stepped up and did roles they had never done before and they wound up starting for us. We graduate starting attackmen, starting midfielders. We graduate Jack Brosgol coming off his best season in high school. I could go down the list. Ben Klein maybe isn’t on the stat sheet all the time, but he’s a vocal leader on the bench. It’s a really important seven kids we’re unfortunately going to be without next year.”
Scarsdale was a team that got contributions from all four grade levels.
“Freshmen starting and getting the jitters out, sophomores who hadn’t gotten a lot of playing time, hopefully it pushes them into the offseason knowing the expectation for next year is raising the bar even more,” Synowiez said. “We’ll just continue to set the level higher and higher and hopefully we get over the hump.”
The team returns face-off freshman Andrew Greenspan, freshman Leo Hoffman, sophomore goalie Sam Silverman and junior Oliver Krohn to name a few future stars.
“The program is headed in a great direction, I think,” Synowiez said. “To have all those kids contributing and understanding how to play in a big game and in a big moment — we won a bunch of one-goal games this season — says a lot about the resiliency we’re trying to teach and preach here.”
Bernstein hopes the team brings “heart” next spring and realizes the small senior class could not have accomplished anything without the contributions of the entire roster.
“We want to leave everyone with an expectation that not getting to the Section 1 championship isn’t OK,” an emotional Bernstein said after the game. “We always wanted to change that expectation of working in practices and I feel that’s something we really were able to do as I rose in age and the coaches rose in experience.”
He added, “Expectations are going to be high and I think they are going to fulfill them.”