Two weeks ago, the Vestal boy’s lacrosse team captured their third-straight section championship, and 8th in the last nine years.
Now, they find themselves in almost uncharted territory, however they’ll be going up against a familiar foe.
“1, 2, 3, Bears!”
On Wednesday, the Vestal boy’s lacrosse team will get on a bus and make the two and a half hour drive to St. John Fisher College in Rochester.
What awaits them there is an opportunity, an opportunity to do something that has never been done in the program’s history.
The Golden Bears are one win away from becoming the first Vestal boy’s lacrosse team to make it to the state championship game.
However, what stands in their way is a buzzsaw of a team.
The saying goes ‘To the victor go the spoils’ and over the past four years, that victor has been the Victor Blue Devils.
They’ve mowed down their competition, including four-straight state championship appearances and three titles.
A team that Vestal head coach Chris Dutkowsky and his squad have a lot of respect for.
“Everywhere on the field. From goalie to D to offense, face-offs. There’s talent all over. They’re well coached. They’re just a big team and they’ve been here before. They’re very comfortable in this environment and this type of a game. So, obviously that makes them who they are and what they’ve been able to do. But, I mean, it’s a big opportunity for us and I think we’re ready for it,” he says.
Despite knowing the degree of difficulty that lies ahead, the team seems confident and prepared according to senior captain J.T. Stirpe.
“We’re definitely coming in focused because that’s the main thing that you really have to focus up on. It’s definitely a big game and there’s not really a lot of joking around. Even the bus ride up is going to probably be pretty quiet,” Stirpe said.
A quiet confidence and laser focus is the formula Vestal is hoping will lead them past Victor…and obviously, a lot of goals.
They’ve gotten contributions from everyone this season, with Aaron Tebo leading the charge, and he has a theory as to why.
“When we dodge, a lot of guys are drawing attention. So, they can’t just double us quick. We can move the ball. Everyone can shoot, everyone’s a threat. So, that definitely confuses the defense,” Tebo says.
They’re going to need everyone to be a threat to pull off the win Wednesday.
But, Dutkowsky believes that the work the team has put in before and during the season has built them into a team that can handle Victor and the moment.
“It’s like we’ve been saying, everything you’ve done, everything in the winter, travel, all that, it’s for opportunities like this. To play at this time of the year, because this is what it’s all about. This is why you play. I don’t think it’s too big of a moment for these guys. I think they’re ready. Our practices have been great and I hope it carries over,” he said.
There may be carry over from a couple years ago for some members of the team.
The Blue Devils bounced the Golden Bears from the state semis in 2017 11-5 en route to a state title.
Obviously, the Bears hoping for a much different outcome this time around.
#4 Victor and #8 Vestal meet Wednesday at St. John Fisher College with game time set for 6:30 pm.