Hudson Valley Sports Report

HIGHLAND BOYS RALLY FOR WIN

Lacrosse Team Improves To 10-2 By Beating Valley Central

By Jack McElduff
Special to HVSR

HIGHLAND – The Highland High School boys lacrosse team has shown its dominance all season long, winning several games by huge margins (see the 17-1 win over Middletown last Monday for reference.)
However, the Huskies are also eager to show they can grind out wins, even when they don’t get off to the best of starts. That’s what Highland managed to accomplish on Wednesday, falling behind 2-0 to Valley Central before coming back to record a 6-5 victory.

“I can’t say enough about these kids,” Highland coach Tom Schlappich said. “Grit is one of the things we hold as one our key values on the team…they’re here every day at practice, busting it out.”

The win was emblematic not only of Highland’s sheer ability this season, but also in past seasons as well. Once of Class B, Highland took home sectional titles in 2015 and 2016 before switching to Class C before the 2017 season. The Huskies were unfazed by the class change and continued to assert their dominance, winning two more sectional crowns in 2017 and 2018. Now, for a team looking to nail down its fifth consecutive Section 9 title, the Huskies will take wins any way they can get them. According Schlappich, it comes down to sheer determination.

“I just think that we’re resilient,” he said. “We may not always be the best team, but we put ourselves in a position to win games. They believe in themselves, they believe in the coaches, we all believe in each other, and we never get down.”
That refusal to quit was evident on Wednesday. After a defensive, physical start to the first quarter, Valley Central broke through for two goals to take the lead on the road.

Highland attacker Chris Hammond, who registered a goal for the Huskies in their latest victory, spoke of the successful adjustments made by his squad.

“We changed up our offense,” Hammond said. “We put some wrinkles in on one of our sets, and it worked.”
With changes made, the Huskies tied the game at two going into halftime. Highland would eventually take a 4-2 lead late in the third quarter, but the Vikings pulled off three consecutive goals to take a 5-4 lead.

However, as is usually the case, the Huskies found a way to respond, scoring twice late in the fourth quarter to tie and, eventually, win the game. Christian Canino, who led the Huskies with four goals, fired a laser with just 1:37 remaining to give Highland a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

After a 10-2 start, the Huskies are certainly primed for at least another long run in the section. Hammond credits the team’s chemistry, which he feels is a result of familiarity with each other.

“We only lost a couple guys,” Hammond said.  “We have a main set that we’ve had for a few years.”

Highland has suffered just two losses on the year, but they were to Minisink Valley and Warwick, both league opponents for the Huskies. According to Schlappich, earning redemption against these squads could be the difference between another long sectional run and an early summer.

“If we want to have success and continue our season, we’re going to have to play at least one or, hopefully, two of those teams,” Schlappich said. “We have to take care of it on our end…hopefully the ball will find the back of the net for us.”

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