Cambridge’s Riley Stefanovich (right) hits Johnstown midfielder Marshall Manchester during Tuesday’s game.
Cambridge’s Riley Stefanovich (right) hits Johnstown midfielder Marshall Manchester during Tuesday’s game. (Adam Samrov / Bennington Banner)

CAMBRIDGE, N.Y. -- After a terrible first half in which they got down 5-0 and looked all out of sorts, Cambridge Central School boys lacrosse head coach Tom Pillsworth and assistant Geoff Hoffer talked to their team for about a minute and a half.

"After that, I said, ‘It's up to you guys. It's potentially the last two quarters of the season, so talk to each other,'" Pillsworth said. "I have no idea what they said, but it definitely worked."

No. 4 Cambridge scored six times in the final quarter, roaring past No. 5 Johnstown, 7-5, in a Class C quarterfinal on Tuesday.

"We all got in a group, the seniors and captains [leading] and said we didn't want this to be our last game," said junior Chris Warnke, who led the Indians with three goals. "We wanted to play at least one more time and that hit close to home."

Cambridge started its comeback with 3:05 left in the third quarter as Jarred Sausville finally beat Johnstown goalie Zack Simone to get the Indians on the board after 33 minutes of play.

"After the first goal, [we were like] he could be beat," Warnke said. "It was tough, but we got the shots in the right spots and had enough to beat them."

As the fourth quarter started, the momentum continued to shift the way of the orange and black. Ryan Jeskie made a nice move on his defender to blast one past Simone -- who had 17 saves -- and make it 5-2 Sir Bills with 10 minutes left.

With a resurging confidence and urgency as time ran down, Jeskie scored again with 6:01 left off an assist from Sausville to pull within two.


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"It felt great. It was a huge confidence boost, the entire team at that point [felt] confident enough to do it and pull it out," Warnke said.

Cambridge kept the pressure on, with Zack Martin winning the next faceoff and putting Johnstown on its heels. Working the ball around, a cutting Warnke found the back of the cage with 5:21 left to make it 5-4.

"Zack has been our faceoff man all year," Pillsworth said. "The [kid he was facing] was tired and Zack wasn't. He outdid that kid, he had the energy."

Minutes later, Warnke nearly tied the game, but Simone made a nifty save with his feet and the Johnstown coaches screamed for a timeout with 3:24 left.

After the stoppage, Warnke deked his defender and put a shot past Simone to tie it at 5-5.

"Early on, they were going to shut Chris off," Pillsworth said. "I told [Chris] to run ‘em, run ‘em and run ‘em. He was so exhausted, but the defender playing him was more tired. That was the difference."

But the Indians weren't content with the tie. Martin won yet another fourth quarter faceoff and found Warnke for the go-ahead score with just under three minutes to play.

"Chris is one heck of a player, he turned it on in the fourth," said Johnstown coach Scott Petrie. "We did a good job of him overall, but at the end, [Cambridge] had the upper hand."

The Sir Bills won the next faceoff, but Cambridge senior defender Kiel Kyer put the kibosh on any attempt at a tying tally, snagging a ground ball and starting the Indian offense in transition.

Kyer got the ball upfield to Jeskie, who found a cutting Sausville in the middle for an insurance score with 2:41 left. The Indians scored the tying, go-ahead and insurance goals in the span of 30 seconds.

"We definitely needed it, after [scoring] the [tying and go-ahead] goal, the defense did the rest, got the ball back for us, and Jarred put us up by two. I think that secured it for us," Warnke said.

Petrie said that once the momentum went Cambridge's way, his team struggled to catch its collective breath.

"I just wanted the heart and hustle; I knew they had more legs than us," Petrie said. "We've been running all year with a short bench, I think it got us today."

Austin Brand was the main scorer for Johnstown with three tallies, but leading scorer David Fahr was held off the board.

Winners of nine in a row, Cambridge travels Friday to face Glens Falls, the top seed in Class C. Glens Falls has won the past four Class C championships.

"Glens Falls is a good team, we know they are bigger and better," Pillsworth said. "We're a good team, good at every position. If we can play hard, we can take it to Glens Falls. They put their pants on the same way we do."