CAMBRIDGE, N.Y. — The Cambridge boys lacrosse team came together at halftime of its Class C quarterfinal against Hoosick Falls on Saturday with the game tied.
According to Cambridge coach Tom Pillsworth, 90 percent of the conversation was about defense.
"If they are doing their job, they get the ball back to the offensive guys and we can score," Pillsworth said.
A seemingly simple formula that turned out to be successful, as the Indians outscored the Panthers by four in the second half to top Hoosick Falls 12-8 and advance to face No. 1 Greenwich in the Section II, Class C semifinal.
The Indians scored the first three goals after the break to get its biggest lead of the day. Brad Geroux tallied first to give Cambridge the lead, then a couple moments later, Kordell Benson made it 8-6 with 7:48 to go in the third.
Thirty seconds later, Max Ratelle got the ball right off the faceoff, got it to Max Hoffer, who sent it back to Ratelle for a power play goal and a 9-6 advantage.
Hoosick stemmed the tide moments later when Cole Votra fired a shot past Cambridge goalie Christian Hunt to cut the advantage to 9-7 but Zach Rowland scored off another assist from Hoffer — Rowland's only goal of the afternoon — to make it 10-7 at the end of the third quarter.
"We like to work that balance. Zach made a difference handling the ball," Pillsworth said. "We knew Brad could do it, we just had to get him to and Cody [Oldham, 3 goals] is a machine."
"We wanted to slow the ball and pace the game, because we know Cambridge is good at the fast break and the man up," said Hoosick Falls senior Noah LaBarge. "They were [watching the ball], so we wanted to get some cuts from the X and get goals from there."
In the fourth quarter, Cambridge put the nail in the coffin with a pair of goals in the first six minutes of the period. First, Geroux scored his third of the day with an assist from Rowland for a four-goal lead and then Hoffer added his second goal for a 12-7 advantage with six minutes left.
Hoffer had five assists to go with his two goals.
"Max is the playmaker, they shut him off in the second half [scoring], but then Kordell and Max [Ratelle] stood in, and so did Zach," Pillsworth said. "It was a team effort, the chemistry is there. They got together last week and said this is what we're going to do."
Remington Hickey scored his second goal of the day with 3:11 left, but Cambridge held on to advance to face Greenwich on Tuesday.
In net, Cambridge goalie Christian Hunt had 10 saves, making his best plays in the second half as Hoosick continued to pressure on offense.
"Having Christian back after an injury kept him out for half the season has been a blessing," Pillsworth said. "I feel extremely comfortable with him in goal, he's always going to give us the best game you can possibly give."
In the first half, the teams traded scores as Hoosick Falls took a 4-3 lead after the opening 12 minutes. LaBarge, in his final game of his career, scored twice in the first half. Cambridge tied the game at 5-5 with Hoffer's first goal and then Hoosick re-took the lead as Caleb Jones scored on an assist from Hickey but Oldham knotted the game at 6-6 with a goal at the 4:26 mark of the second quarter.
"I give a lot of credit to [Hoosick Falls coach Mark] Marquart and the Hoosick Falls team," Pillsworth said. "They've grown and got better every game. We knew they would come in loaded for bear and they did and they played a strong game, until [we pulled away] with about 5 minutes left. "They had us on the run, but we stood up and played the game we've been practicing for."
LaBarge was reminiscent after the game.
"My career started here in Cambridge [in the youth program], so it's good to end on this field too," LaBarge said. "I think we surprised a lot of people this year and [the program] looks good for future years. We gave Cambridge a good game and I'm proud of the team and Coach Marquart for getting us here."