BUFFALO, N.Y. – Mike Andreassi scored just one goal on the first day of the Empire State Games. That singular number might seem out of place in the box score next to one of Long Island's most offensive-minded lacrosse stars. But turn up the volume and you'll hear the rest of the story.
The Sachem North rising senior attack pelted the goal with one shot after another. Some rang ear-splittingly loud as they reverberated off the cage. Others left lasting impressions on the opposing goalie. Like a prolific scorer on the basketball court, Andreassi kept on shooting. And while he didn't connect, Andreassi paced a Long Island offensive assault that wore out defenders.
Long Island's scholastic boys lacrosse team went 2-0 on Thursday at Canisius College with wins over host region Western, 10-4, and always-scrappy Hudson Valley, 13-7.
"We really pulled together, ran the ball around and got good shots," Andreassi said after the first game, which was a closer-than-expected 3-2 at halftime. "We were hitting a lot of pipe, which is a bummer. The shots came around and fell in the second half. And we put up 10, so it was a good game for the O."
Andreassi's quick-wristed score – part of a five-goal third quarter against Western – made it 8-2 with 4:34 left.
"Even the defensive guys were saying, 'Don't worry about it, the shots will fall,'" Andreassi said. "And in the second half they did."
Long Island has two more games on Friday. It faces Adirondack at 11 a.m. followed by the highly anticipated showdown versus Central under the lights at 8 p.m. With two winnable games left on the schedule – Adirondack and New York City – Long Island may have already positioned itself to reach the gold medal game.
If Andreassi feels bad about anything, it's that two Sachem North teammates were left home. Senior midfielder Jake Cabble was named an alternate while senior defenseman Alex Harris came down with mononucleosis.
"I would have loved for Jake and Alex to be here, but Alex got mono and Jake was unfortunately cut," said the UMass-bound Andreassi.
Long Island's head coach is none other than Sachem North's Jay Mauro, so the decision to head to Buffalo without two of his own was especially trying. Harris showed up at a youth lacrosse camp last week and begged for Mauro to let him suit up.
But Mauro, a former Sachem and Empire player himself, could identify with Harris' predicament. Mauro had a case of mono in the summer of 1998 and missed playing for team Long Island. As much as the coach wanted to bring Harris along – and the defensive-minded Mauro wanted badly to bring the talented defender – Harris was diagnosed with an enlarged spleen.
The risk was simply not worth the reward.
"It was the toughest thing I've had to do as a coach,'' Mauro said.
So errant shots on a day when Long Island put up 23 goals were the least of Mauro and Andreassi's concern. Their thoughts were with the teammates left behind.