It’s safe to say there wasn’t a shot Luiny Escano hadn’t seen last week. His teammates made sure of it.
“Every day until the championship they practiced close shooting at me,” the Lehman goalie said. “Every type of shot possible to get me ready for this game.”
Added coach Patrick Straw: “Friday he probably took 300 or 400 shots.”
The extra worked certainly paid off. Escano, a sophomore, made 12 saves and frustrated James Madison’s attack early. He allowed the Lions to stay in the game and they even took the lead in the third quarter. The Knights, though, got a late, fourth-quarter goal from Jesse Banham and survived a scare to hold off Lehman, 4-3, for the PSAL Class B boy’s lacrosse city championship Sunday at Aviator Sports Complex.
“He played phenomenal,” Straw said. “It’s by far his best game all year long. … He’s got a lot of potential. From where he started at the beginning of the year to now he has grown tremendously.”
No. 1 James Madison (11-1) came into the game thinking they could beat Escano with low shot. On this day, he was excellent at picking them off and knocking them away, making a few tough saves on bounce shots. Escano had two key stops in the third that helped No. 3 Lehman (6-6) take a 3-2 lead on a Matt Percoroni goal off a pass from Michael Oppenheimer with 2:26 left in the quarter. Nicholas Acosta scored to tie the score at 2 on a feed from Mario Cortes earlier in the quarter.
“I didn’t expect him to stop what he was doing,” Madison’s Michael McGuinness said of Escano. “He was stopping them today. It was a surprise.”
David Mendez scored early in the fourth to tie the score for Madison and Banham came around the far side of the net and put one in to give Madison the lead for good with 4:57 remaining in the game. Lehman, which failed to take advantage of three man-up opportunities in the fourth, had a chance at one last good look. Julio Oritz’s pass to an open Cortes on the left crease was off line and Madison was able to run out the clock.
“It was a pretty good look the end of the game,” Straw said. “It was just a high pass.”
Hector Diaz, Juan Guerrero and Steven Crespo lead a solid defensive effort. The Lions were physical and hard hitting and challenged nearly every Madison shot.
“Against Long Island City [in the semifinals] they came out and hit like absolute animals,” Straw said. “That showed me that they could do it here.”
The game proved Lehman can compete with the division’s elite and on a much bigger field than their home turf. Madison beat the Lions, 9-5 and 9-3, during the regular season.
“We tried our best but our best wasn’t good enough,” Escano said. “Next year we will come back and try to win the championship again.”