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Watertown edges Carthage in FL boys lacrosse thriller

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Leave it to a couple of sophomores to steal the thunder on Senior Night for the Watertown High School boys lacrosse team.

But Eric Soderquist and Bradley McKinney were more than happy to lend friendly and timely goals to their hard-working teammates, especially the defenders.

McKinney scored four goals, including the game-winner with seven seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, to lift the Cyclones to a 9-8 victory over Carthage in Monday’s Frontier League “A” Division clash at Case Middle School.

Oh, a couple of seniors helped out as well. Ethan Rowsam’s cross-field pass set up the winning goal, and goalie Matthew Netto was brilliant with 16 saves, including a pair of key, point-blank shots late in the fourth quarter when the game was tied.

Netto and Rowsam were two of nine seniors honored before the game.

Watertown defeated Carthage for the first time in more than six seasons in league competition, and takes over the “A” Division lead at 8-1. Carthage, whose 69-game FL winning streak was snapped almost three weeks ago, dropped to 8-2 in the league. The Cyclones are 12-1 overall and the Comets 10-4.

Dan Conlin led the Comets with three goals, while Joe Hayes had two.

Chris Gamble had given Carthage an 8-7 lead with 3 minutes, 11 seconds left in the fourth period before the Cyclones mounted their mini-rally.

McKinney fed Soderquist with a long, breakaway pass and Soderquist’s shot eluded Comets goalie Ryan Anderson for an 8-8 tie with 1:52 to go.

Watertown then had a couple of opportunities to get the go-ahead goal in the final minute, but a couple of shots misfired. However, the Cyclones retained possession.

McKinney made no mistake in the waning minute.

“I was just glad to step up for my senior teammates,” said McKinney, who also added three assists. “Ethan gave me such a great pass and I was able to put in a good shot.”

McKinney’s shining moment was a labor of love from hard work over the summer, when head coach Brian Navarra oversaw McKinney’s constant shooting drills at the net.

The results paid off with a resounding effect against the Comets.

“I think we spent three-quarters of the summer going over shooting,” Navarra said. “He has really improved in that aspect. He has gotten better and better.”

“It was great to get this victory and helped our confidence playing a very good team in Carthage,” McKinney said.

The game featured six ties and three lead changes. The biggest margin for either team was a pair of two-goal advantages for Watertown in the third quarter at 6-4 and 7-5.

Carthage controlled play, especially in the first and fourth quarters, but went only 2-of-10 on man-up situations overall. Watertown, meanwhile, was only 1-of-2 on the man-ups.

“It’s been one of those things all season,” Comets coach Kirk Ventiquattro said. “We have had problems converting and tonight was another case. But it was not the reason we lost the game. I was proud of our effort by the team, but disappointed in the result.”

Ventiquattro also took the blame for failing to call timeout after Soderquist’s tying goal.

“I should have done it, but I didn’t,” he said. “We needed to regroup at that time.”

The Cyclones came back because of Netto’s stellar play in goal all game along. The bulky goalie robbed Conlin with a leg save with 5:26 to go in the fourth in a 7-7 game, and about two minutes later, made another pivotal save on a close-in shot by Carthage.

“He has been our wall all year,” Navarra said of Netto. “We spent a lot of time defending in the first and fourth quarters and our defense was exhausted. But we played great team defense and Matt was amazing. He’s probably the best goalie to play here in my 30 years living here.”

“I was able the see the ball all the way,” Netto said. “Though we didn’t play our best game of the year and threw the ball away a few times, we played to our potential when it mattered the most.”

Carthage had won the earlier meeting, 11-5, thanks to a seven-goal second quarter. In that game, McKinney had a goal and an assist; Soderquist scored twice.

“You can see how Brad and Eric are coming together and making our team better,” Netto said.

Navarra said he couldn’t remember in recent memory the last time the Cyclones won a FL regular-season title. Watertown can make that a reality if it doesn’t stumble in the final three league games — against Indian River, Lowville and Immaculate Heart Central.

Anderson finished with eight saves.

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