A goal by Jacob Lewis (Dryden/Dryden H.S.) with six second left in overtime made a winner of the Panthers lacrosse team in its 2019 season opener Wednesday. Looking to build on a strong 2018 season that saw the Panthers ranked in the top ten in the nation, the Tompkins Cortland started 2019 with a thrilling 14-13 overtime road win at Finger Lakes Community College. It's the second year in a row the Panthers have opened the season with a Region III and Mid-State Athletic Conference win. Finger Lakes is now 1-3 overall. It was the opener of Region III and MSAC play for the Lakers.
The 2019 Panthers field a small roster that includes just three sophomores, but what the team lacks in numbers and experience, it makes up for in heart. With no substitutions available, every player that dressed Wednesday played the entire game. Despite the fatigue, the Panthers were able to come through in crunch time.
Dante Cuttino (Tully/Tully H.S.) started the scoring with a goal in the third minute of play, but Finger Lakes scored the next two goals to lead 2-1. Lewis and Josh Canaan (Tully/Tully H.S.) combined to score the final three goals of the quarter to put the Panthers up 4-2 after one.
Canaan stretched the lead to 5-2 to open the second and Pat Hartnett (Cortland/Cortland H.S.) added a goal later before Finger Lakes had the final two goals to cut the Panthers lead to 6-5 at the half. The third quarter started with consecutive goals by Hartnett, Canaan, and Cuttino to give the Panthers the biggest lead of the game at 9-5. Two Finger Lakes goals were answered by another Hartnett score to close the quarter with the Panthers up 10-7.
If the Panthers ever looked tired, it might have been to start the fourth quarter. The Lakers scored four straight to take the lead at 11-10. Harnett stemmed the tide with a goal, but the Lakers answered to recapture the lead. This time it was Cuttino who came through with the equalizer, following that up with another score to put the Panthers up 13-12 with 2:40 left in regulation. The joy of the lead lasted just seconds as the Lakers wasted no time in tying the game back up, and after neither team could find the net over the final 2:35, the game went to overtime.
After winning the faceoff, the Panthers opening shot was wide, giving the Lakers a chance. Some great saves from Tompkins Cortland goalie Ben Pallone (Cortland/Cortland H.S.) covered for some Panthers turnovers, setting the stage for Lewis to end the game with just a few ticks left on the clock.
Hartnett led the Panthers with four goals and four assists, while Cuttino had four goals. Canaan and Lewis each finished with three goals. Pallone was solid in goal, earning the win with 24 saves.
The Panthers play at Monroe Community College on Saturday. The game in Rochester starts at 1 p.m.