Michael McGuinness had seen it before. In James Madison’s semifinal game against No. 4 Stuyvesant, Jesse Banham came flying around the back of the net and scored to the far side post to give the Knights an overtime win.
“I kind of just expected it,” McGuinness said. “I expect him to pull through.”
So there was Banham again coming from the back of the cage and putting one in low and close to the post to give James Madison the lead for good in the PSAL Class B boys’ lacrosse final with 4:57 left in the game. Confetti was thrown from stands by the Madison fans after the score.
“Before the fact I am thinking about it, but after that I’m just going on instincts,” Banham said. “I can’t even remember what happened. I just see it go in and I put my hands up.”
The top-seeded Knights’ defense made it stand up as they came away with a 4-3 victory over No. 3 Lehman at the Aviator Sport Complex Sunday. The victory gives Madison its first title in program history.
“Slowest five minutes of my life,” Banham said. “I was listening to [the crowd] count. They ended the count before it was actually over on the scoreboard. It worked to our advantage. The other team gave up when there was like three seconds left.”
Those final ticks got a bit tense as Lehman (6-6) gained possession and called time out with 22.8 seconds left to set up one final play. The Lions created a good chance, but Julio Ortiz’s pass to an open Mario Cortes to the left of the crease went high and the Knights (11-1) were able to run out the clock.
“We made the last two playoff games the most dramatic games I’ve even been in,” said McGuinness, who had a key strip down the stretch. “I almost had a heart attack both times.”
Lehman took a 1-0 lead, but Madison responded with two straight goals. Michael Ryan scored off a pass from David Mendez and Banham scored to make it 2-1 with 4:06 left before half time. Lehman than answered with two scores of its own and went up 3-2 with 2:26 remaining in the third when Matt Percoroni scored off a pass from Michael Oppenheimer. Lions goalie Luiny Escano, who made 12 saves, frustrated Madison all game making tough saves and a few low ones the Knights did not expect.
“I didn’t expect him to stop what he was doing,” McGuinness said. “He was stopping them today. It was a surprise.”
Madison got enough by him though. Mendez scored off a long clear to tie the score at 3-3 with 11:13 remaining in the fourth before Banham put the Knights up for good. The title had an extra special meaning for the senior and teammates Nazariy Davydovych, Volodymyr Davydovych, and Ryan. The four lost to Petrides in this year’s PSAL wrestling final and would not let another opportunity pass them by.
“We weren’t going to let two happen in one year,” Banham said.
He made sure of that by just doing what he always does.
“He doesn’t have a powerful shot, but he knows where to place the ball all year we told him get inside and get it low,” Madison coach Tom Mobilia said. “He does it all the time.”
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