Powell Game of the Week: Liverpool vs Westhill
Being back on the lacrosse field just feels right. The warmup music, the shooting drills, and the yells of the teams getting themselves psyched up for the first game of the season gets my blood pumping.
High School lacrosse is finally up and going in the Upstate New York area and I was lucky to catch one of the first games between Liverpool and Westhill on March 29th.
This was our first Powell Game of the Week where we will be coming to one game every week in the Syracuse area all season. I’m pumped to see some of the best lacrosse in the country.
I grew up playing high school lacrosse in the Detroit suburbs, went to college and lived in Buffalo for 9 years, and just moved to the Syracuse area 3 months ago so it's going to take me some time to work on my knowledge of the local rivalries. But I could feel the excitement of the players on both teams as they got ready for their first battle of the 2023 season.
The sun was out as the Liverpool squad made their way down to their home field for warmups. They rounded the corner of midfield for their pregame lap and were jumping up and down and loud. Westhill rolled up on their bus and walked off with their gear on ready to go. They made their way to the field calm and collected.
The parents and fans filed into the stands and the national anthem played through the loudspeakers. The anxious moments during the anthem is always a chance to collect yourself before a game. Thinking about the first play and your matchups. The goosebumps and feeling unstoppable.
The first whistle blew for the faceoff and it was game time.
Liverpool attacked immediately with three quick goals. The first was a sweep over the top from #11 Dominick Osbeck. #1 Joey Sacco then found a seam to fire a bouncer into the top corner. Next freshman #22 Brady Michaud slung a righty cannon for the first goal of his career. That must’ve felt good.
Westhill responded with a run of their own thanks to their faceoff man #33 Luke Savage and #10 Luke Gilmartin. Savage won some scrappy faceoffs going up against a few different Liverpool players trying to beat him. Westhill runs through Gilmartin and it was his turn to dodge straight to the net and score. He then found #11 Charlie Demore who scored on the man up.
This back and forth play would be the trend throughout the game as Liverpool would seem to start running away with it after a few goals, but Westhill would keep chipping away to keep the score close.
#23 Aaron Clouthier scored some big juice goals for Liverpool with some great on the run jump shots that had some heat on them. The Warriors offense is very balanced from their Attack through the Midfield with slick dodgers like Osbeck and Owen Michaud. #7 Mason Gridley was a workhorse all game playing on the faceoff wings, playing defense, and scoring 2 clutch goals.
The matchup between Liverpool’s LSM Gavin Kenna and Gilmartin was awesome to watch all game. Gilmartin is a savvy and fearless dodger and he is coming off a run in the state basketball playoffs. You can see it in his style of play. Kenna has good footwork and an active stick that helped him land a perfect takeaway check on Gilmartin later in the game.
The goalies also tried to outdo each other with Westhill’s Keller O’Hern standing tall as Liverpool peppered him with shots. He wasn’t afraid to get involved in the clear and pull out the toe drag. #17 Owen Salanger made some incredible saves throughout the game that ended up being the difference and kept Westhill at bay.
It was a scrappy game with tons of ground ball battles and big hits as both teams got their feet under them in their first game. The refs also weren’t afraid to let the penalty flags fly.
There were several moments that ended up shifting the tide in the game.
One was a no goal call after Gilmartin dodged to the middle of the field and let a backhand shot go that went bar down. The refs said no goal, but looking at the video it looks like it was over the line.
Late in the game Liverpool’s backup goalie Trevor Smith had to step in for a 6 on 4 man down situation after Salanger got a penalty. The defense stepped up big to stop Westhill from even taking a shot.
In the 4th Quarter, immediately after a Westhill goal from Gilmartin, Liverpool responded by winning the faceoff and with some tic tac toe passing found Gridley for a step down.
A few other notes:
-#18 Emmet Starowicz for Westhill also contributed some nice goals with one coming from the inside and another he snuck over Salanger’s right shoulder in a perfect spot on an alley dodge.
-Loved seeing the great support from parents and students from each school in the stands supporting their squads
-I forgot that you still have to touch the ball into the box in high school lacrosse
-I almost got run over by a ref on the sideline as I got a little too close to the line. Sorry Mr. Ref
I’m excited to see how these two teams get better as they season goes along and I hope that I’ll get another chance to see them play later in the season or even the playoffs.
Which games in the Upstate New York area should we feature as our Powell Game of the Week this season?
Watch the highlights from Liverpool vs Westhill below: