ARMONK, N.Y. – After the final second had ticked away in Pelham lacrosse’s 8-6 playoff loss at Byram Hills on Tuesday, the two sides reacted quite differently. The Bobcats rushed to the center of the field, cheered and embraced while the Pelicans hung their heads and comforted one another.
After the customary post-match handshakes, Pelham coach Mike Solazzo paced near the Pelicans’ bench for a few moments before he briefly addressed his players, some of whom will never play for him again as they will graduate later this year.
“I’m a teacher, and not everybody’s a teacher at the same school that they coach at. I like to say I’m closer with my guys than anybody else in the section,” Solazzo said. “I love these guys. And it’s going to be really tough. The next class will fill in from there, but I had a very special relationship with this class.”
Pelham’s senior-laden defense led the team to a highly successful regular season with a 13-4 record and the No. 5 seed in the playoffs. But the Pelicans lost a back-and-forth game on Tuesday and their season came to an end in the Class C quarterfinals.
Fourth-seeded Byram Hills scored on a fluke goal in the final seconds of the first quarter when one Bobcat fired the ball at the net from the far 30-yard line. The ball took an odd bounce right past the goalie and tied the game at one.
The Bobcats led, 5-4, at halftime and 7-5 in the fourth. Pelham cut the lead to 7-6 but Byram Hills retook a two-goal lead and shut Pelham down the rest of the way to advance to the semifinals to face the winner of the Putnam Valley-Bronxville matchup.
Pelham has one of the youngest lacrosse programs in the section, as it has only existed at the varsity level for 10 years. The success of this season was certainly a step in the right direction for the program, but Solazzo said a win over the Bobcats, who made it to the section championship game last year, would have made a difference in the overall feel of Pelham’s season.
“We had a pretty successful regular season. We really wanted this game to really kind of solidify things,” Solazzo said. “It’s still a great season. Especially ending it like this is, it’s tough…but you kind of can’t get that upset, especially when your guys gave their best effort.”