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Midwood edges Judges in lacrosse title game

The Benjamin Cardozo Judges played last Wednesday in the inaugural Public School Athletic League lacrosse championship game, but they were hoping to make history of another kind. The Judges were looking to end the Midwood Hornets’ 13-year reign as city champions.

In the past, the PSAL lacrosse team with the best record at the end of the regular season would be recognized as city champions. Midwood has been that team since 1988, the inception of the program.

Midwood (8-2) still is the team to beat. The Hornets defeated the Judges, 8-6, in front of an enthusiastic crowd of nearly 200 at Midwood High School Field. Seniors Charles Castellano and Jonathan St. Jules made the difference in a seesaw game that was tied at 6 heading into the fourth quarter.

St. Jules, who finished his career as Midwood’s all-time leading scorer, tallied from 15-yards out, on an assist from Castellano two minutes into the fourth. St. Jules (three goals, one assist, 10 shots) returned the favor at 2:11 of the fourth when he drew the defense to the right side of the field and found Castellano in front of the goal.

Castellano (three assists) beat goalkeeper Mitchel Honig above the left arm to make the score 8-6, essentially clinching the title. Benjamin Kessel, a former defenseman who was converted to a goalie in the pre-season made 14 saves for Midwood. He made critical saves early in the fourth, but was not tested in the closing moments as the Hornets played keep-away with the ball.

“It felt great to win it on the field,” St. Jules said. “We had to bring it home to prove we’re still the best in the city.”

The Judges (7-3) had reason to think they could end Midwood’s championship run. The Judges were playing well heading into the playoffs and the two finalists split a pair of games during the regular season.

“The team knew it wasn’t invincible,” Midwood coach Stephen Basile said. “This game could have gone either way.”

The Judges’ confidence increased after they took a 3-0 lead after the first. Senior Michael Tran opened the scoring at 9:20 and added another goal at 5:40 of the first. In between his two goals, Luis Lopez scored from 12-yards out at 7:59.

“We were confident coming into the game,” said Tran, who in the fall will attend Binghamton University and play lacrosse for the first-year Division-I program. “Mistakes cost us the game. That’s frustrating.”

Midwood responded in the second with three unanswered goals by St. Jules, Joshua Mirrer and Aleksan Altshuler (two goals, one assist). The Hornets outshot Cardozo 10-2 in the second and seized control of the game long enough to get back in it.

“We broke down on defense and committed too many penalties,” Cardozo coach Lou Deciccio said. “It’s hard to win when those things happen.”

Before the PSAL playoffs, the Judges defeated the No. 2 Ivy League team, Horace Mann, and the Fordham Prep, the top-ranked Catholic team, in the Metro Region playoffs. The PSAL hopes the championship game will pave the way for more teams to join the league, eliminating the need for PSAL teams to compete outside their own league.

Reach contributing writer Adam Martini by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 130.

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