Editor's Note: In every sport and at every level of competition, there are individual games so steeped in legend, so populated with superstars and underdogs, so thrilling in action and unexpected in outcome, that history has come to mark them as the "greatest ever played." Consider "the Miracle on Ice" at the 1980 Olympics or the fabled 1958 Colts-Giants championship in Yankee Stadium -- these are games forever etched in fans' memories as the apex of their respective sports. For the high school lacrosse faithful of Yorktown, N.Y., a cross-town match up in the spring of 1991 fits such a bill. When BroBible first heard about this game and its lofty status, we were both intrigued and skeptical. So we asked Brian Carcaterra, a future Yorktown player himself, to interview nearly a dozen players involved, check the box scores and record books, research the history of the rivalry, and even consult newly found archive game footage recently posted on YouTube. Ultimately, we discovered that the game lived up to its "greatest ever" billing, which is precisely why we're sure there will be swift and forceful objections from those in the Brommunity. (Long Island and Baltimore laxers, we're looking at you.) Think you've witnessed or played in a high school lacrosse game even more epic? Sound Off in the comments, Unleash your story in the Brommunity, or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
[inline:vid1]The YouTube video above is misleading. First of all, there's no sound. Well, there's plenty of overdubbed AC/DC -- that's "Hells Bells" followed by "Back in Black," in case you're wondering -- but all that Australian hard rock masks the true sounds of the game: the crunch of another big hit by Ric Beardsley, the Yorktown coach's controversial call for a stick check on Lakeland's star attackman, the roar of the crowd after every goal. Come to think of it, where is the crowd? That's video misconception #2. Shot from the top row of the Yorktown High bleachers, we only see the fans who are ringing the far side of the field. Yes, they're stacked a few rows deep against the fence, but the couple hundred fans over there betray the standing-room-only throng of several thousand fans over here, all fighting with the intrepid cameraman for precious elbow room. And can anyone actually spot Mr. Murph, who was surely patrolling the endzone that spring day, watching a sport he brought to this town, cheering for players he taught how to cradle a ball, taking in the annual cross-town showdown named just a year earlier in his honor?
Let's not overstate things: sound, vantage point, and Mr. Murph's whereabouts notwithstanding, this YouTube video is a treasure. Uploaded last month by Yorktown alum Frank Branca, the nine-minute, 57-second highlight reel of the 1991 Charles D. Murphy Cup between Yorktown and Lakeland high schools captures in full 425x344-pixel glory perhaps the greatest high school lacrosse game ever played. And while the action is intense and the goals spectacular, the story behind this game -- and in turn this video -- is just as compelling.
* * *In 1991, as the first Persian Gulf War, the Rodney King-sparked L.A. riots, and the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union all unfolded around the globe, Yorktown, N.Y., was at the center of the high school lacrosse universe. The rivalry between the Westchester County town's two high schools was and remains fierce no matter what the sport and no matter what the year, but the schools' lacrosse teams in 1991 simply overflowed with talent. "It turned out being more like the lax equivalent of the McDonald's All-American Classic than a lax game between two small-town high schools of 1,000 students each," explains Yorktown's Paal Elfstrum. He's not kidding. Ten of Elfstrum's 11 fellow starters went on to play for D-I programs. Three players -- Roy Colsey, Brian Kuczma, and Matt Dwan -- were named first-team All-Americans, with both Colsey and Kuczma nabbing National Player of the Year awards at their positions (midfield and defense, respectively). Four others -- Rob Kavovit, Dave Marr, and Ousman Greene, plus Elfstrum himself -- earned their own All-American honors, with Marr becoming the all-time leading assist record holder at Johns Hopkins and Kavovit tallying record point production in NCAA tournament play as a member of Syracuse's 1995 National Championship squad. Henry Weithake and brothers Rocco and Anthony D'Andraia all started, captained, and excelled on their respective college teams, while Paul Smith became a D-III All-American and multi-year National Champion at Salisbury State. Although the Lakeland roster didnt capture as much success in the college ranks as their Yorktown counterparts, attackman Anthony D'Marzo went on to become a four-time All American at Delaware, breaking many school records in the process. Ric Beardsely, a four-time All American himself and two-time National Champion at Syracuse, became one of the greatest and most feared defensemen to ever play the game. To put the magnitude of these two teams' talent in further perspective, in the previous summer's Empire State Games, the Olympics of New York scholastic lacrosse, the Hudson Valley team pulled from about seven counties, but fielded a starting squad comprised entirely of Yorktown and Lakeland players. The team won the gold medal easily, thumping both the stalwart Long Island and Central NYS region squads. A summer later, in 1991, the U-19 USA World team tryouts was held in advance of the 1992 World Championships. Seven players from the town of Yorktown (Jason Foley, Rocco D'Andraia, Marr, and Colsey from Yorktown High, and Beardsely, D'Marzo, and Christian Johns from Lakeland) were invited to tryout and compete for a spot on the 22-man roster. All seven player made the team -- nearly a third of the squad -- a feat never to have occurred before or repeated since. [inline:murph]The concentration of lacrosse star power in this small New York town can be attributed almost entirely to Charles D. Murphy, known affectionately as Mr. Murph to every kid in town who ever strung up a head. Born in 1912, he was a standout midfielder on Princeton's 1934 squad. He brought lacrosse to Yorktown in 1965, when he took up residence on an apple orchard, and made his home and his land available for coach Jim Turnbull's early Yorktown practices and scrimmages. He also gifted the school a check for $500 to buy equipment, making him the founding father and role model for all Yorktown players past and present. There was rarely a practice, a scrimmage, a game, even a team dinner where Mr. Murph's elegant presence -- eternally silver haired and clad in LL Bean -- wasn't felt. He's also credited with jump-starting the sport's development throughout Section 1, the area of southeastern New York comprised of Westchester, Rockland, Dutchess, and Putnam counties, from which came many of the greatest lacrosse players and coaches (including Frank Vitolo, Yorktown alum and coach of Lakeland in 1991) to ever play the game. Look closely near the left-hand endzone in the YouTube video, and you'll in fact find Mr. Murphy watching the culmination of his years of passion and dedication to the sport play out on the field in front of him.
* * *"This game was my first experience of the Yorktown-Lakeland rivalry," says Yorktown's Brian Kuczma, now the head coach at nearby Putnam Valley High. "It was hyped up during the summer when most of us played together for a gold medal at the Empire State Games. Then, in front of thousands of people, it came to fruition as arguably the two greatest high school teams in history played. This game ranks as one of my all-time memories playing lacrosse. I still get excited when watching it 18 years later." No wonder. Lakeland jumped out to a 5-0 lead, dominating first-half play, prompting half the packed house to go wild and leaving the home-field faithful in stunned disbelief. Senior Ric Beardsley, Lakeland's "monster" of a defenseman, as Yorktown's Roy Colsey calls him, was a huge factor. "People watch the video and think I was a monster," laughs Beardsley. "I think looking at it now I was a bit on the big side..." [inline:virg]Adds Yorktown's Rob Kavovit: "I remember it was an intense game, and Ricky B walking the dog up the sideline saying, 'Catch me if you can, little boy,' as I was riding him up the sideline. What a dick. Got to love him." "During that game I talked shit," admits Beardsley. "Yeah, I said it, I talked shit. Hell, why not? I could back it!" He sure could, but like the other players on both squads, Beardsley's fierce intensity only manifested itself between the lines. "Each year my attackman match up was a good friend," the defenseman explains. "In 1989 I guarded now well-known TV soap star Andy Kavovit; in 1990, I guarded one of my good buddies, Steve Carcaterra; and in 1991, I guarded friend and future Yorktown Head Coach Dave Marr. In 1990, I was at Steve Carcaterra's house eating with him and his family three days before the game. On the field we played hard and to win; off we were all the best of friends." The feeling was mutual across the centerline. "Both teams fielded good friends and great competitors," says Yorktown's Elfstrum. "Everyone on that field would have given back their recently lost virginity to win that game."
* * *In the third quarter, Yorktown managed to nudge the score to 5-2. That's when the turning tide became a sudden swell. In probably the most dramatic moment in the rivalry's history, Yorktown Coach Jim Turnbull called a stick check on Lakeland star attackman Anthony D'Marzo. The ref threw a flag and gave him a three-minute unreleasable penalty. It turns out that D'Marzo applied two ball stoppers to the plastic of his stick, making it easier to secure the ball from takeaway checks by defenseman Jason Foley. "The stick check was BS!" says D'Marzo, who still notched four goals and two assists on the day. "But it is a rule, so we paid the price. You can't go down a guy for three minutes against that Yorktown team of talent and expect to come out ahead." Whether the stick check was the deciding factor in the game is still debatable. Says Paul Carcaterra, who in later years would become Yorktown's all-time leading goal scorer and an All-American at Syracuse: "Although it played a role in determining the contest, it was evident all season that we would make runs on all teams throughout games. That penalty was early enough in the game where if the run didn't happen then, it would have later." Of course, a run is precisely what followed, as Yorktown took control of the game, scoring three goals in those three minutes and five goals in the second half, ultimately grabbing the lead. "I scored one of my favorite goals ever on a breakaway in the 4th quarter," remembers Yorktown's David Marr. "There was also one of my most embarrassing moments in the fourth quarter, when I threw the ball to the ref. Turn over." With Yorktown in stall mode late in the game, another Yorktown player also botched an easy pass, and Lakeland's all-everything attackman Christian Johns scooped up the ball in front of the goal and capitalized to tie it. Overtime awaited. Yorktown struck first with Marr scoring his fourth goal of the game, but since OT wasn't sudden death at the time, still another stanza remained. In the second OT, the battle between Yorktown's Colsey and Lakeland's Beardsley -- as captured in the YouTube video and in the players' memories -- was epic: two heavyweights battling mano a mano. With Colsey trying to run out the clock, and Lakeland desperately needing the ball, Beardsley started throwing checks that were, in one player's words, "15 years ahead of their time." But Colsey hung in there, and his perseverance ultimately paid off, as he finally got around Beardsely and found net for the third time. Lakeland would close the gap in the waning seconds, but it wasn't enough. Yorktown captured the 1991 Murphy Cup by an 8-7 final. Later that season, Yorktown captured its first of three straight Class B New York State Championships (and four in five years). Lakeland finished as the runners-up in the Class A State Championships. Seven years later, Mr. Murph was inducted into the U.S. Lacrosse Hall of Fame; in 2005, he passed away, leaving a lacrosse legacy that crossed both generations and school rivalries. He also left one hell of a YouTube video.
[inline:vid1]------ To help identify some of the highlighted players in the video, here are their corresponding pinnie numbers. Lakeland: Ric Beardsely -- Green, 47 Christian Johns -- Green, 11 Anthony D'Marzo -- Green, 37 Yorktown: Roy Colsey -- White, 9 Dave Marr -- White, 13 Rob Kavovit -- White, 15 Ousman Green -- White, 21 Paal Elfstrum -- White, 35 Jason Foley -- White, 33 Henry Weithake -- White, 30 Rocco D'Andraia -- White, 7 Anthony D'Andraia -- White, 44 Paul Smith -- White, 17 [Mr. Murph photo courtesy US Lacrosse Hall of Fame]