For the past several weeks, the Rochester Knighthawks have been front and center on the local high school lacrosse scene as part of a weekly series featuring the latest news and notes, scores and stats of select games around the Greater Rochester Area.
The series finale features the 10-1 Victor Blue Devils visiting the 7-5 Pittsford Panthers in boys’ lacrosse action Wednesday.
Victor comes into the matchup after suffering just its first loss of the 2021 season, a 7-5 decision to Canandaigua Academy in a battle between two Section V powerhouses on Monday. Prior to Monday’s setback, however, the Blue Devils had won 10 straight to open the season, including a 17-0 shutout victory over Webster Schroeder back on May 17, and 16 of their last 17 games overall dating back to the 2019 season.
Victor’s high-powered offense features five players with 20 or more points already on the season, including leading point-getter and senior attackman Cal Lambert, who leads the Blue Devils with 35 goals and 47 points in 11 games this season. Lambert, who’s committed to attend West Point later this Fall, has averaged more than three goals-per-game since opening the season with a career-best nine-goal effort in the 13-8 win over Hilton.
He anchors a Blue Devils offense that has outscored its opposition 143-56 over the course of the season, including 89-33 in the first half.
Defensively, Victor is led by senior goaltender Zach Pavia, whose .526 save percentage ranks among the best for all Section V netminders.
Led by first-year head coach Dan Stone, the Blue Devils have dominated the local lacrosse scene in recent years, winning an unprecedented six straight Section V titles since 2014 in addition to four New York State championships over a six-year span during the team’s rise to prominence.
Since the 2015 season, Victor’s lacrosse program has gone on to produce six US Lacrosse All-Americans, including three that earned the distinction in back-to-back years. Among them include brothers Chayse (2017-2018) and T.D. Ierlan (2015-2016) and Jamie Trimboli (2015-2016). The trio remain the only three players in program history to earn All-American honors in consecutive years.
Chayse, who also backstopped the Victor hockey team to a state championship in 2018, is a three-time First Team All-Greater Rochester selection and was named the 2018 All-Greater Rochester Male Athlete of the Year. Chayse set the school career records in wins (50), lowest goals-against average (1.70), and highest save percentage (.953) on his way to leading the Blue Devils to five Section V championships and three state titles. As a senior, he was named the New York State Player of the Year, the All-Greater Rochester Player of the Year, and the Monroe County Player of the Year, becoming the first and only Section V lacrosse player to win all three honors in the same season.
Chayse currently attends Cornell University while his brother, TD, is a graduate student at the University of Denver, where he remains one of the top face-off specialists in the history of NCAA Division I lacrosse. Recently drafted by the Redwoods in the 2021 PLL Collegiate Draft, TD is a three-time All-American, a two-time First-Team All-American and was a Tewaaraton Award finalist after splitting his first four years between the University of Albany and Yale.
Former Victor team captain Nick Montemorano recently helped the R.I.T. Tigers win their first NCAA Division III National Championship on May 30.
Other notable Victor boy’s lacrosse alumni include Patrick Barrow (Albany) – Sutton Boland (Penn State) – Mitchell Cain (Loyola) – Patrick Carrozzi (Mercyhurst) – Regan Endres (Albany) – Zach Estabrooks (Seton Hill) – Matt Gardner (Boston U) – Cameron Germain (St Bonaventure) – Camden Hay (Albany) – Tanner Hay (Albany) – Tucker Hill (MCC) – Chayse Ierlan (Cornell) – T.D. Ierlan (Denver) – Austin Jobson (St John Fisher) – Connor Keenan (Fairfield) – Sam Lambert (Le Moyne) – Alexander Mabbett (Johns Hopkins) – Nick Montemorano (RIT) – Shea Newell (Mercyhurst) – Anthony Pezzimenti (Canisius) – Joey Pezzimenti (Albany) – Richie Pierpont (Clarkson) – Joey Pogoda (Temple) – Griffin Randall (Nazareth) – Ethan Roberts (Seton Hill) – Alec Russell (Le Moyne) – Jamie Trimboli (Syracuse) – Cam Yost (Oswego).
Pittsford enters the contest having won four of its last five games with its only loss over that span coming in the form of an 8-6 loss to Spencerport back on May 22.
After a 44-point season as a sophomore in 2019, senior attackman Harrison Cross has seemingly picked up right where he left off in 2021. Cross, an All-Greater Rochester Honorable Mention and an All-League Second Team selection, currently leads the Panthers in all offensive categories in goals (33), assists (20) and points (53). Cross has recorded at least one point in every game this season and has failed to find the back of the net just once all year long. He’s posted hat tricks in five of his 12 appearances this season highlighted by a career-best six-goal effort in a 17-9 win over Greece.
Senior goaltender Sean Ragan has played all but 17 minutes between the pipes for Pittsford, boasting 89 saves and a .489 save percentage.
Pittsford’s lacrosse program is one of a few that have ties to both the former and current Knighthawks franchises. Andrew Whipple, the team’s veteran head coach of 16 years who’s guided the Panthers to three Section V championships since 2011, is a product of the National Lacrosse League having spent time with the Albany Attack, Washington Power and the original Knighthawks alongside his brother, Craig.
Prior to turning pro, Whipple played his four years (1995-98) of collegiate lacrosse at the University of Maryland. He was named a USILA Third Team All-American as a senior in 1998. He was a two-time Honorable Mention All-American in 1996 and 1997. He was also named the ACC’s Rookie of the Year in 1995 and earned All-ACC honors in 1996. He was also named to the NCAA All-Tournament team in 1997. Whipple led the Terps to the NCAA championships game three times in 1995, 1997 and 1998.
He finished his career as the eighth all-time leading scorer in school history with 190 points. He ranks tied for 12th in all-time goals with 93 and seventh all-time in assists with 97.
Pittsford’s connection to the current Knighthawks comes by way of former two-time US Lacrosse All-American and two-time NCAA National Champion Jared Conners. Conners, who recently captained the University of Virginia to its second straight National Championship, was selected by the Knighthawks in the third round (45th overall) of the 2020 NLL Entry Draft.
A two-time Inside Lacrosse All-American selection, Conners registered 35 points (20+15) and scooped up 278 ground balls while appearing in all 77 games over his five seasons with the Cavaliers, whom he led to NCAA National Championships in 2019 and again in 2021. It marked the program’s first-ever repeat and third title since 2011.
As a senior, the 6-foot-5, 210-pound defenseman scored three goals with one assist, earning Inside Lacrosse All-American First Team honors despite only appearing in six games prior to the cancellation of the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He was also one of four team captains for the Cavaliers.
It was during his time in high school that Conners established himself as one of the most dynamic lacrosse players to come out of Rochester. A four-year letter-winner at Pittsford, Conners was named an Under Armour All-American and was twice named a US Lacrosse All-American. He also earned First-Team All-County and All-Greater Rochester honors in addition to being a two-time Section V Defensive Player of the Year selection. As a senior, the two-time captain was listed as the fourth-best defenseman in the country and was ranked among the top 20 recruits overall by Inside Lacrosse.
Other notable Pittsford boy’s lacrosse alumni include John Avery (Utica) – Matt Bender (OCC) – Brecken Catalano (Allegheny) – Gavin Catalano (St Johns) – Thomas Cincebox (Nazareth) – Jared Conners (Virginia) – Ben DiGiovanni (Dartmouth) – Nick Dominic (SUNY Cobleskill) – Ryan Dumont (Oswego) – Connor Fitzgerald (Tampa) – Andrew Forte (GCC) – John Galbraith (Colgate) – Michael Gigantelli (St Lawrence) – Bernie Haims (Oswego) – Connor Haims (Le Moyne) – Trevar Hall (Tufts) – Frank Imburgia (Hobart) – Sonny Imburgia (Binghamton) – Jeremy Jacob (Nazareth) – Jack Kaufman (Union) – Michael Mascitti (Geneseo) – Chase Morley (Adelphi) – John Mozrall (RIT) – Jake Robinson (Buffalo) – Matthew Rodenhouse (Baldwin Wallace) – Patrick Sanna (Clarkson) – Nathan Strauf (Ohio Northern) – Patrick Sullivan (Lenoir-Rhyne) – Dylan Sulzbach (Penn State) – Jordan Testa (Brockport) – Sammy Thomolaris (Seton Hill) – Connor Thornton (Rollins).