Rusty Red shreds LAX Unlimited in final |

Rusty Red shreds LAX Unlimited in final

Nate Peterson
Bret Hartman/Vail DailyGeorge Taylor, left, and Kevin McCuster, right, of Lacrosse Unlimited battle for the ball with Rusty Red's Gerry Byrne Tuesday during the Masters final at the Vail Lacrosse Shootout at Ford Field. Rusty Red won, 13-5.

VAIL – Rusty? Defending Masters champion, Rusty Red, was anything but in Tuesday’s 33-and-over final at Ford Field, dicing up Long Island’s Lacrosse Unlimited in a 13-5 rout.Led by Masters’ MVP Brian O’Keefe, the team made up primarily of Cornell alumni turned a first-half shootout into a second-half blowout, unloading for seven goals to Unlimited’s one in the final 24 minutes.O’Keefe said his team’s fast-break offense, which was ignited by a stingy defense that forced 27 Unlimited turnovers, was the difference.”Our midfielders were really running really hard today,” he said. “They picked it up a lot in the second half and we finished pretty well on the attack. I think our defense is very active, very aggressive and they started to progressively take the ball away and get the ball up the field faster in our transition game.”

O’Keefe gave his team an early 2-0 lead in the first quarter, pumping in goals off assists from Tim Goldstein and Brian McCormick. The Unlimited duo of Kevin McCusker and Rocco Guglielmo evened up the score shortly thereafter.With 2:14 remaining in the first quarter, McCusker fed Guglielmo in front of the net. Guglielmo then returned the favor less than a minute later, flicking a pass to McCusker who slung a low shot from his hip for the equalizer.McCusker then gave Unlimited its only lead of the game with 10:20 to go in the second quarter, converting an assist from Tim Boyle for a 3-2 lead. Rusty Red, having allowed its early lead to evaporate, rallied back with three consecutive scores. O’Keefe netted a hat trick on the second of those two goals, pushing his team’s lead to 5-3 with an unassisted scoring run with 4:22 remaining in the half.

The two teams then traded goals, giving Rusty Red a hard-fought 6-4 lead at the half. The second half played out in a completely different fashion.The lopsided final score was the result of a number of factors, but none was more noticeable than Unlimited’s inability to continue to run with its opposition. After three long days of lacrosse, the final two 12-minute quarters were a grind for both teams. Rusty Red got stronger, though, as Unlimited wilted from fatigue. The champs had 10 fewer turnovers and made the opposition pay for its numerous second-half turnovers by using a quick-strike transition offense that led to good shots on goal.”We allowed them to fast break and we didn’t possess the ball on offense and that moved us into a position where we didn’t get a lot of goals in the second half,” McCusker said afterward. “We’re all highly conditioned athletes to begin with, but between (the altitude), the night life, and the day life, there’s only so much you can take. You need a vacation from the vacation. We did our best and we never quit.”Goldstein arguably outshone his own team’s star and the tourney MVP in the second half, adding two assists and a goal.

Teammates Mikey Cavuoti and Jim Rogers also finished with two goals apiece.While there have been considerable roster changes during the three championship runs for Rusty Red, Goldstein said that the team’s success stems from the core group of six-to-seven players who have been playing lacrosse together since their college days.”That’s the style I like to play – a fast-break, transition game,” Goldstein said. “One guy feeds and the other guys work hard to be in the right spot to get a goal. … We certainly like to win and we know how to win. At Cornell, we were very successful and we had undefeated seasons. That’s attributed to teamwork. It’s not about individuals.”Nate Peterson can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 608, or via e-mail at, Colorado

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