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Few Rocklanders have wielded a lacrosse stick as artfully as Scott Finlay. Winning face-offs, beating goalies from every conceivable angle, setting up teammates with precision passes – Scott exerted his dominance on the field at Nyack High School and Army West Point en route to a record-setting, Hall of Fame career.

Scott is just the the third athlete whose primary sport is lacrosse to be enshrined in the Rockland County Sports Hall of Fame. He was preceded by 2002 inductee Kris Snider, Suffern class of 1974, who dueled with Scott multiple times during some epic Nyack-Suffern clashes from 1972 to ’74; and Jon Hess, Nyack class of 1994, who was inducted in 2006.

In the fall Scott toiled on the gridiron as a middle linebacker and kicker for Nyack’s football team, meriting honorable mention All-Rockland County notice in his senior season. The winter found him zipping up and down local hockey rinks for three years on the Nyack varsity. He was a major contributor to the Indians’ 1973-74 Hudson Valley Hockey League championship team and filled in admirably as goalie the last three games of his junior year, posting two shutouts.

Lighting It Up in Lacrosse

The springtime heralded the arrival of lacrosse season, when Scott’s talents shone brightest. He was a three-time All-County midfielder (center middie) who attained high school All-America status his senior year, when he led Nyack to the RCPSAL co-championship with archrival Suffern. During that season, Scott, a tri-captain, won more than 80 percent of his faceoffs and set a league record with 29 goals. His long-distance goal, reportedly shot from 40 yards downfield, sealed Nyack’s 7-5 victory over Suffern and helped clinch the PSAL co-championship. Nyack finished the season at 15-2.

Scott established a Rockland County record for career goals with 109, a mark since broken, and wound up with 141 points (goals plus assists). In the All-County article in The Journal-News at that time, Nyack Coach John Whisker lauded him for his leadership and scoring capabilities: “He has great moves out front and the best shot in the league. He made our offense go.”

Believe it or not, Scott originally intended to spend his spring seasons with a pole-vaulter’s pole in his hands rather than a lacrosse stick. But when classmate Russ Frazier introduced him to the wooden stick with cat-gut side walls and a lacrosse ball during a study hall in the old Nyack H.S. auditorium their freshman year, Scott was hooked. “Just messing with that stick for a few minutes changed everything,” says Scott, who showed up with Russ for lacrosse practice that day at Nyack’s Hilltop Junior High.

Harking Back to a Golden Era

The memories of his high school lacrosse days are vivid and plentiful. He savors the bonds forged on the playing fields, some that carry forth to this day, with teammates such as Ken Gray, Bill Sterns, Brian Perry, Paul Matrafalio, Nestor Nestoros, and future brother-in-law John Sommi. He recalls the first game his then-girlfriend and future wife Veronica saw him play: opening game, senior year, under the lights at Nyack’s MacCalman Field. All he did was torch the nets for eights goals against an All-America goalie in a 13-4 victory over Sleepy Hollow.

Scott also remembers the keen competition with Suffern, the perennial County PSAL and Section 9 champion piloted by Hall of Fame coach John Orlando and powered by attackman Kris Snider, who later starred at the University of Virginia. At Nyack, Scott was the beneficiary of first-rate mentorship from head coach John Whisker and assistant Alan Pesner. “Coach Whisker encouraged me to impose my will on the game,” says Scott, who stands 5-foot-11 and weighed 185 to 190 pounds in high school. “As I entered my senior year he said he needed me to shoot the ball more. He gave me the green light. He also encouraged me to play at the next level.”

Bound For Greatness at West Point

That next level turned out to be the United States Military Academy at West Point, which fielded a highly competitive Division I lacrosse program. Coach Orlando had coached at Army and proved influential with the Army coaching staff during Scott’s recruitment. Scott led the Black Knights in scoring all four years, was never held scoreless, and finished his career as West Point’s all-time leader in goals and total points. He rifled in 140 goals and amassed 186 points in 46 games, an average of more than 4 points a game. His career goal-scoring record stood for 35 years, not toppled until 2013.

As an attackman for Army lacrosse, Scott made third team All-America in both his junior and senior years. He was honored to receive the 1978 Richard Seth Award, as the player designated by a vote of the U.S. Naval Academy’s lacrosse squad to be its most outstanding opponent. Scott was also named MVP of the 1978 North-South All-Star Game, scoring four goals and three assists, to become the only Army player ever to earn that distinction. Another source of pride was his selection as a starter in the 1979 Superstars of Lacrosse Game at Johns Hopkins’ Homewood Field, a contest that pitted all-star units from college and club circuits. He tallied three goals and two assists and scored the first goal of the game on a fast break off the opening faceoff.

Scott and his class of ’78 teammates were instrumental in reversing Army’s lagging fortunes after the Black Knights captured the national championship in 1970 and made the national semifinals in ’71. When Dick Edell assumed head coaching duties in 1977, Army re-established itself among the nation’s elite programs. The team finished with a No. 9 national ranking that season, just missing the eight-team NCAA tournament despite edging Princeton 9-7 in the last game of the season, sparked by Scott’s 5 goals and 1 assist. He racked up 43 goals and 17 assists in 11 games to lead the attack. The following year Army rose to No. 5 nationally and made the NCAA tournament, losing in the quarterfinals to No. 4 Navy, 16-13. Scott poured in 49 goals and had 21 assists in 13 games in the ’78 campaign. [Edell later retired from the coaching ranks as No. 5 in career victories in Division I lacrosse and a two-time Div. I Coach of the Year. He died in 2018.]

Honoring A Military Commitment & Transitioning to Private Industry

In his fifth year at the academy, Scott took advantage of an opportunity to serve as an assistant coach to Coach Edell. However, the administration would not approve his early return from a European assignment to resume coaching until he completed his initial five-year obligation. He had already been accepted into the Army Flight School Program, so he left coaching behind and attended the Rotary Wing Flight Training Program. Stationed in Fulda, West Germany, Scott commanded two aviation companies as part of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment’s Combat Aviation Squadron. The squad’s mission was to perform daily aerial reconnaissance of about 230 miles of the border between East and West Germany.

Scott, who earned a Bachelor of Science, General Engineering degree from West Point, resigned his commission in 1986 and accepted a position with Lehman Brothers Investment Bank. At Lehman he eventually rose to Managing Director responsible for all risk equity trading for U.S. markets. Concurrent with that role, he ran a proprietary trading business committing the firm’s capital in publicly traded companies, and later operated another proprietary trading business at CIBC Capital Markets. After retiring from the financial markets in 2001, he founded a business in 2003 that is now a healthcare information technology company focused on creating inter-operability between proprietary systems.

Scott, who is 67, lives in Bridgewater, N.J., with his wife of almost 44 years, Veronica. The Finlay family has four children – Kristin, 41; Michelle, 39; Valerie, 34; and Keith, 32 – and five grandchildren. Scott has sincere words of endearment for his high school sweetheart: “My wife Veronica is the best thing that has ever happened to me. She is an amazing woman, a phenomenal wife, friend, sister, mother and grandmother.” He noted Veronica has been named Somerset County Woman of the Year and been recognized by several organizations for her contributions to the community.

The acclaim from the Rockland County Sports Hall of Fame comes on the heels of Scott’s induction into the Nyack High School Athletics Hall of Fame in 2017 and his prior enshrinement into the Hudson Valley Lacrosse Hall of Fame. Welcome to the RCSHOF Class of 2024, Scott Finlay!