By Gene Morris
LILacrosseNews.com, Posted 6/2/12
West Islip went into halftime trailing Syosset 4-2 in the Long Island Class A championship game today at Hofstra University.
Coach Scott Craig addressed his team, telling them exactly what was at stake. “It didn’t have a lot to do with lacrosse,” Craig said. “It had to do with challenging them as a group and how they wanted to write history, whether they were going to be willing to work for what was necessary for them to be successful.”
The message got through to the Lions, who scored nine consecutive second half goals and held the Braves scoreless, to win the Long Island Class A championship 11-4. West Islip (19-1) advances to play Niskayuna in the semifinals on Wednesday.
“We looked up like what is going on?” junior Nick Aponte (1 goal, 2 assists) said. “We had no energy, no nothing.
“Coach just left it up to us and right away Dylan Illario took charge and he gave the most emotional speech and that was the spark that we needed. We should have been playing like that the whole game but he sparked us. After the first faceoff we got on a roll and we just kept going.”
The Lions’ roll got started when Aponte fed Tom Moore for a goal just 35 seconds into the second half to bring the score to 4-3. Jon Reese scored 1:55 later to tie the game and the Lions added two more goals late in the third to go up 6-4 going into the fourth quarter.
It’s not this group – for some reason we’ve had a third quarter tradition,” Craig said, noting the Lions propensity over the years to play better after the first half. “I don’t know what it is, I’m not an advocate of it by any means because it really put a lot of strain on us but the fact that we go through half time and we still have the ability to come out.
“I told them at halftime that four goals would not win this game so whoever is going to win this has not scored their last goal. It’s going to take a lot more than that to win the game.”
The Lions didn’t stop in the fourth quarter as Tom Moore scored three of his five total goals to give the Lions enough breathing room to bring in the backup goalkeeper late in the fourth.
“I think a big factor to shutting them out was controlling the ball on offense,” Craig said. “We played so much more offense in the second half then we did in the first half and obviously your offense could be your best defense and I thought in the second half of this game it was.”
Niskayuna, the Section 2 champion, whipped Mamaroneck, 23-3.
The Lions win advances them to the state semifinals where they will meet Niskayuna. But now West Islip is playing with house money.
“The first thing our kids said after the Ward Melville game (Suffolk County title game) was that we did not want to be the first team (to lose in states),” Craig said. “When you win eight (county titles) in a row there’s a lot of pressure to win that game – you don’t want to be the team that didn’t get it done. In our world winning Suffolk County is getting it done.”
West Islip 11, Syosset 4
West Islip: 1-1-4-5-11
Tom Moore: 5 goals
Brendan Smith: 3 goals, 1 assist
Nick Aponte: 1 goal, 2 assists
Jon Resse 1 goal, 1 assist
Anthony Deluca: 1 goal, 1 assist
Ryan Wieczorek: 1 assist
Jack Kelly: 9 saves
Alex Hatzopoulos 2 goals
Andrew Keith: 1 goal
Taylor Kalbacher 1 goal
Ryan Hunter: 1 assist
Ryan Feit: 9 saves