By Gene Morris
LILacrosseNews.com, Posted 6/22/12
Some of the best and brightest lacrosse talent was on display during the Long Island Showcase Rising Seniors game Thursday evening at Adelphi University.
For all the offensive firepower that was present it was the defense and goaltenders who stepped up to help Suffolk County come away with a 6-5 overtime victory over their rivals from Nassau.
Suffolk’s 2013 class can graduate next year knowing it never lost to its Nassau counterparts in any of the three showcase games.
Co-MVP Casey Hickey of Westhampton scored on a great individual effort halfway through overtime to help Suffolk preserve its unblemished mark.
The victory was extremely important to the Suffolk squad – witness team members Tim Rotanz (Shoreham-Wading River/Maryland, Co-MVP) and Brian Balkam (Smithtown East/North Carolina) among others – playing despite having committed to their respective colleges.
“This is my third year playing in the showcase – it’s great to beat Nassau and show that the real powerhouse of Long Island is in Suffolk,” Balkam said.
Suffolk took a 5-2 lead with 6:40 remaining in the third quarter on a goal by Northport’s Sean Gilroy, but Nassau rallied to tie it at five in the fourth quarter. The two teams played scoreless lacrosse for the final 18:50 in the final quarter and into overtime until Hickey ended it with a low bouncing shot that beat Syosset’s Ryan Feit.
“You kind of just have to fight through your nerves and go back to your skill and how you’ve played the game up until the point where it gets really close there,” Balkam said. “It’s crazy; there’s not much to describe it.
“Your nerves are going and you’re excited and you want to win. You just do whatever it takes to win.”
Andrew Keith (Syosset) led Nassau with three goals.
After the offense supplied by the Rising Juniors in the first game, this one was a change of pace. Both teams went through long scoring droughts and each defense stood strong, something Suffolk coach Mark Spruyt of Bay Shore was not surprised to see.
“That means the defense is really good right now,” Spruyt said. “The first year I coached this we won 19 to something and we had a really good offense – it depends on the group. For this group – I’ve been coaching them since they were sophomores – they really were hoping to win the third.”
Beyond the battle for bragging rights, Spruyt said that a high number of the Rising Seniors had not yet committed to a college and were soaking in all the extra exposure from the game.
“Surprisingly, not many are committed,” he said. “They actually have some openings and we’ve been talking to some of the (college) coaches and they’re looking at a lot of these guys. It’s a good showing they put on tonight.”
But for each and every Suffolk player, no matter where they end up, they’ll still be able to hold three straight victories and an undefeated record over their counterparts from Nassau.
“When they go to college they’re going to have those bragging rights and they’ll enjoy them,” Spruyt said.
Balkam summed it up ever more succinctly.
“It’s all about beating Nassau.”
Suffolk Rising Seniors 6, Nassau Rising Seniors 5
Game winner by Casey Hickey of Westhampton in overtime
Scott Scannell: 1 goal – Smithtown East
Jesse Parker: 1 goal – Half Hollow Hills East
Casey Hickey: 1 goal – Westhampton
Patrick O’Brien: 1 goal – Smithtown West
John Trainor: 1 goal – Northport
Sean Gilroy: 1 goal – Northport
John Diaz: 1 goal – Syosset
Andrew Keith: 3 goals – Syosset
Paul Bentz: 1 goal – Massapequa