The story has been updated with quotes and additional information.
West Islip took home its fifth state title with a 12-7 win over Ithaca in the Class A championship game Saturday at Middletown High School.
The game was a microcosm of the Lions season; a slow start, strong goalie play to keep the team in the game, and then an offensive explosion in the third quarter.
West Islip fell behind in the first quarter as Ithaca took a 2-0 lead. But strong play by the defense and goalie Jack Kelly — selected as the defensive player of the game with 14 saves — kept the Little Red from extending the margin.
The Lions offense then came to life as four straight goals from Brendan Smith, Nick Aponte, Jon Resse and Anthony DeLuca put West Islip ahead 4-2.
"Even though Ithaca had the 2-0 lead we were still getting good looks on offense," said Scott Craig, West Islip's head coach.
Ithaca, which lost in the Class A title game in overtime a year ago to Farmingdale, would not go quietly and tied the game at four early in the third.
But West Islip then seized control of the game by scoring six straight goals in the third quarter to take a 10-4 lead.
"We have been a great third quarter team, and not just this year, but over many years," Craig noted. "But we also made some adjustments on where we were shooting on their goalie."
Throughout the first half several high shots from West Islip were stopped by Ithaca goalie Max Yavitt. The adjustment to low shots and bounce shots on the Little Red netminder by the Lions proved successful.
Aponte (3G, 4A) led the Lions in scoring and was named the game’s offensive MVP. Moore had three goals and DeLuca continued his strong play throughout the playoffs with 3 goals and 2 assists.
And for West Islip's seniors, the win was gratifying and the culmination of a great deal of hard work.
"This is what we wanted for 12 years, but it all comes down to one game," said Kelly, alluding to his time playing lacrosse in youth leagues and on the school teams.
Defenseman Anthony Santo, who was a member of West Islip's 2010 state championship team, said of this year's victory, "It's great when you're a senior. This team was tight, had great chemistry and played together."
And following their victory Satruday afternoon, they drove home together as state champions.1 2 3 4
FWest Islip 0 4 6 2 12 Ithaca 2 1 2 2 7
West Islip scoring: Nick Aponte, 3 goals/4 assists, Anthony DeLuca, 3 goals/2 assists; Tom Moore, 3 goals/1 assist; Ryan Wieczorek, 1 goal/2 assists; Jon Reese, 1 goal/1 assist; Brendan Smith, 1 goal; Anthony Santo, 1 assist