All it took was one goal off the foot of senior forward Sean Sepe to take the West Islip boys soccer team past Half Hollow Hills East and on Monday afternoon and into the Suffolk County Class AA Finals.
The Lions (16-1-2) will face Brentwood, who eliminated West Islip last season, on Thursday, November 10 at 6:30 p.m. at the Dowling College Sports Complex.
At the 19:26 mark in the second half, Sepe, who's committed to St. Johns, planted the game-winning goal off an assist from midfielder Phil Denara. Suffocating defense and seven saves from Sean McAllister kept the Thunderbirds (16-2-1) off the scoreboard for the first time this season.
"I told them, it doesn't matter how you win, as long as you win," said Lions' head coach Ed Pieron. "I want to congratulate Hills East, they're a terrific team."
Thurderbirds' goalkeeper Jordan Gross had eight saves, his total since October 14.
The Lions participated in the finals four years ago, but lost to Half Hollow Hills West. They were determined to get back this year after coming so close last season.
"We came out strong in the first half, got a goal in the second, and we came out on top," Sepe said.
This was the third meeting between the two schools this season; the first game on October 10 went into double overtime and ended 1-1. The second game was on October 27, which Hills East won 3-1.
Head coach for East, Tiziano Carcone, was full of emotions as he huddled with his team, friends and family following the game. "I'm proud of my team," he said as he walked off the field.