It was a battle of long-time Long Island lacrosse rivals and in the end West Islip walked away with its ninth consecutive Suffolk County Class A title, defeating Ward Melville 9-6 Wednesday afternoon.
In a game played before the usual raucous crowd of West Islip and Ward Melville fans at Stony Brook University, the Lions outscored the Patriots 5-2 in the second half to take another Suffolk title back to Lions Path.
While the game was tied at four coming out of halftime, West Islip immediately took control as the Lions got goals from Tom Moore and Anthony DeLuca within the first minute of the third quarter to take a 6-4 lead.
“We had guys step up in the second half and play great,” said Scott Craig, West Islip’s head coach. “When opportunities presented themselves we took advantage.”
A quick timeout by Ward Melville head coach Mike Hoppey to try and stem West Islip’s momentum would work only momentarily. The Lions would extend its lead to 8-4 later in the third on back-to-back goals by Ryan Wieczorek.
The Patriots would outscore the Lions 2-1 in the fourth quarter, but West Islip’s defense would yield few good looks keeping Ward Melville shooters out high. Also, the Lions offense showed great patience in the final quarter, and had one possession that lasted more than four minutes.
The loss is a disappointing end to the season for No. 3 Ward Melville (15-4) who shocked the Long Island lacrosse world this past Friday with its 13-9 win over second-seeded Smithtown West.
“I think the (West Islip) game just came down to the fact that they made more plays than we did,” said Hoppey. “I felt we had as many opportunities as they did.”
He also felt there was no emotional hangover from the victory over Smithtown West. “This was a championship game,” he added.
As for Craig, he said this County title ranks “pretty high” among his nine.
“With our losses to graduation, we had to rebuild this team,” he said. “(Assistant coach) Bill Turri has done a great job all season with this defense and we held some of the best teams in the county to five or six goals throughout the playoffs.”
Up next for West Islip is Nassau Class A Champ Syosset for the Long Island Championship, which will be played Saturday, 3:30 p.m. at Hofstra University.1 2 3 4 F Ward Melville 1 3 0 2 6 West Islip 3 1 4 1 9