For one half, West Islip played like the best lacrosse team on Long Island. Fortunately for the Lions, their domination in the second half of Saturday's Long Island Class A title game was more than enough to propel the team to victory.
Three days after winning its ninth straight Suffolk County Class A title, West Islip won its seventh Long Island Championship defeating Nassau champ Syosset 11-4 at Hofstra University on Saturday.
West Islip now moves on to the state semi-finals where they will face high-powered Niskayuna Wednesday back at Hofstra. Two more wins and it's a fifth state championship for the Lions.
The Long Island title game was two different games in one. West Islip was sloppy throughout the first 24 minutes and Syosset took advantage taking a 4-2 lead to the half. However, the Braves missed several opportunities to extend its lead and had a goal wiped off the scoreboard at the end of the first half as officials ruled the shot was after the horn.
“I just think we were off our focus,” Scott Craig, West Islip’s head coach, said of his team’s first half play. “But they refocused in the second half, embraced each other and played like a team."
While West Islip’s sloppiness and lack of ball movement limited their opportunities in the first half, the Lions came out of the locker room for the second half a much different team and clearly were much more focused.
Early in the third, Tom Moore and Jon Reese netted back-to-back goals to tie the game at four, which shifted momentum back to West Islip. The two tallies would start the Lions on a run of nine consecutive goals, while the defense and goaltending of Jack Kelly held Syosset scoreless in the second half.
“We were a lot more relaxed in the second half,” said Kelly. “During the first half we were not sliding and not communicating. But we stepped it up.”
On offense the Lions ball movement was much sharper in the second half, which gave their dynamic attack duo Tom Moore and Brendan Smith opportunities. Moore had five goals and Smith had three goals and an assist.1 2 3 4 F West Islip 1 1 4 5 11 Syosset 1 3 0 0 4