By: Christine Sampson
West Islip needed just one shot to score the game-winner, and that shot came from its own goalie 56 seconds into sudden-death overtime to give West Islip a 7-6 win over Ward Melville in a showdown between two national lacrosse powers Wednesday night.
Duke-bound senior Kyle Turri got the ball, left his post, sprinted down the center of the field and took the shot that no one on either side is going to forget anytime soon.
"We were passing it back and forth a couple times back there and I knew we were getting close to a 20 count," Turri said. "I just saw an opening, the whole middle of the field was open, and I knew if I had something I had to run all the way."
Ward Melville coach Mike Hoppey said the play was no suprise, but admitted after the game someone "might have made a mistake."
"We put a little different ride in," he said. "Obviously the goalie didn't get picked up until he got too far down the field to do anything about it. We'll correct it."
Ward Melville junior John Edmonds and sophomore Jack Bruckner each scored late in the third to give the Patriots a 6-5 lead, but West Islip's Nick Aponte turned a pass from Drew Federico into a goal that tied the score at 6 with 7:52 left in the game.
After that, a steady defensive stand on both sides – something both teams anticipated even before the first faceoff of the game – kept both teams scoreless and sent the game into overtime.
"We knew we had to play great defense," Turri said. "Ward Melville always has a great defense, they’re like us. We knew it was going to be a low-scoring game and we wouldn’t put away that many goals, so we had to play great defense."
Federico scored twice in the first half for West Islip, which went on a 4-0 run to close out the first half and had a 5-4 lead at halftime. Edmonds, Sean Cleary, Jimmy Coughlan each scored for Ward Melville before James Tucci appeared to add one for West Islip that would have closed the Patriots' lead to 3-2 with five seconds left in the first quarter. Officials initially counted the goal, but Hoppey protested and the goal was waved off when it was decided that Tucci was in the crease.
Ward Melville had won 40 of the last 57 matchups against West Islip, but West Islip has perhaps a few more meaningful wins: the last six county finals.
"It’s a great win at this point in the season," West Islip coach Scott Craig said. "As far as I’m concerned, Suffolk lacrosse is not West Islip-Ward Melville. We’re not saying we’re going to see anyone down the road, we’re gonna finish the task at hand and the regular season before we even worry about the playoffs."
Ward Melville (7-1) entered the game ranked the No. 1 boys' lacrosse team in the nation by LaxPower; West Islip (10-0) was No. 13. But the win shot West Islip to the No. 1 spot by Wednesday night, and Ward Melville fell to No. 2. The victory also extended the Lions' current winning streak to 31 games.
1 2 3 4 OT Final West Islip 1 4 0 1 1 7 Ward Melville 3 1 2 0 0 6