Down two goals with less than four minutes remaining in regulation it appeared that Smithtown West would get some revenge against West Islip and tighten its grip on the number one ranking in League I.
The Lions had other ideas.
Three straight goals, two late in the fourth quarter and the game winner by Jon Reese in overtime, gave West Islip an improbable 7-6 win.
“I told the team from the get go that this was going to be a street fight for 48 minutes,” said Scott Craig, West Islip’s head coach. “We told them they were going to get knocked down and punched in the face, but that they better get off the deck and keep swinging.”
A rematch of the 2011 Class A Championship Game won by West Islip 12-11 in overtime, Thursday’s game at Smithtown West High School was a nip-and-tuck affair with the teams exchanging only a handful of goals through the first three quarters.
With the score tied at 4 at the start of the fourth quarter Smithtown West appeared to take control of the game on goals by Ryan Keenan and Christian Zawadski to lead 6-4. But the Lions had some fight remaining and Ryan Wieczorek gave his team life when he skipped a low shot past Bulls’ netminder Ryan Adler to cut the lead to 6-5 with 3:10 remaining in regulation.
Late in the fourth Smithtown West had possession and appeared as if it would run out the clock. However, a pressing West Islip defense forced a turnover with 46 seconds remaining. Following a timeout, junior midfielder Nick Aponte wedged his way through four defenders and his shot deflected off of Adler to tie the game at 6 with 4.6 seconds remaining.
“I was going to the ground and the shot hit off (Adler’s) shorts, which slowed it down but it trickled in,” Aponte said.
In overtime, Reese would defeat Smithtown West’s faceoff specialist Craig Madarasz, who was again dominant at the faceoff X, to give the Lions what would turn out to be the team’s only possession of the extra session.
“What (Reese) did was stood up and played defense,” Craig said of the faceoff win to start overtime. “Aponte then had the great ground ball.”
With West Islip showing patience on offense, Tom Moore would find an open Reese who fired the game winner passed Adler 1:40 into overtime.
“This was a character game more than anything,” Craig said of his team’s win. “Maybe we are or we aren’t the most talented team in the county, but we will fight you tooth and nail.”
Added Aponte, “We’re not leaving and we’re not going anywhere. They are a great team, but we want to be in the conversation too.”
Following its victory Thursday, it’s a good bet that many in the lacrosse world are talking about West Islip.1 2 3 4 OT F West Islip 1 2 1 2 1 7 Smithtown West 2 1 1 2 0 6