For the seniors, it was a just reward. For the rest of the boys lacrosse team, reaching the Long Island Class A title game was a building block – motivation for next year.
That's because Suffolk power , the No. 10 team in the ESPN Rise national rankings, shook off a poor first half and ran away with the Long Island title, 11-4, Saturday afternoon before a crowd of 3,000 at Hofstra.
Syosset (14-5), back in the title game for the first time since it beat West Islip in 2008, actually led the rematch, 4-2, at the half. Senior attack Taylor Kalbacher scooped up a loose ball in front of the West Islip net and fired point blank with 15.4 seconds left in the second quarter.
"We felt good, but we knew a team like that is not going away easy," Syosset junior said.
Syosset got two first-half goals from junior midfield Alex Hatzopoulos.
"All playoffs we've been feeling that energy in the first half," said Syosset's Ryan Hunter, a senior attack headed to Ohio State.
It could have been a three-goal edge but Frankie Buffalino’s shot found the back of the net a split second after the final horn blew to end the half.
That missed opportunity marked the beginning of the end for the Braves.
"To me that's neither here nor there," Syosset Coach John Calabria said. "They completely outplayed us in the second half. Our offense never got rolling. But I gotta tell you, I was proud of our kids the way they stood up to those guys."
The Lions (19-1), nine-time Suffolk champions, exploded for nine unanswered goals to turn a tight game into a rout.
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Feit, a Johns Hopkins recruit, stopped 12 shots, including one incredible play after another in the first half. But once West Islip senior attack Tom Moore got going he was close to unstoppable. Moore finished with five goals – all after intermission.
"He found his groove," Calabria said of Moore. "Everybody gets tired, but he didn't seem to. He stepped up and played well."
West Islip faces Section II champ Niskayuna in the state semifinal June 6 at 5:30 p.m. at Hofstra. The Lions are lacrosse royalty and have won four state titles since 2006.
The Braves will have to wait til next year. Fifteen seniors graduate. For them, this was the culmination of a four-year journey. But a strong core remains and Feit for one was already looking to 2013.
"We have the ability to get back here next year and get a little revenge on these guys," Feit said. "We know the feeling, what it feels like to lose [in this game]. We'll use that as motivation to get back here next year."
Long Island Class A Championship
Teams...................1.....2.....3.....4 – F
West Islip..............1.....1.....4.....5 – 11
Syosset.................1.....3.....0.....0 – 4
Goals – WI: Moore 5, Smith 3, DeLuca, Reese, Aponte; S: Hatzopoulos 2, Keith, Kalbacher. Saves – WI: Kelly 7; S: Feit 12.