Brett Osman, Jake Buonaiuto lead Miller Place
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The truth is, Brett Osman misses the days when he was Miller Place's leading scorer, when he was a running back and when he frequented end zones.
There's one thing Osman, now a shutdown defender on the lacrosse field, likes a lot more, though, which helps him get over it rather quickly.
"I do miss that. I do miss that a lot," Osman said with a laugh. "But if someone else is doing it and if we're winning games, I don't mind that much."
It was Jake Buonaiuto who supplied the scoring Thursday as Osman, a senior headed to Marist for lacrosse, led a stingy defensive effort as host Miller Place topped Comsewogue, 12-7, in Suffolk Division II.
Buonaiuto scored three goals in the first quarter as the Panthers pounced to a 5-0 lead. He finished with four goals and three assists.
"I got to give it to our defense because they hold it down and give me a lot more confidence with the ball," Buonaiuto said. "Comsewogue is a big crosstown rival so we always get up to play them."
That was even truer because it was the teams' first meeting since Miller Place (5-1) upset the Warriors last season in a playoff game and eventually became county champions in Class B.
"We have respect for everyone, but we were very confident coming into this game," said long-stick midfielder Austin Yezarski, who had four ground balls.
Miller Place's defense, led by Osman (five ground balls), Yezarski, Cole Walter and Jacob Bloom, held Comsewogue (2-3) scoreless for the first 18 minutes. Thomas Liantonio put the Panthers ahead 8-2 two minutes into the third quarter with a spectacular no-look, behind-the-back goal right on the crease off an assist from Joe Santoro.
The lead would've been larger early if not for the play of Comsewogue goalie Jake MacGregor, who had 19 saves.
Will Snelders had three goals for Comsewogue and Greg Pedone added two. The Warriors cut the deficit to 9-5, but Liam Walsh, who had three goals and one assist, scored twice to seal it.
These days, much like how he did Thursday, Osman takes great solace in shutting down the opposition's best scorer. The number he strives for now is zero, as in no points for the individual he guards.
"When you stop someone on a three-minute possession and a teammate comes down and puts one in the back of the net," Osman said, "there's no better feeling."
That's from someone who knows both sides of it.