Syosset always brings a full box of well-used tools to utilize on offense, but when the Braves fell behind by four goals in the second quarter against Smithtown East Saturday, they had to reach down for a couple of implements that may have been gathering dust.
Faceoff artist Alex Giovinco won several key draws from one of Long Island's best.
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Defensemen E.J. Aronson and Dave Reiter and goalie Jonathan Klobus were part of a unit that shut down the high-powered Bulls' offense in the second half.
And, of course, Alex Concannon, Mac O'Keefe and Lucas Cotler led the offensive surge as Syosset defeated Smithtown East, 14-8, to win the Long Island Class A boys lacrosse championship at Stony Brook University's LaValle Stadium before a crowd of more than 2,500.
"We call E.J. the hammer and David is the shield who is the leader of our defense," Syosset coach John Calabria said after his team won its first Long Island title since 2008. The Braves (18-1) will face Niskayuna in one state Class A semifinal on Wed- nesday at 5:30 p.m. at Middletown High School. Smithtown East, which received three goals from John Daniggelis and two each from Connor Desimone and Brian Willetts, finished 18-2. "Our defense has systematically gotten better and better," Calabria added.
So has Giovinco, who started slowly against the usually dominant Gerard Arceri, as the Bulls built a 7-3 lead with 7:23 left in the second quarter. That's when Giovinco pulled out his own tool -- a clamp among other tricks -- to beat Arceri several times during a rally that brought the Braves to within 8-7 at halftime. "When we were losing, Alex got us back. He did a phenomenal job," Calabria said.
"Gerard is really good but I just tried to outwork him and figure him out," said Giovinco, who won only 11 of 26 draws, but got the big ones during Syosset's rally which culminated with a remarkable 7-0 second-half run.
While Giovinco limited Smithtown East's possessions, Aronson and Reiter limited the Bulls' shot opportunities. "The offense got us back in the game. It's incredible," Reiter said. "We play against them every day in practice. We get better playing against them and I think they get better playing against us."
It sure looked that way in the second half. O'Keefe tied it at 8 in the second minute of the third quarter and Concannon took a pass from O'Keefe and scored in tight to put the Braves on top for good at 9-8 with 3:22 left in the third. Nick Hatzipetrakos scored unassisted with 14 seconds left in the third and the best was yet to come from an offense that was like a nail gun against a sheet of plywood.
O'Keefe from Giovinco after a faceoff win. Thud! Cotler from outside. Thud! Cotler again from Concannon behind the cage. Thud! J.P. Lannig from Concannon. Thud! The victory was nailed down at 14-8 with 6:53 left. "We have six guys who know how to play offense and have great chemistry," Concannon said. "But our defense was a brick wall. It was amazing to watch them."Calabria said he told the team before their 17-8 county championship victory over previously undefeated Massapequa on Tuesday, "Our offense will win a lot of game, but defense will win us championships. So far, they've won us these two."
And given Calabria more tools to take upstate and chase one more championship.