Spring rivals, summer teammates, friends for all seasons.
Mac O'Keefe is a high-scoring junior attack for Syosset, the 2015 Class A Nassau and Long Island champion. Ryan Tierney is a high-scoring junior attack/midfielder for Massapequa, the 2014 Class A Nassau and Long Island champ. There is nothing friendly about the high-stakes games between the Braves and Chiefs.
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But the summer lacrosse circuit creates friendships that transcend high school sports, and that is the case with O'Keefe and Tierney, who have played on the same summer teams since third grade. "In the regular season, we just play the game on the field and we don't get mad no matter who wins," said Tierney, the son of Hofstra coach Seth Tierney, one of numerous coaches and a couple of hundred fans who watched Friday night's annual Long Island Lacrosse Showcase at Farmingdale State. "After the game, we're still friends."
O'Keefe scored four goals, all in the decisive third quarter, and Tierney scored a goal with four assists as Nassau defeated Suffolk, 13-9, in the Rising Senior game, the first of the annual triple header.
O'Keefe scored three straight goals, two on feeds from Tierney, during a 7-0 third-quarter blitz that erased Suffolk's 5-4 halftime lead, which featured two goals by Connetquot's Matt Oehl.
O'Keefe scored one goal that caromed in off a defender as he was trying to hit a wide-open Tierney on a back-door cut. He took a pinpoint pass from his pal to finish for a 9-5 lead with 5:48 left in the third. Those two plays occurred right in front of where Seth Tierney was sitting. His son will join him at Hofstra so the coach was beaming. O'Keefe will play at Penn State.
"I know Ryan from summer ball and we definitely work well together," O'Keefe said. "It's always great to play with him."
Tierney broke down the defense on numerous occasions with his dodges, leaving O'Keefe to operate in front, often without stiff defense, a trademark of all-star games at all levels. "If I saw no one was in the crease, I'd take advantage," O'Keefe said. "I was able to get my hands free in close."
Syosset's Alex Giovinco outdueled Smithtown West's Danny Varello - two of Long Island's best returnees at the X next season -- on faceoffs in the third quarter, creating extra possessions and a territorial advantage for Nassau. "Our rally started with Alex at faceoffs. Then Ryan broke through the double-teams and we got rolling," Nassau coach Steve Tripp of Glen Cove said. "We got a lot of possessions and we held onto the ball in the third quarter. We spoke before the game about sharing the ball and working together. We had guys who did that."
Including a couple of kids who've been summer teammates for years.
RISING JUNIORS: Suffolk 14, Nassau 12.
Jimmy Caddigan of Smithtown West fed Luke Eschbach to tie it at 11 early in the fourth quarter, then scored the next two goals the give Suffolk the cushion it needed. Caddigan scored three goals. Sean Lulley of Half Hollow Hills East, Chris Gray of Shoreham-Wading River and Garrett Moya of Huntington scored two goals each for Suffolk. Sam Brown of Long Beach and Mike Leake of South Side each had a hat trick for Nassau.
Caddigan worked effectively on attack with Lulley and James Avanzato of Sachem North, who scored Suffolk's final goal. "We sat out the third quarter and saw some things we thought would work. They played the same man-to-man defense and coach called some good plays. We didn't want to lose to Nassau because they swept us in the LIC," Caddigan said of the Long Island titles won this year by Syosset (A), Manhasset (B) and Cold Spring Harbor (C).
RISING SOPHOMORES: Suffolk 9, Nassau 9.
The game was declared a tie after one four-minute overtime. Jake Wandel of Rocky Point tied it with just over a minute to play. Nassau had taken a 9-8 lead on a goal by Tyler Wuchte of Garden City with four minutes left.