Matt Liantonio hates being on the bottom of piles. He is clinically claustrophobic and can't handle tight places. How about top of the heap?
Liantonio, a senior goalie, was part of a historic celebration Wednesday night as Miller Place, in just its fourth year as a varsity lacrosse program, defeated Huntington, 5-4, to win the Suffolk Class B championship at Stony Brook's LaValle Stadium.
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"I was kicking and screaming at the bottom, trying to get out," Liantonio said. "I'm 100 percent claustrophobic."
Liantonio was spectacular in the cage with 14 saves, including four in the last two minutes. His counterpart, Tyler Greenhill, was nearly as good, with 12 saves.
However, the Panthers (14-5) had too many Liantonio brothers. Matt's fraternal twin, senior middie Steven, had a goal and assist and sophomore Thomas scored two goals. Miller Place faces Garden City on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Hofstra for the Long Island Championship.
Steven Liantonio's goal off a feed from Ryan Callahan with 10:29 left in the second quarter broke a tie at 2. Thomas Liantonio scored unassisted for a 4-3 Miller Place advantage at the half.
James Nielsen made a nice move from behind the cage to score with 1:26 left in the third for a 5-3 lead that held up. Matt Liantonio and the defense kept Huntington (15-4) off the scoreboard until Ben Kocis' third goal with three seconds left.
"A lot of guys have played together since the second grade and the transformation of this team into a champion has been amazing," Steven Liantonio said.
Matt Liantonio said he "100 percent believed" the team could win a title. "Words can't describe how I feel," he said.