It seemed as if Kevin O’Keefe had done enough to insure an Oceanside victory. The 6-3 Hofstra-bound midfielder had scored five first-half goals, added a third-quarter assist and helped the Sailors build what appeared to be a safe six-goal lead entering the fourth quarter.
Then the waters got turbulent and Port Washington came storming back. When the margin was reduced to two goals, O’Keefe, a senior, dusted off some old sophomore and junior faceoff skills and won two key draws to help host Oceanside outlast Port Washington, 13-12, Friday night in a Nassau I boys lacrosse game.
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“Derek got a little tired from taking faceoffs the whole game,” O’Keefe said of Derek Cruz. “They got it down to 13-11 and I thought we needed something big. I used to take faceoffs and I was confident. It was time to get back to work.”
There was more work to do, however. The Vikings capped a five-goal, fourth-quarter rally when John Athanasian scored on a feed from his brother Christian to get within 13-12 with 1:23 remaining. Port Washington nearly tied it in the final minute but goalie Drew McDougal’s 14th save was his biggest, as he stopped Brian Crawley in front to preserve the victory. Oceanside improved to 1-1 while Port Washington dropped to 0-2.
“He didn’t throw any fakes and I was able to see it,” said McDougal, who was particularly sharp in the second quarter, making eight saves. “Once you get going, you’re in a zone and you don’t talk to anyone on the sidelines or in the timeouts.”
He didn’t have to do much talking as the Sailors built their big lead. O’Keefe scored three straight goals spanning the first and second quarters and added two unassisted tallies before halftime helping Oceanside to a 9-4 edge at the break.
Freshman Luke Hickam scored three of his four goals, consecutively, in the second and third quarters, then goals by Jack Egan and Joe Kiesche provided a 13-7 advantage entering the final period.
That’s when the Vikings turned up the heat. Hayden Braider and Seth Obadia (four goals apiece) scored early in the fourth quarter to launch Port Washington’s comeback. Crawley scored twice before the Athanasians teamed up to set up the frantic final moments.
Shortly after McDougal’s big save, the Sailors gained possession with 19 seconds left. Following a timeout, O’Keefe carried the ball from deep in his own end nearly to the Port Washington goal, dodging and barreling over defenders like a tight end in the open field. When he finally turned the ball over with two seconds left, the victory was secure.
“Kevin is the heart and soul of our team,” Oceanside coach Jim Gillis said. “He’s been on varsity since he was a freshman and he has become a true leader.”