Smithtown West's leading scorer Ryan Keenan stood near midfield in his attack position, uncharacteristically and just for a moment, with his head facing down and his hands on his knees.
At the time -- a few minutes into the third quarter of a Suffolk Class A boys lacrosse semifinal with the score tied -- Northport was threatening and had the ball in Smithtown West territory. Keenan was using a second to gather himself after taking a gruesome hit to his back while attempting a shot that put him on the ground just a few plays before.
But when Smithtown West forced a turnover, Keenan's head popped up and seconds later, after receiving a pass, he fed teammate Brian Masi, who scored the go-ahead goal.
Keenan, who had a game-high seven points, added a goal of his own five minutes later and second-seeded Smithtown West held visiting No. 3 Northport scoreless after that for a 12-6 win Friday.
"My back was hurting a little bit, but you have to play through that," Keenan said. "It's the county semifinal game and you can't hold back."
At first, it didn't appear as if Smithtown West would advance. Northport, led by Sean Gilroy's two goals, was up 5-2 after the first quarter. Yet the Bulls responded with three goals and shut down Northport's offense in the second period to tie the score at halftime.
Christian Zawadzki, whose goal tied the score before the half, scored unassisted to give Smithtown West its first lead one minute into the third period. Like a driver weaving through traffic in a storm without windshield wipers, Zawadzki sliced through defenders and then connected on an overhand shot right in front of the goal as the rain continued to come down unmercifully, blurring his vision.
"The sticks were slippery and it was very hard to see," said Zawadzki, who had four goals. "But my goals were from close range so I just had to move my feet a bit."
Northport's John Glancy tied the score at 6 with 9:20 left in the third, but Smithtown West scored half a dozen unanswered goals to end the game.
"Joey Varello at faceoffs did a nice job and our defense settled down and played great team defense," Smithtown West coach Bob Moltisanti, Jr. said. "Then we became efficient on offense."
Smithtown West avenged a 16-6 loss to Northport earlier this season and hopes to do the same against undefeated Ward Melville, which handed the team its only other loss.
"The [Northport] loss was in our heads the whole year," Keenan said. "We didn't want to say it, but this entire week we knew what we had to do and we got it done today."
Ward Melville 14, Smithtown East 6: Christian Mazzone had four goals and two assists, Danny Bucaro had four goals and Brendan Hegarty chipped in three goals for No. 1 Ward Melville (18-0) in the other Class A semifinal.