At times, it must seem like Smithtown West is playing a private game of keep-away lacrosse. Win the faceoff, score a goal, rinse and repeat.
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“It’s hard for opponents when you score, win the faceoff and they don’t get to touch the ball,” Smithtown West faceoff specialist Danny Varello said after Saturday’s 12-6 Suffolk I victory over visiting Sachem East that mostly was played in a rinsing rain.
Not a refreshing one, however for the Flaming Arrows. Varello won six of the game’s first seven faceoffs and 12 of 16 overall, giving the Bulls (3-0) those early possessions they needed to establish a tone.
“The only way our team gets going in the first quarter is if I win the faceoffs,” said Varello, who will take his special skill to Syracuse next year.
Of course, the offense must do its part after Varello wins the draws, and that’s precisely what Smithtown West did, despite the slippery, soaking conditions. Its first attack unit of senior Dan Caroussos, junior Jimmy Caddigan and sophomore Kyle Zawadzki clicked early and often.
Caroussos scored unassisted in the first minute and fed Zawadzki open at the top of the slot for another goal in the second minute. Zawadzki scored on an overhand blast after pass from Caddigan two minutes later and Caddigan circled from behind the cage to finish with an unassisted goal with 3:59 left in the first.
The Bulls led 5-2 after one and 9-4 at the half. The rain relented a bit in the second half, but Smithtown West had already shifted into cruise control by then. Goals by Caddigan, Caroussos and Brandon Meir provided a 12-4 lead before Sachem East (1-2) scored twice in the final 3:34.
“Danny sets the momentum early by winning faceoffs and puts the ball in the attack’s hands,” Smithtown West coach Bob Moltisanti Jr. said. “We were hoping to take advantage of some one-on-one matchups. We wanted to attack and test their goalie down low.”
Sachem East goalie Mike Bollinger is one of the best in Suffolk, and made 12 saves yesterday, but he was unable to withstand the deluge of shots and possessions the Bulls conjured up thanks to Varello and Company.
“All three of us our friends and we have great chemistry,” Caroussos said of the Bulls’ top line. “We’re definitely not as deep a team as last year, but when we win the faceoffs, that gets us going. Danny does his job by getting us the ball and we’ve got to do our job by scoring.”