When Vinny Toronto utilized a quick dodge to shake free from a defender midway through the fourth quarter and prepared to launch his shot, the Rocky Point senior attack heard a distinct voice in his head.
“It was Coach Bowler yelling at me in practice: ‘High to low! High to low!’ ” Toronto said.
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Toronto did just that, coming over the top with his third goal of the game to end a long scoring drought and help the Eagles to a much-needed 9-8 victory over host Eastport- South Manor on Thursday in a Suffolk II boys lacrosse game.
Toronto’s goal gave the Eagles (2-4) an 8-6 lead and some breathing room. They had built a 7-3 lead in the second quarter on flashy goals a minute apart by Toronto and sophomore Pete LaSalla (three goals, one assist), but then did not score for nearly 24 minutes.
“They went to a zone and we didn’t adjust,” Rocky Point coach Mike Bowler said. “And we made the goalie look good by shooting high instead of high to low.”
Meanwhile Eastport-South Manor (4-2) rallied. Brandon Stiles (three goals, one assist) and Justin Weick (two goals, one assist) scored 37 seconds apart to make it 7-5 at the half.
The Sharks’ Zach Clemente (three goals, two assists) had the only goal of the third quarter to trim the Eagles’ lead to 7-6 as both goalies stood tall. Rocky Point’s Nick Lovaglio and ESM’s Jake Zaino each made 13 saves.
“It started getting quiet on the sidelines,” Toronto said.
After Toronto’s goal, Anthony DeVito really raised the noise level among the Eagles by circling to his right and scoring an unassisted goal for a 9-6 lead with 2:51 left. “I just stayed patient and looked for an opening,” DeVito said.
But the Sharks weren’t done biting. Stiles took a feed from Tom DiGiorgio and scored to make it 9-7. Thirty seconds later, Weick made it a one-goal game when he cut to the slot and quick-sticked it past Lovaglio on a slick pass from Stiles with 1:09 left. “The kid made a great cut. That was a pretty goal,” Bowler said.
Rocky Point gained possession on the next faceoff and LaSalla carried behind the net with no intention of shooting. “Just go as hard as I can for as long as I can and run out the clock,” he said.
He eventually was double- teamed but Bowler called a timeout with 23 seconds left. DeVito did the dirty work this time, absorbing a few stick checks but not surrendering the ball until the horn sounded. Rocky Point had its first league victory decided on the field, its only other win coming on a forfeit.
“It’s a new season,” Bowler said.
The Eagles hope it’s noisy the rest of the way.