Riley Hill helps West Islip move within one win of state title, perfect season
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CORTLAND, N.Y. - Wait for it or go for it?
That, essentially, was the question the scenario posed to Riley Hill. With West Islip up a goal and a little less than two minutes left, should the senior run more time off the clock or try to score an insurance goal?
"Coach [Joe Nicolosi] told us during the timeout to shoot only if we're absolutely sure it's going in,'' Hill said, "and my first instinct was to take that shot.''
Suffern goaltender Mikaila Cheeseman left the cage to pressure the ball, but Hill split a double team, juked by Cheeseman on the left wing and scored into an empty net with 1:43 left.
Wait for it? The Lions had waited long enough.
Now West Islip -- a program that won its first Suffolk girls lacrosse title only two weeks ago -- is a victory away from a perfect season after beating Suffern, 9-7, on Friday in a state Class A girls lacrosse semifinal.
"At the start of the year, I knew we would be very successful,'' senior Lindsay Darrell said. "I didn't know we'd be undefeated at this point, but it just felt like our year."
With a loaded roster and an ideal complement of senior leaders and emerging stars, it truly was the Lions' time to go for it.
Hill, Darrell, Emily Piciullo and Vanessa Costantino each scored twice for West Islip (21-0), which will face West Genesee in the final at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. West Genesee beat Pittsford, 10-9, in quadruple overtime, so fatigue could be a factor.
"It's unreal for this to be happening and we're still taking it in,'' Piciullo said. "But we know we have to finish this off.''
With the score tied at 7-7, the Lions lost the ball, but Darrell intercepted a pass near the 30, rolled around the 8-meter arc and found Hill, who fired a bullet from seven yards out to put West Islip ahead 8-7 with 9:15 left.
Shannon McFadden made six saves, two on point-blank shots in the last five minutes, to hold the lead. "These games are so stressful, I feel like I'm gonna have a panic attack,'' she said. "But my teammates are strong for me, so I know I have to come through for them.''
Grace Davidson's goal gave the Lions a 7-5 lead with 15:56 left before Dana Gisonno scored twice in 56 seconds for Suffern (16-4). But West Islip responded emphatically, as it has done all season.
"Everything we've worked for is right in front of us now,'' Nicolosi said, "and we've gotta take it.''
They're going for it.