Elmont's Qusarn Caldwell, who scored a goal, controls ball. (March...

Elmont's Qusarn Caldwell, who scored a goal, controls ball. (March 26, 2011) Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

The battle of the breakfast sandwich was a defensive scramble of sorts, but in the end, it was Peter Penalvert's steely play in the cage and a trio of Elmont scorers to crack Sewanhaka's shell.

"I made a bet with him, with No. 7," Elmont midfielder Qusarn Caldwell said gleefully of Sewanhaka's Messiah Morrison after the Spartans defeated their district rivals, 3-2, Saturday in the boys non-league lacrosse opener. "If we won, I got a sandwich . . . bacon, egg and cheese."

That's the way it goes with Sewanhaka and Elmont -- two closely knit communities where the kids on the other end of the field represent both chum and challenger. And yes, sometimes, thanks to specialized programs, they're even classmates. Caldwell and Morrison share a construction class.

"They're our friends," Penalvert said. "But we have to keep it off the field."

Saturday demonstrated how equally matched they are, though Elmont had the slight but decided edge. The Spartans controlled possession for the vast majority of the first half and led 3-1 until Michael Fileti's goal with three seconds left.

"I can't even remember the last time we beat them," said coach James Carretta (Penalvert said that it was likely about four years ago). "Their goalie was spectacular. You had to find your spots."

Both Indians goalie Will Pokorny (12 saves) and Penalvert (six) had exemplary days, with Pokorny stringing together a dazzling three-save, 30-second stretch in the second quarter -- one at point-blank range.

Neither team scored until Caldwell's unassisted strike in front of the cage with 2:13 left in the first quarter. Elmont went up 2-0 on Kevin Johnson's goal in the third.

Sewanhaka didn't score until Fileti's man-up goal off a behind-the-cage feed from Michael Koc with 10:58 to play, but Ben Odugbesan's goal with 5:40 left provided the two-goal cushion.

"We're a little rusty," Carretta said. "It's a new start and it's a different bunch of guys."

Despite coming out flat-footed in the opening minutes, Carretta said he was encouraged by a few players: Caldwell, Penalvert and omnipresent midfielder Eustace Camal.

"We were all over ground balls and we maintained possession well," Carretta said. "We had some trouble finishing."

Penalvert, too, believed Elmont has something good cooking. "We have good shooters, we can keep possession, we can run, they're athletic guys," he said. "As long as we mesh, we should be strong."

Having him in the cage doesn't hurt, either. One save came off Koc's shot on the fly with 10:58 to play. Astute as ever, Penalvert extended his arm and swatted away the possible equalizer -- saving Elmont's (and Caldwell's) bacon.

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