Emotional speech helps West Islip overcome deficit, win Class A LIC
Admittedly, West Islip was half bad. "We got shocked. We were like, 'What happened?' " Lions senior midfielder Nick Aponte said of his team's 4-2 halftime deficit against Syosset.
"We didn't play with a lot of energy," coach Scott Craig said.
The shock treatment came in the form of a fiery halftime speech by student-coach Dylan Ilario.
"What he said gave me the chills," Aponte said.
West Islip responded by scoring nine unanswered goals in the second half Saturday at Hofstra's Shuart Stadium, five by Tom Moore, in an 11-4 victory over Syosset to win its seventh boys lacrosse Class A Long Island Championship. The Lions (19-1) will face Niskayuna in a state semifinal Wednesday at Hofstra. The Braves finished 14-5.
"No big adjustments. It was more mental than physical," Craig said. "We started moving our feet."
Moore, a senior attack, scored off a feed from Aponte on the first possession of the second half and two minutes later, Jon Reese scored after a split dodge to tie it. Senior attack Brendan Smith scored from an angle off a feed from Anthony DeLuca for a 5-4 lead and Moore completed a game-turning third quarter with an extra-man goal off a feed from Smith. That shocking first half was a thing of the past.
"Once we got that first goal, I thought we'd get rolling," said Smith, who had three goals and an assist. He has 52 goals this season. "We had the momentum and it was a good feeling."
Moore made sure those good vibes continued. He made it a natural hat trick when he scored twice early in the fourth quarter, one unassisted and one on a sharp cross-crease pass from Aponte. "We did everything the right way in the second half," said Moore, who leads the Lions with 55 goals. "A lot of backdoor cuts. Our defense shut them down. [Goalie Jack] Kelly [nine saves] was great."
Moore, who added a final unassisted tally with 3:26 left, said his mentality has always been, "Shoot to get hot, shoot to stay hot." He sizzled along with the rest of the Lions in the second half Saturday.
"He's a big guy and once he gets going, you can't stop him," Aponte said of Moore. "We're a team that always finds something. I think they got a little frustrated when we got it going."
"[Moore] started moving his feet in the second half and getting over the top," Craig said. "He kept moving to the vacated area. It's great that the seniors took charge of what's supposed to be their season."
One of those seniors, Ilario, whose careers in football and lacrosse ended after three torn ACL injuries in his right knee, delivered a message that was powerful and well-received.
"Dylan got us going," Moore said. "He told us that he wanted to be out there and since he couldn't be, we needed to go out there and take care of business."
At West Islip, that's the business of winning championships -- nine county titles, seven LICs, four states . . . and counting.