It was late in the second quarter last night when timekeeper Joe Cuozzo, who retired after this season at Mount Sinai as the nation's all-time winningest high school boys lacrosse coach, enthusiastically yelled in the press box at Stony Brook's LaValle Stadium, "This is a heavyweight slugfest!"
West Islip, the nation's No. 1-ranked team, delivered the knockout punch with a dazzling display of speed, passing and shooting, scoring four goals in less than four minutes early in the third quarter and rolling to an impressive 16-9 victory over No. 2 Ward Melville in the Suffolk Class A championship game before a spirited crowd of more than 4,000 spectators equally divided between the two lacrosse-mad communities.
It's the sixth straight time West Islip (18-1) has beaten Ward Melville (16-3) in the county final and the school's seventh straight title overall. The Lions, riding an 18-game winning streak after a season-opening loss, will face Farmingdale in the Long Island Class A championship game at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Hofstra.
Nick Galasso led the way with four goals and four assists, giving him a county-leading 114 points, with 56 goals. His last goal was a one-handed tally made while diving in front of the crease after a dodge.
Mike Sagl scored four goals, Andrew Hodgson had three goals and two assists - all during a 5-0 third quarter - and Drew Federico had a first-half hat trick.
There was some question beforehand about whether the Patriots would try to run with WI. Those questions were answered in the first minute when WM scored two goals in seven seconds after faceoff wins to grab a 2-0 lead. Kevin McElhone scored the first and assisted on the next one by John Edmonds.
That set the tone for a crowd-pleasing, up-and-down-the-field first half that ended with West Islip clinging to an 8-7 lead. But that fast pace eventually played into the Lions' favor in the second half.