Justin Coppola is about as good as it gets in the faceoff circle.
The Garden City senior dominated there, winning 13 of 16 faceoffs to set the offense in motion and send the host Trojans on to a 12-5 non-league win over Shoreham-Wading River on Thursday.
“It all starts with him, and he did a great job,” coach Steve Finnell said. “He really sets up the offense. And I thought our wings, Colin Hart and Danny Boccafola, did a super-duper job out there.”
Shoreham-Wading River (9-1) saw its nine-game winning streak end. Garden City improved to 10-0 with a stout defense and an offense that played an unselfish style with fantastic ball movement.
“They had the first two faceoffs and I made an adjustment,” Coppola said. “I had cleaner exits after the first two, and that made all the difference. It’s important to mix power and balance without losing technique.”
Will Puccio benefited from the play of Coppola and the team play of James Basile, Ford Carney and Jack Muldoon. Puccio scored four goals.
“We’ve all played together since the seventh grade,” Puccio said. “They draw the guys to them away from the net and that leaves me wide open. The guys get me the ball inside and I finish the play. They do all the dirty work.”
Puccio was quick to spread the credit. And that’s what makes this Garden City team so special.
Basile had two goals and two assists. He was in the thick of all the scoring as Garden City went on a 10-0 run from the middle of the first quarter to the middle of the fourth for an 11-2 lead.
“He’s the quarterback of the offense,” Finnell said. “He’s the guy that scored three goals in the state title game, including the game-winner in our 7-6 win over Victor. He’s another one of our big-time players without the big-time ego.”
Shoreham-Wading River didn’t yield double-digit goals through its first nine games, but it hadn’t seen an offense quite like the one Garden City uses. The Trojans blitzed the Wildcats in the second and third quarters and turned the game into a blowout.
Shoreham took a 2-1 lead when Tyler Schwarz converted a pass from Gavin Gregorek, his second assist of the game, with 7:38 left in the first quarter. From that point, Shoreham was held scoreless for a span of 39:13. Eric Mueller, who had 11 saves, denied the Wildcats over and over before exiting with an 11-2 lead and 5:25 left in the game.
“We were in lockdown on the defensive end,” Puccio said. “Eric [Mueller] is just a brick wall. He’s the best goalkeeper on Long Island.”