A scary scene temporarily interrupted what had been a celebration of Long Island’s passion for lacrosse and its affection for Duke Sunday at Bethpage High School.
With 44.4 seconds remaining in the first half of the Duke-Boston University Battle of Bethpage, BU’s Mike Laviano, a sophomore attack from Upper Brookville who played at St. Anthony’s, lay unconscious on the turf after a hard, high hit in front of the Duke goal.
A crowd estimated at nearly 5,000 stood in silence as medical personnel called for a stretcher and ambulance. Laviano regained consciousness as he was being strapped onto the stretcher and moved his legs, prompting an ovation that was repeated moments later when the ambulance pulled away. Laviano was taken to Nassau County Medical Center.
Howie Vogts Field seemed to exhale with relief when an announcement during the fourth quarter of Duke’s 18-8 victory revealed that Laviano was OK.
“We just got word from the hospital that Mike is doing well,” Bethpage superintendent of schools Terry Clark told the crowd, drawing cheers. “He will undergo a CAT scan.”
Terriers coach Ryan Polley confirmed that Laviano was out of danger. A school spokesman said that he is being held overnight for observation.
“I think he’s going to be fine,” Polley said. “It was just a hard play. It wasn’t dirty. [Though it did draw a three-minute, non-releasable penalty.] It was a pass to the crease and he was trying to make sure Mike didn’t score. Just got him in the wrong spot, a little bit under the chin and knocked Mike out. But then he was moving and tried to get back up. For precautionary reasons, we put him in the ambulance.”
The NCAA Tournament-bound Blue Devils (12-4) dominated the non-league regular-season finale, especially in the first half when they outshot BU 29-12 and outscored the Terriers 12-4. Junior attack Justin Guterding, a former All-Long Island player at Garden City, had three goals and four assists. Former Ward Melville star Jack Bruckner of Belle Terre added a goal and an assist. Bruckner and Guterding are among the nation’s goal leaders with 44 apiece.
“I think we got to run a lot and it clearly showed in transition that we were moving fast,” said Guterding, who enjoyed the home-away-from-home atmosphere. “It was awesome. I love playing on Long Island. I’ve got like 50 people here, extended family and friends. It’s great to be back. We saw a lot of blue. I guess Long Island loves Duke.”