Attention to detail turned potential disaster to prosperity.
With clumps of mud in his cleats, his helmet soaked and his team on the ropes, Mike Ainbinder paid attention to the details of his final shot -- and emerged a hero.
The Baldwin attack ripped a low shot from the restraining line that slipped through the Hicksville goalie's legs with 13 seconds left in the fourth quarter. It stood as the winner in host Baldwin's 5-4 win over Hicksville in a Nassau Conference I boys lacrosse opener Friday.
"One of the things [coach Rich Garguilo] preaches is details, including shooting it in the right spot," Ainbinder said. "We all have to be on the same page 24/7."
Ainbinder (three goals) and Tyler Harper were on the same page in the final minute.
Harper assisted on Ainbinder's winner and also scored the tying goal with 56 seconds left as he took a pass from goalie Brett Dadiego (16 saves) near midfield and raced nearly 25 yards downfield before shooting.
Baldwin (2-2, 1-0) led 3-0 before Nick Woessner finally got Hicksville on the board with 8:29 left in the game. The Comets (3-1, 0-1), stifled most of the game by Bruins defenders Mack Ogrodnick and Bryan Crespo, then went on a four-goal run in 6:20 to go up 4-3.
Said Harper: "We had to slow it down and get back to our game."
Baldwin was certainly methodical on the torn-up middle school field (the high school field's drainage problems caused a venue switch).
Ainbinder (2:41) and Tyler Warner (:02) each scored first-quarter goals. Ainbinder scored the only goal of the second on a one-timer off a fast break featuring five quick passes.
"It was a boring game, then a fun game, then a boring game and finally a fun game," Garguilo said of the rematch of the 2009 county final, which Hicksville won by a goal in the waning moments. "Our guys were thinking 'let's just hang on' instead of trying to score."
Not Ainbinder. Because the field had no scoreboard, Ainbinder had no idea how much time was left. He didn't leave anything to chance.
"I knew it was close [to the end], but there was only about 10 seconds and I thought there was like 30 or 40," he said. "It was either end it now or go into overtime. I didn't want to go into overtime."
A matter of seconds. Just another detail to pay attention to.