Given how impenetrable the defense by both teams was all afternoon, the last thing Manhasset's Drew Belinsky expected in the waning seconds was a clean shot on goal.
But that's exactly what Belinsky got on a set play following a timeout with 29.5 seconds left. Belinsky cut to the middle of the field off a pick and fired a low shot that hit the back of the net with 10.3 seconds left to give the Indians a thrilling come-from-behind 7-6 lacrosse victory over host Garden City Saturday in the 119th Woodstick Classic.
"I was more open than I thought. I never thought I'd get a clear shot," Belinsky said.
A crowd of about 2,000 witnessed the latest installment of the longest uninterrupted public school rivalry in the United States. "This feels amazing. It's like a playoff game," said senior attack Chris Cook, who scored the tying goal for Manhasset with 1:29 left and added three assists.
It had that kind of feel, with tension hanging in the summerlike air on every possession. "To me, this is like Ohio State-Michigan, USC-UCLA, Florida-Florida State," Manhasset coach Bill Cherry said. "It's two similar communities. The kids know each other. They hang out together. This isn't a bowl game. We're the only ones who get invited to play this game each year. It's special and I love being a part of it."
With its second straight win in the series after the Trojans had won four in a row, Manhasset leads, 66-53.
It took some grit to overcome Garden City's stout defense Saturday. The Trojans had taken a 6-4 lead early in the fourth quarter on unassisted goals 10 seconds apart by Devin Dwyer and Connor Horl, the latter on a solo dash after his own faceoff win with 7:27 remaining.
But Harry Kucharczyk took a crease feed from Cook on a man-up situation with 6:02 left to make it 6-5, and from that moment on, every play took on added significance. Forget that Class B Garden City (7-3) and Class C Manhasset (10-0) are not in the same league. Forget that the game has no postseason significance and that neither team will meet again in what should be strong playoff runs for each. Just remember that it's the Woodstick, with much pomp and circumstance on and off the field, and it has tremendous meaning for both schools.
And considering that 17 of the last 22 Woodstick Classics have been decided by three goals or less, the closeness of this installment was hardly a surprise.
"Two great teams. Two great defenses," Cherry said. "A 7-6 game is a sign of great defense and offense that makes the most of its opportunities. That's my kind of game."
Of Belinsky's winner Cherry said, "It was a play we run when it's a dire situation."
The final seconds of the Woodstick definitely qualifies.