The finish line was in sight, but Brandon Stiles admitted his tank was empty.
“I was really gassed at the end,” the Eastport-South Manor senior midfielder said. “But I told myself, ‘I’ve got to do this for my boys.’ ”
So Stiles stayed on the field for a crucial late possession, occupying a defender and allowing Dylan McClintock to take a feed from Justin Weick and score the clinching goal with 1:41 left as ESM outlasted East Islip, 7-5, Wednesday night to win the school’s first boys lacrosse championship in the Suffolk Class B final at Stony Brook.
“Dylan is one of our fastest players so I just watched him score,” Stiles said with a laugh. “After that goal, I knew we had it.”
What the Sharks had was a huge bite of school history. “It feels so good,” said Stiles, who scored three goals, including two in the first-half to help ESM take a 5-3 lead into the break. “We had some chances to score more goals in the first half, but we missed a lot of shots. We talked about having longer possessions to help out our defense. They had an amazing game and they inspired us.”
Weick contributed three assists for ESM (14-4). James Philbin had two goals and an assist and John Sidorski had a goal and two assists for the Redmen, who finished 15-3 and were gunning for their first county title.
“Those two [Philbin and Sidorski] are special players, but our guys responded defensively,” Sharks coach Kevin Huff said. “It wasn’t our best job offensively, but we did enough to win.”
One of the key offensive contributions came from Huff’s nephew, sophomore Ryan Huff, a defensive midfielder who broke a tie at 5 in the fourth quarter with a transition goal, on a feed from James Sherwood. “He’s doing great things,” Kevin Huff said. “He wants to be an offensive midfielder so bad, but we needed to make him a long-stick and he’s embraced the position.”
The younger Huff’s goal was just part of the reason Uncle Kevin was pretty emotional after the game. “I’m quick to tear up and I’m tearing up right now,” he said. “It’s very special.”
Huff said he tried not to dwell on the history-in-the-making aspect of this playoff run. “I’m pretty superstitious,” he said. “But they knew what was going on.”
Eastport-South Manor will face Garden City at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Stony Brook for the Long Island Class B title. Shark Week continues.