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Can South Side challenge Conference B-I's elite?

South Side High School #9 Dominic Moriarty, right,

South Side High School #9 Dominic Moriarty, right, celebrates with teammates after a goal in the fourth period extended their lead over Carey to 5-3. (April 13, 2011) Photo Credit: James Escher

**UPDATE**: Stephen Tita, who assisted on Kevin Waxon's eventual game-winning goal yesterday, suffered a mild concussion on a hit from Peter Nicholls, accordring to coach Steve DiPietro. The blow, which came with 1:05 to go and the game all but settled, was punished with a 3:00 non-releaseable penalty for unnecessary roughness.

Tita laid on the ground for a few moments, but walked off on his own power. He appeared dazed and was taken home by his parents.

Upon being checked out, he was diagnosed with a mild concussion. He had headache symptoms today, but did attend school, accorinding to DiPietro.

He will miss next Thursday's game against Baldwin, but may be able to return on April 27 against Plainview JFK.

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As I watched South Side rally from a three-goal deficit with six goals in a 10:39 stretch for a 6-3 win at Carey yesterday, that's the question I kept asking myself.

Can South Side challenge in Conference B-I?

South Side had no problem winning in Conference B-II -- that's part of the reason why they've won 29 straight regular-season conference games, dating back to 2007. It's a streak the Cyclones are quite proud of.

Coach Steve DiPietro reiterated its importance before yesterday's game, and goalie Dominic Moriarty (pictured above, right) spoke about it afterwards.

"The conference streak is huge," he said, "it sets us up for the playoffs."

But as the smallest school in Conference B-I, can South Side hang with the likes of Garden City and Wantagh? It'll face both teams on consecutive Tuesdays in early May.

There are many pros and cons for the Cyclones. Here are a few of them...

Pro: They're certainly resilient. After losing their first three games, they have won five in a row, two in come-from-behind fashion. During the five-game winning streak, they've outscored their opponents 28-11 in the second half.

Pro: They have an extremely talented goaltender. Carey's shots weren't spectacular in the second half, but, as DiPietro said, "they could have had about six or seven" in the first half before South Side's offense got going. Moriarty, a senior leader, didn't let that happen. He's made 52 saves in four games played against Long Island opponents, and is one of the team's biggest assets against top opponents. Said Kevin Waxon, who scored the eventual game-winner yesterday: "Dom played outstanding as he's done for us all year."

Con: They're young, especially on offense. Bryan Gerrato and Waxon are solid senior leaders. But leading scorer Zach Scaduto is a junior, and secondary scorers Stephen Tita and Eric Gennari are both sophomores. The whole gang was visibly upset throughout its scoreless first half. DiPietro certainly doesn't coddle his players, which could be a positive down the stretch...

Con: Which leads me to my next point, things aren't going to get any easier against Garden City defenders Stephen Jahelka and Brian Fischer and Wantagh goalie Jake Gambitsky. A slow start, which South Side has become notorious for this season, will certainly doom their conference streak.

For all their second-hald success, the Cyclones are equally as inept in the early-going. They have scored 14 first-quarter goals in seven games against Long Island opponents, and taking away the seven they scored in a romp over New Hyde Park, it's seven in six games.

So can they hang in? Time will tell...

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