For South Side midfielder Dan Mallay, the final minutes stirred contrasting emotions. He was angry; he was jubilant. He was shocked; he was relieved.
Mallay scored on a rebound of his own shot with 1:46 left to give No. 5 South Side a thrilling 8-7 comeback victory over host No. 4 Wantagh yesterday in a Nassau B lacrosse quarterfinal.
“We moved the ball. I got free in the middle with a hitch step and had a good shot,” Mallay said of the goal that gave him a hat trick, but one he felt should have happened on the initial shot. “I was kind of angry, but then I stuck with it. It was a scramble for the rebound and the goalie hugged the pipe a little too much and I put it bottom left. My first game-winning goal. Good time for it, especially since I’m a senior.”
That was the anger-jubilation spectrum. But more drama soon followed. There was an exchange of turnovers in the final minute, but the Warriors wound up with possession and 21 seconds left. Senior middie Matthew Robbins made a strong dash-and-dodge maneuver down the right side and scored with 5.6 seconds left, apparently tying the game. But the goal was waved off when an official ruled offsides on Wantagh, and the call was upheld after the three officials huddled.
“I was ready for overtime. He put it in and it’s on to the next play. Sometimes things happen you can’t control,” Mallay said. “It was awesome the call went our way.”
That was the shock-relief portion of Mallay’s — and the Cyclones’ — roller-coaster ride that carried them into Tuesday’s Nassau B semifinals at 5:30 p.m. at Hofstra against No. 1 Manhasset. “
We got a little luck at the end with the offsides call,” acknowledged South Side coach Steve DiPietro, after his team improved to 10-7. “But I always say luck is the residue of hard work. We could’ve hung our heads at 7-5. We took some good punches, but we got some good looks, got some key ground balls, key strips and key clears.”
Brothers on defense, Joe and Nick LiCalzi, made several important plays in the fourth quarter after Christopher Tucker’s third goal gave Wantagh (9-6) a 7-5 lead with 7:31 left. Mike Leake capitalized twice in one minute, eventually tying it with 5:16 left with an unassisted blast from a sharp angle.
South Side gained possession with 3:40 left, prompting DiPietro to call a timeout and setting the stage for Mallay’s magic moment. “We knew it would be a one-goal game because of how well-coached Wantagh is. We wanted to be patient, but we wanted to win it or have it go to overtime,” DiPietro said.
The Cyclones nearly got both.