Weighing in at 140 pounds, soaking wet with sweat, Eddie Perlstein was the heavyweight champion of Nassau County last night.
Lynbrook’s junior midfielder won a crucial faceoff and scored the game-winning goal with 11 seconds left to give the Owls a thrilling 10-9 victory yesterday over Bethpage in a Class B-II quarterfinal game at Hof stra’s Shuart Stadium.
“He doesn’t weigh much but pound for pound he’s the toughest guy on the team,” Lynbrook coach Bill Leighley said.
The top-seeded Owls (14-3) will face Manhasset on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. at Hofstra. No. 5 Bethpage (12-5), led by the elusive Joe Tierney, who scored five goals with an assist, took a 9-8 lead on Patrick Luzzi’s goal with 3:06 left.
Lynbrook had a couple of empty possessions but finally got the ball back with 48.5 seconds left, at which point Leighley called timeout. “We called a play that broke down because of their defense,” he said. “But we practice unsettled situations. We’re good at that. Our guys are always cutting and we score goals that way.”
Sure enough, Kyle Yaeger cut to the cage and Ryan Candel delivered a nice pass that Yaeger converted to tie it with 19.4 seconds left.
That’s when Perlstein, who won 14 of 24 faceoffs, worked his magic one last time. “It happened so fast,” he said. “I got the ground ball and went down the right side. There wasn’t a lot of time left. I just shot it. I always think I can be a spark. I love the fast break and we love to push the pace.”
The pace was frantic, but scoring was infrequent in a first half that was tied at 2. The teams traded goals throughout the second half, with Lynbrook holding the only two-goal lead, at 8-6 after Perlstein’s first breakaway. Goals by Brian Seiter and Mike Carrello, off a feed from Tierney, tied it for the Golden Eagles and set up the dramatic final seconds.
After the teams exchanged handshakes, Leighley found Tierney for an extra embrace and a few encouraging words.
“I told him he’s a great player. I’ve been coaching against him for years and I respect him and I’m in awe of how he plays,” Leighley said. “We had our best guy on him [defenseman Zach Barrett] and he still scored goals. I told him I’ll have a lot more fun watching him play in college [at Marist] then I had coaching against him.”