This is familiar territory for Jack Archer. The senior has been to three straight Long Island Class B championship games.
He’s won each one of them.
“There’s no nerves,” Archer said of what he tells his teammates who haven’t experienced this game. “You just got to go out and play. You’ve been doing it your whole life.”
Garden City defeated West Islip, 10-6, in the Long Island Class B boys lacrosse championship game at Stony Brook University’s LaValle Stadium on Saturday.
This is Garden City’s third straight Long Island Class B championship and its 19th Long Island championship out of 25 all-time appearances.
“These are the goals every year, to be in these sorts of games,” coach Steve Finnell said. “It’s not as easy as people think. It’s really hard. We graduated some amazing players from last year, and then [we ask] who’s going to step up this year? I thought they did an awesome job today.”
Cole Sparks of West Islip (13-6) didn’t waste any time jump-starting the Lions offense. The senior fired a shot from the right side which Garden City’s Denis Fargione, who made seven saves, initially stopped but then trickled into the goal.
The Lions held a 1-0 lead just 1:17 into the game. Sparks notched his second goal late in the first quarter which gave the Lions a 2-1 lead.
Archer, however, answered both Sparks’ scores with goals of his own, both of which Henry Gibbons assisted on.
“You just got to put it in the back pocket,” Archer said. “They can come out and get you first, but you always got to answer back.”
Sparks flirted with an assist to Derek Busking in front of the net — reminiscent of a play in the Suffolk Class B championship — shortly after Garden City (16-4) tied the game. However, the Trojans’ defense disrupted the play.
James Paisley broke the tie in Garden City’s favor with a rebound goal with 6:16 left in the second quarter. Stevie Finnell made the score 4-2, about two minutes later, with a crafty side-arm goal whipped past Cameron Dorfman, who finished with eight saves.
The senior started at the top of the zone, juked left and ran past the initial defender. He took a few steps more before spinning back to his right hand, firing a laser for an unassisted goal.
“It was supposed to be a sweep,” Finnell said. “He kind of shaded that side of the field. It gave me the alley, so I just went underneath and kind of got myself into some trouble. Thankfully I got out of it and got off a shot.”
Finnell also tallied an assist with just 25 seconds left in the first half to help Paisley notch his second goal to put Garden City up 6-2 at the break.
Archer said that the team had the momentum at the break and not to look back. The senior added two assists in the second half to finish the day with two goals and two assists.
Andrew Ottomanelli led the scoring with three goals, two of which came off Archer’s feeds. Carson Kraus and Michael Berkery each scored one goal.
For West Islip, Sparks led with three goals and one assist, and Pat Keenan scored two goals.
Finnell emphasized the importance of closing out games, referencing the nine one-goal games the Trojans had this season. They lost four of those games, letting teams come back.
Garden City will play in the semifinals on Wednesday either at the University of Albany or Tompkins Cortland Community College. The Trojans look to repeat as NYSPHSAA Class B champions and earn their ninth state title.
“These are the games you want to play in,” Finnell said. “Big games, big names — in the playoffs, obviously. It matters more, and it’s more fun.”