PITTSFORD, N.Y. — For Garden City’s James Basile, his shot and his emotions are at an all-time high.
The junior attack’s rising laser from a sharp angle found the back of the net with 1.6 seconds left, touching off a jubilant sideline celebration in the Trojans’ dramatic 7-6 victory over defending champion Victor in the state Class B championship game on Saturday.
“Everything was going through my mind at the end,” Basile said of the emotional twists and turns in the final minute when Garden City lost a two-goal lead, then got a another chance when Justin Coppola won the faceoff with 8.5 seconds left. Coppola threw it to Liam Muldoon, who whipped a pass to Basile at the right wing. “The last two times I shot it low and he [elite goalie Chayse Ierlan] stopped it. So this time I shot it high.”
That gave Garden City (18-3) its seventh state title and first since 2013. It also ended a run of three straight state championships for Victor (20-2), which won the B titles in 2015 and 2017 and the A title in 2016. “The best feeling in the world,” said Basile, who had three goals, two in the first quarter.
It was the worst feeling, however, when Victor’s Connor Keenan scored with 59.1 seconds left to make it 6-5 and when Andrew Russell drew Victor even with 8.5 seconds left. “That was scary,” said senior midfielder Tyler Wuchte, one of the team captains. “But Justin has been phenomenal all year and when he won it and started going forward, I had a feeling.”
Initially, Basile wasn’t quite as confident after the Blue Devils tied it. “For a second, I was thinking about overtime,” he admitted. “But with Justin, I knew we had a shot.”
Coppola, who won 12 of 14 draws, went to the faceoff X with a plan. “I wanted to move it forward, so even if they won it, they wouldn’t have chance to get a shot on goal,” Coppola said. “I clamped it, got it forward and had some space. I drew the defense, passed to Liam and he zipped it to James.”
Coppola’s reaction: “When we watch the video, you’ll see I just fell flat on the ground,” he said with a laugh.
Garden City had built leads of 5-3 on Muldoon’s second off a pinpoint pass to the crease by Cole Dutton and 6-4 on Joe Scattareggia’s solo dash down the left alley with 6:55 left. The Trojans tried to run out the clock with a couple of long possessions, punctuated by stall warnings, but Victor’s defense was equal to the task.
“We had to keep it in the box,” Wuchte said of the stall-warning rule, “but their defense gave us a tough time and they got the ball back a couple of times. That was scary at the end.”
Scary and hairy, but Victor had to be wary . . . of Coppola. “He’s been a beast all year for us,” Trojans coach Steve Finnell said.
Now he’s a beauty.