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Gerard Arceri leads Smithtown East to first Suffolk Class A lacrosse title

Smithtown East's Gerard Arceri wins the faceoff and

Smithtown East's Gerard Arceri wins the faceoff and moves past West Islip's Ian Prate in the Suffolk Class A final on Wednesday, May 28, 2014. Credit: George A. Faella

The running of the Bulls all began with the winning of the draws.

Sophomore sensation Gerard Arceri won 20 of 21 faceoffs to trigger the fast break and Smithtown East won its first boys lacrosse county championship Wednesday night, defeating nine-time county champ West Islip, 15-7, in the Suffolk Class A final at Stony Brook's LaValle Stadium.

"Our offense is all about possessions," Arceri said. "Once we get our fast break going, we can score a lot of goals in a hurry."

John Daniggelis scored four goals to lead the Bulls (16-3) and Brian Willetts added three. "When Gerard gets us possessions and we score quick goals, that's a complete game-changer," Willetts said. "He's the best. We love him."

The Bulls will face Nassau A champion Massapequa for the Long Island title at 1 p.m. Saturday at Hofstra. West Islip, which won the Suffolk title from 2004-12 and owns five state crowns, finished 13-6.

Smithtown East had to wait until the final minute of the first quarter to get its offense going. Tom Marino scored the first of his two goals with an unassisted shot from the wing and 12 seconds later, after Arceri won the faceoff, Dan Rooney scored the first of his two off an assist from Joe Saggese (one goal, three assists). "If I get us the ball, I know these guys will score," said Arceri, who joined the scoring parade himself with a pair of assists off faceoff wins that set up third-period goals.

West Islip scored three goals in 1:46 to reduce the deficit to 4-3, but then the Bulls ran off seven straight goals in the second and third quarters, with Arceri setting the tone.

He capped his stellar performance by winning a faceoff a minute into the fourth quarter, taking it all the way down the alley and scoring an unassisted goal that gave the Bulls a 15-5 lead. Arceri was removed at that point, with the game well in hand, and did not take the final two draws -- both won, incidentally, by Smithtown East freshman Steven Cuccurullo.

"I used the pinch-and-pop method," Arceri said of his preferred strategy. "I use my quickness to clamp down hard and drag the ball into my stick."

His pinching and the Bulls' subsequent popping of shots from all angles produced some history for Smithtown East, which like the rest of Suffolk County's Class A schools, has had few opportunities to win titles because of the Ward Melville and West Islip dynasties.

"This is an amazing feeling," Willetts said. "I can't even begin to describe it. It's a magical run."

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