For Smithtown East, it’s often about the luck of the draw.
“He’s the x-factor. He makes us go. He’s the MVP of our team by far,” Bulls midfielder Connor Desimone said of faceoff wizard Gerard Arceri.
“He’s the most important guy on the team,” attack Dan Rooney said.
Arceri was a dominant quick-draw artist all game, but Massapequa countered with its own offensive brilliance and two of Long Island’s top teams were tied with 1:57 remaining after Rooney found Desimone in front for the equalizer.
The next possession would likely decide the game. “It’s 16-16. It’s me at X. Number 44. The captain. I had to do it and I did it,” Arceri said of what proved to be the game-winning sequence.
He won the faceoff for the 28th time in 35 draws, and that ignited the Bulls’ high-octane offense. Arceri fed Sean Barry, who moved it to Desimone who found Rooney open for an angled blast that provided a 17-16 non-league victory Saturday at Burns Park in Massapequa.
“We practice the fastbreak offense in practice all the time,” said the Penn State-bound Arceri who is rated one of the top faceoff specialists in the nation. “I know when a big faceoff is coming up, but I try to block everything out and just wait for the whistle. Half of it is physical strength and technique, but half of it is mental. Every time I go out there, I think I’m going to win it.”
Arceri triggered an offense with firepower aplenty. Desimone scored four goals and an assist, Rooney netted three goals with an assist, Luke Eschbach had two goals with three assists and Bobby Burns had two and two in the Bulls’ opener.
The Chiefs (1-1) are also loaded on offense. James Hall scored five goals, Justin Lynskey scored three goals with three assists and Ryan Tierney and Casey Kimmel each had a hat trick plus an assist.
Massapequa scored three goals in 1:40 to take a 14-13 lead in the closing seconds of the third quarter on Kimmel’s coast-to-coast dash. With 2:58 remaining in the fourth quarter, Lynskey took a feed from Kimmel in transition and scored to give the Chiefs a 16-15 lead.
With the game on the line, Arceri won the next faceoff on a violation and Rooney squeezed his pass into a tight window where Desimone had his right hand poised to fire. “It was on my strong hand,” Desimone said. “Dan is always looking for me because he knows I’ll finish.”
Desimone returned the favor to Rooney for the game-winner after another clean faceoff win by Arceri. Ostensibly, there was plenty of time for potent Pequa to tie the game, but only if the Chiefs could get possession.
Arceri made sure that didn’t happen and after his final faceoff win, the Bulls were able to run out the clock. “Back and forth; down two; up two, all even,” was Rooney’s apt description of the action-filled game. “We just moved it and scored. Share the rock.”
With Arceri a stone-cold lock at X.