Half Hollow Hills celebrates its win in the Suffolk Class...

Half Hollow Hills celebrates its win in the Suffolk Class A boys lacrosse final on Thursday, May 23, 2024. Credit: Bob Sorensen

Any team hoping to end a championship drought should hope that it can pull off the feat as well as Half Hollow Hills did on Thursday in the Suffolk Class A boys lacrosse championship game.

The ThunderColts scored five times in the third quarter against three-time defending county champion Northport and then made just enough to plays in the fourth quarter to hold on for a 9-8 victory at Longwood and dethrone the Tigers.

Anthony Raio had three goals, Zach Marco and Joe Filardi each had two and Jake Casamento was exceptional as he took primary weapon Jack Deliberti almost entirely out of the Tigers’ offensive equation.

This is the second time overall and first time since 1962 that a team representing the entire school district has won a county championship (Hills West won titles in 1981 and 1993). ThunderColts coach Connor Hagans, a Hills West alumnus, raced into the stands with his entire team trailing him to feel the embrace of the Hills fans.

Asked about the team’s accomplishment, Hagans choked up when he replied, "It’s awesome. I never was in a playoff win as a player, but to come back and lead our school district is more rewarding than you can imagine. Our team is incredible.”

Of Casamento’s effort, he said, “He’s a hero – he got the assignment and he totally bought in.”

Half Hollow Hills (18-1) will play for its first Long Island championship when it faces Farmingdale at 4 p.m. Wednesday at Longwood.

The ThunderColts’s five-goal third quarter ended with four unanswered scores to take a 9-6 lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Filardi scored the first two for a 7-6 lead and Raio’s third goal made it 8-6. But final play of the third quarter was a ThunderColts masterpiece for a goal at the buzzer.

It started with Raio blitzing from the right side and ended with Luke Bradley passing out from behind the net to Ryan Chung for a true shot from the left side and a 9-6 lead. Five players got touches in the last 10 seconds.

“It’s just how its drawn up,” Marco said. “And this is a group of players that really works well together.”

As the ThunderColts huddled before the fourth quarter, Hagans delivered a message.

“He told us that these are the special moments we will never forget and we should go after it so there are no regrets,” Raio said.

“He said this thing we’re doing together is something we’ll never forget,” Filardi said.

Logan Cash had three goals and Luca Emaleh scored two for Northport, which closed to 9-8 with 4:15 to play on Emaleh’s second goal. Hills maintained possession for virtually all of the rest of the game. The Tigers got a late turnover but Marco made a steal before they set up on offense.

Having their breakthrough against Northport was especially rewarding for Half Hollow Hills. The Tigers have been the standard for years and ended the ThunderColts’ bid for a perfect season with a 7-3 defeat on May 8.

“It’s a storybook ending,” Hagans said. “We wanted Northport and we reached our goal . . . This team gets it done.”


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