Half Hollow Hills midfielder Anthony Raio looks to pass in...

Half Hollow Hills midfielder Anthony Raio looks to pass in Suffolk I win over Sachem North on Tuesday, April 25, 2023. Credit: Peter Frutkoff

Sal Santoro and his Half Hollow Hills teammates played harder, and they played for each other.

The host Thundercolts trailed Sachem North by three after the first quarter of their Suffolk I boys lacrosse matchup on Tuesday.

Behind Santoro’s 11 saves and Anthony Raio’s four goals and one assist, Half Hollow Hills rallied to win, 11-8, the Thundercolts’ seventh straight win.

Santoro played in Tuesday’s game after his grandfather’s funeral service the same day. The Hills goalie has made 10 or more saves in six games this spring, none more meaningful than the stops against Sachem North.

“I played for my nonno (grandpa), I played for my dad. I’m playing for my family,” the sophomore said. “It was an emotional week, but we got through it.”

“The team needed Sal, and Sal needed the team,” Hills coach Connor Hagans added.

The Thundercolts (9-2) fell into an early three-goal hole after failing to convert on three man-up opportunities in the first quarter. James Reid, who led Sachem North (6-5) with two goals and two assists, scored and had two assists in the first quarter.

Zach Marco put Hills on the board with 7:14 to play in the first half before Raio scored the first of his four goals to pull within one of Sachem North.

“We were making a lot of mistakes. It was a little sloppy, a couple of turnovers in the offensive end,” Raio, a sophomore midfielder, said. “But we cleaned it up in the second half.”

That turnaround started on the second half’s opening faceoff.

Long stick midfielder Joe Filardi gathered the loose ground ball, swept down the field and tied the score at 3 just 16 seconds into the third quarter.

“I just like pushing the ball in transition, giving my team more points on the board to help us win,” Filardi said.

Hills outscored Sachem North 9-5 in the second half, including four unanswered goals in the fourth quarter. Ryan Chung secured 16 of 22 faceoffs for the Thundercolts.

Hills has not lost since its April 4 game against Northport, the defending Long Island Class A champions. Ward Melville, the only Suffolk I team undefeated in conference play, is the other loss.

“We’ve been in tough situations like this, and I think we’ve been fortunate to be a second-half team,” Hagans said. ”But the guys have all stayed together. We’ve worked through adversity and this was no different.”

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