Owen West #4 of South Side (four goals in first...

Owen West #4 of South Side (four goals in first half), right, gets pressured by Matthew Ferraro #6 of East Islip during the second quarter of the LI Class B boys lacrosse championship at Shuart Stadium on Wednesday, May 29, 2024. Credit: James Escher

Just four days after winning its first boys lacrosse county title since a magical 2004 season, South Side had no interest in letting another special season end on Long Island’s biggest stage.

Senior Michael Melkonian won 21-of-24 faceoffs, senior midfielder Owen West had four goals and an assist and junior attackman/midfielder Cullen Lynch had a hat trick as South Side celebrated a 12-9 win over East Islip in the Long Island Class B championship Wednesday night at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium.

“These have been my best friends since kindergarten,” Melkonian said. “It’s the best feeling ever. I just want to keep it going.”

Following a master class in obtaining possessions, Melkonian was named championship game MVP.

“Every faceoff I go next-rep mentality, I try and erase whatever happened before,” Melkonian said. “Just keep going and just make sure I get my team the ball so we can get opportunities to score.”

The 2004 season was magical for the Cyclones, winning county, Long Island and state titles — the only previous three titles in program history. Twenty years later, South Side is just three wins away from equaling its most decorated season.

“This group of guys, they put everything into it all offseason,” said 17-year South Side coach Steve DiPietro, who was the Cyclones offensive coordinator in 2004. “They worked, they put the time in, and they knew what was in front of them and they knew what they were capable of.”

South Side (18-1) will play Section IX winner Warwick in the Southeast Regional final at 3 p.m. Saturday at Middletown High School. East Islip finished 17-2.

Wednesday pitted the two schools in November’s Long Island Class III football championship, which East Islip won, 19-14. Fourteen East Islip and 19 South Side football players are on the respective lacrosse squads.

Melkonian won 10 of 12 first-half faceoffs. West cashed in three first-quarter goals and Lynch had one to help the Cyclones gain a 4-2 advantage.

“It’s what Michael’s been doing his entire career,” DiPietro said. “I’m so proud of him. He’s such a great leader and he leads by example. Obviously when you have the ball, it’s a gift.”

Attackman Michael Aiello scored his 50th goal of the season to give South Side a 5-2 lead with 9:13 left in the first half. East Islip midfielder Ryan Parker scored a goal on a two-man advantage to cut it to 5-3 with 7:10 until halftime, but Lynch’s second goal with 6:10 remaining and West’s fourth 1:27 later gave the Cyclones a 7-3 advantage at the break.

East Islip goalie Drew Walendowski (16 total saves) made nine first-half stops to keep his team afloat despite the significant disadvantage in possession and shots (South Side outshot East Islip, 23-11, in the first half.)

Parker and Lynch traded goals to start the second half before East Islip rattled off a 3-0 run. Attackman Ethan Benardos cut it to 8-6 with 3:17 left, and South Side goalie Michael Muscarella (eight saves) stopped him point blank about a minute later to start a massive two-goal swing. Attackman Griffin Mills extended South Side’s lead back to three with 1:21 left in the third.

South Side led by as many as five goals and never fewer than three in the fourth quarter.


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