It was an Atlas rocket.
“Eight seconds left. No timeouts. What could I do? I had to go to the rack,” Islip senior attack Jeff Atlas said after his goal with 7.4 seconds left gave the Buccaneers a thrilling and historic 8-7 victory over Cold Spring Harbor in the Long Island Class C championship game played under darkening skies Saturday night at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium.
It was Islip’s first boys lacrosse LIC, coming just four days after the school’s first county crown. “This,” Atlas said, emphasizing and pausing after each word, “is the best feeling in the world!”
His second goal of the game was not the one Islip coach Keith Scheidel drew up during a timeout with 1:12 remaining. “We were trying to get Mike Bienkowski off a screen,” Scheidel said of his team’s leading scorer, who also netted two goals Saturday night. “But they shut off that play, so we went to Jeff.”
Atlas acknowledged he wasn’t the first option. “We tried to get Jack [Lizzul who had a goal and an assist] off a pick, then Mike off a screen, but neither was open,” Atlas said. “I came around the left side, goal-line extended and put it high.”
The Buccaneers (17-2) will face Pelham at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday in Albany in a state semifinal. Cold Spring Harbor, which last spring made history by becoming the first Long Island boys lacrosse team to win three straight state titles, finished 16-2. Teddy Bentley scored a hat trick for the Seahawks, who tied the score at 7 on Chris Mormile’s unassisted goal with 6:38 left.
The Seahawks won a loose-ball scramble to regain possession and call time with 6:14 left. But Islip locked off CSH’s top scorer, Kevin Winkoff, using Teddy McLoughlin to face-guard his future college teammate at Binghamton.
“He’s got the ability to shoot and we wanted to limit his touches the entire game,” Scheidel said of a tactic that held Winkoff to one assist. “We did not want him to get the game-winning goal.”
Instead, Bentley nearly did, when his hard shot hit the crossbar with 1:55 left and his follow-up shot was saved by Devin DeGennaro just before Scheidel called his final timeout. DeGennaro and Chris Porzelt each had eight saves, including a couple of tough ones.
Fittingly, a taut game came down to the final possession, one set of history makers taking down another. “We’ve been on the other end of some one-goal games in the playoffs,” Scheidel said. “But these guys found a way to get it done tonight. I’m so happy for them.”
The Islip players celebrated, after the ritual helmet-and-stick-tossing, by racing to the stands where a huge contingent of black-shirted students came down from their seats to the railing, formed a line and reached down for a series of enthusiastic fist bumps and high-fives with the players.
The Bucs stopped there, happily.