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Joe Saggese, Brian Willetts, Dan Rooney lead Smithtown East to first title game

Smithtown East's Brian Willetts, center, celebrates his goal

Smithtown East's Brian Willetts, center, celebrates his goal in the Suffolk Class A boys lacrosse semifinal against Sachem North on Friday, May 23, 2014. Credit: Richard T. Slattery

Joe Saggese is the quarterback who breaks down defenses with great speed and vision. Brian Willetts is the 6-3 shooter with the 105-mph shot on the right wing. Dan Rooney is the crafty lefthanded finisher.

They're the first attack line to ever start two straight seasons together in the seven years Jason Lambert has coached Smithtown East's boys lacrosse team.

And last night, they led the Bulls to the program's first appearance in a Suffolk Class A championship game.

Willetts and Rooney each scored four goals with two assists and Saggese added two goals and two assists as No. 3 Smithtown East beat host and second-seeded Sachem North, 17-11, in a semifinal.

"They're the perfect mix of attackmen," Lambert said. "They're a matchup problem because they all bring three different things to the game."

Smithtown East (15-3) will play West Islip in the county final at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Stony Brook University.

It didn't look like that would happen early on as the Bulls trailed 8-6 at halftime. But Gerard Arceri opened the third quarter by winning three straight faceoffs and each possession led to a goal to give the Bulls a 9-8 lead with 10:19 left in the third quarter.

Jimmy Hoffman tied it at 9 for Sachem North (14-4), which was led by Joe Caridi's four goals, but the Bulls went on a 4-0 run to close the quarter.

Smithtown East freshman midfielder Connor Desimone added four goals, including three in the fourth quarter.

After struggling to score in the first half, the attack line displayed its continuity as the ball moved from stick to stick.

"You can't ask for a better momentum-changer than what Gerard was able to do," Saggese, a senior, said. "We moved the ball a lot better and didn't settle for 15-yard shots and instead looked for each other and for shots on the doorstep."

"We just all make each other better," said Rooney, a sophomore. "They're the playmakers and I'm the finisher and we just go well together."

The trio's chemistry led Willetts, a junior, to believe early on that a county final appearance was possible.

Said Willetts, "I wouldn't trade for any other two attackmen."

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