A lot of pluck and a little luck. That's what it took for Chaminade attack Matt Kavanagh to score one of his four goals Wednesday. The other three, plus his two assists, were pure skill.
Kavanagh showed off a variety of moves in leading the Flyers to a 9-7 victory over host St. Anthony's in a matchup of the top two teams in the Nassau-Suffolk CHSAA. Chaminade improved to 12-2 with its second victory over the Friars (11-3) this season.
"It's always a three-round heavyweight fight with these two teams," Chaminade coach Jack Moran said. They will play for the state Class AAA CHSAA title on May 26 at Hofstra. "Someone gets a knockout in the last round," Moran quipped.
It was Kavanagh who supplied the offensive punch. His first goal was his most spectacular. With the Flyers clinging to a 3-2 lead in the second quarter and St. Anthony's goalie Kieran Burke attempting a clearing pass, Kavanagh applied stick pressure and amazingly snatched the ball out of the air. He then beat the Friars' goalie to the empty net and scored.
"He was trying to get it to a defenseman and I stuck out my stick," said Kavanagh. "Yeah, it was a little bit of luck. When I got the ball, he was behind the goal so I had to beat him to the net. He dove and almost stopped it."
Chaminade goalie John Connors, meanwhile, came up big early, making consecutive flashy saves on Brian Sherlock and Nick Alibrandil in the first quarter and robbing Billy Mayne in the second quarter. After St. Anthony's rallied from a 6-3 deficit to tie it on two goals by Sean McDonagh and one by Matt Chanenchuk, Connors stopped Sherlock breaking out of the box on a fastbreak late in the third quarter, keeping it tied. He finished with 13 saves.
"He not only made big saves, but he settled down our defense," Moran said. "He's a leader. He's the general. Or maybe I should call him the admiral, since he's going to Navy."
Kavanagh took the wheel of Chaminade's ship in the fourth quarter. He converted a slick feed on the right doorstep from Ryan Lukacovic (two goals, two assists) to make it 7-6. He then fed defenseman Quinn Michael in the slot for another goal and iced it with a solo dodge from behind the net to score unassisted with 1:46 left for a 9-6 advantage.
"We really wanted this one after Saturday night ," Kavanagh said. "We quickly forgot that game once this one started. We know these three games against St. Anthony's are the biggest games on our schedule every year."