Babylon had it all going Saturday, from A(ntolini) to Z(appia), but the letters that mattered most were L-I-C.
The Panthers scored the first seven goals and rolled to an 11-7 victory over Locust Valley at Hofstra's Shuart Stadium to win the school's first Long Island Class C boys lacrosse championship.
"I'm ecstatic," said Luke Zappia, who along with Nick Santorelli, scored four goals each while Nick Antolini added a pair as Babylon led 5-0 after one, 8-3 at halftime and 11-3 entering the final quarter before Locust Valley's late flurry. "We were trying to put Babylon on the map for lacrosse."
Babylon (11-7) already is a boldface presence on the map of Long Island in football. There are 18 players on the lacrosse team who were part of the Panthers' football Long Island championship squad last November. "Of course that helped," Zappia said. "We played here [Hofstra] in football and we love the big crowd and the atmosphere."
The Panthers, who advanced to Wednesday's state Class C semifinal at Hofstra at 8 p.m. against Bronxville, gave their orange-garbed fans plenty to cheer about early, as Zappia, Santorelli, Antolini, Santorelli again and Ray Wardell scored in the first-quarter blitz. Wardell's rocket from the wing was a real back-breaker for the Falcons as it came with 0:01 showing on the clock. Zappia added a pair of unassisted goals 1:28 apart early in the second quarter for a 7-0 lead.
"It may have looked easy but it didn't feel easy," Santorelli said. "We just all clicked as a team. Everyone did a little something they hadn't done before."
By doing something that hadn't been done before in school history, midfielder Wardell and defenseman Jake Carlock joined a very exclusive club. They were part of teams that won back-to-back Long Island championships in football, plus the school's first LIC in basketball in 2012-13 and of course, this spring's fling in lacrosse.
"They get a little better each time," said Carlock, who hadn't played lacrosse since his ninth-grade season but joined this squad just before the start of the season after much prodding from his senior pals, partly because star defenseman Eric Schweitzer was sidelined with a knee injury suffered at the end of the football season. "They needed a guy to play some defense, but the other guys are the real stars. I couldn't replace Schweitzer. He's something else. And they're all great athletes. I just wanted to help. They deserve this moment."
It was a stress-free game until the fourth quarter, when Locust Valley (13-5) scored four straight goals, including two by Joe Madsen. His second came with 5:54 remaining, but any hopes of a shocking comeback were squashed by the clutch goaltending of Matt Pinto who made nine saves. "I call him 'Hank' because he's like Henrik Lundquist back there. He's a brick wall," Carlock said.
Asked to select his favorite from among his four LICs, Carlock, who will play football at Stony Brook, said, "I can't pick one over the other. They all feel great and I'll never get tired of it."
He's had an A+ career.