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Mac O’Keefe leads Syosset past Garden City in lacrosse

Macaire O'Keefe #3 of Syosset, left, gets

Macaire O'Keefe #3 of Syosset, left, gets pressured by Doug Mongiardo #44 of Garden City during a non-league varsity boys lacrosse game at Garden City High School on Tuesday, Mar. 22, 2016. O'Keefe recorded a goal and three assists in Syosset's 6-3 win. Credit: James Escher

Mac O’Keefe’s lacrosse stick was more like a magic wand in the first quarter — disappearing act included.

The Syosset attack faked left and fooled a defender into thinking he passed the ball. Instead, O’Keefe charged in for a breakaway goal to tie the score at 1 with about six minutes left in the quarter.

He also added three assists as Syosset beat host Garden City, 6-3, Tuesday in its season debut.

“I’ve worked on that my whole life, I just never really put it into action,” O’Keefe, who is committed to Penn State, said of his fake-out. “I did it in one of the scrimmages and it worked, so I figured why not?

“It was a pretty big statement win,” he added. “We had a little rough patch in the preseason, but I think we picked it up today and got the wheels going. We were patient on offense, we didn’t really force the issue, and our defense played as a team.”

Garden City’s Jamie Atkinson scored just more than two minutes into a physical first quarter, but O’Keefe’s equalizer broke up the momentum. The Trojans cycled the ball well for most of the first and often set the tempo, but were held to the outside and forced into low percentage shots when challenging the Braves’ defense.

O’Keefe lobbed a ball to Lucas Cotler in open space inside the 20-yard line, and Cotler scored to give the Braves a 2-1 lead with 34 seconds left in the first. J.P. Lannig scored seconds later as Syosset went up by two.

Both teams spent plenty of time in the offensive zone in a scoreless second quarter, but neither put many shots on goal. Trailing by three goals in the third quarter, Garden City got within two when J.P. Basile scored with 6:51 left in the period, but Syosset pulled away on goals by Cotler and Liam Kalbacher, who each had two on the day.

Syosset coach John Calabria said his team still has some work to do, but praised the “grit” shown against a strong opponent.

“Our guys came and brought a ground ball war . . . and that allowed us to win the game,” Calabria said. “We have a lot of young guys on the field and they got great experience against a great team.”

Added Cotler: “We’ve got to be confident we can win the one-on-one matchups, play unselfishly, and I think that got us the win.”

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