Matt Licciardi was already in a groove, having won three straight faceoffs by pulling the ball back to his Cold Spring Harbor teammates late in the third quarter, but a change in direction proved to be the best way forward.
Licciardi won his next faceoff going forward and scored his third goal of the game on a fast break down the field to put his team up by one with nine seconds left in the third quarter, a lead which hardly seemed safe in a game that had been tied four times.
But his mark lasted behind goals from Ian Laviano and Taylor Strough as Cold Spring Harbor beat Pleasantville, 12-10, in the state Class C semifinals Wednesday at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium. The Seahawks (17-1) face Penn Yan Academy in the finals Saturday at Middletown High School at 1:30 p.m.
“It was a tight game, we expected a good game,” said Licciardi, who added two assists. “I thought we possessed the ball a lot better in the second half, we got good shots on offense. From top to bottom, I thought we played well. Everybody did their jobs and I’m proud of them.”
Cold Spring Harbor opened the game in dramatic fashion when goalie Devin Burdo crossed midfield and launched a hard shot to take the lead 28 seconds in and Kevin Winkoff made it 2-0 a minute later, but Pleasantville (19-4) answered on the next possession and both teams fought for momentum from there.
Pleasantville had eight shots on a four-minute possession at the end of the first, but ran into an unshakable defense that controlled space and contested each attempt. Cold Spring Harbor jumped out to slim leads, but Pleasantville tied the game at 2, 4, 8 and 9 through the first three quarters before Licciardi made it 10-9.
“Every time we took that lead of two or three they just came back,” Cold Spring Harbor coach Dennis Bonn said, “But credit to our kids, somebody had an answer. As helter-skelter as it got, I thought we played pretty composed.”
Strough, who scored four goals, added that the feeling was much different than when his team beat Pleasantville by a large margin last year in the state semis, saying that the close win makes things sweeter.
“It’s absolutely crazy, but we’ve still got one more,” Strough said. “We can’t have that mentality that we’re done. We have to finish it out.”