On the game’s first sequence, a clean faceoff win by Syosset, Massapequa keeper Mike Venezia made a tough save. Venezia duplicated that trick on the first sequence of the second quarter.
“Mike was a brick wall. He kept us in the game in the first half,” Massapequa coach Tim Radomski said.
The Chiefs’ defense acted as a moat in front of Venezia’s brick castle as Massapequa throttled high-scoring Syosset, 8-4, Friday in a duel of unbeaten teams in Nassau I.
“That’s only Round 1. Round 2 will be for the heavyweight championship,” Radomski said of a potential county championship game between the two perennial powers. Massapequa is 6-0; Syosset is 6-1. They have met for the county title in the previous four seasons, with Syosset winning the last two and Massapequa winning in 2014 en route to a state title.
“We’ve been preparing for this game since September,” stalwart defenseman Mike Peco said. “Their offense has some heavy hitters so we knew we had to play Chiefs lacrosse — that’s what we call it. Hard-nosed blue-collar lacrosse. Push out on the ball, create turnovers and be aggressive.”
Peco, who held Syosset’s leading scorer J.P. Lannig (28 goals) to just one goal, and Griffin Hawthorne anchored a solid defense that limited Syosset’s shots. Of the ones that were on target, Venezia stopped nine, seven in the first half, which ended with Massapequa on top 4-3 on a late goal by James Hall, who also had a second-half goal.
Garrett Gibbons scored twice in the second half and Brendan Nichtern had a goal and three assists for Massapequa, which surrendered only one goal in the final three quarters.
“The most important thing was maintaining composure and maintaining our position against their attack,” Hawthorne said. Of his duel with Lannig, the junior added, “I’ve played with him [on club teams] and against him. It’s a great rivalry and it’s always great going against him and seeing who can get the first step.”
Massapequa built its lead to 6-3 on a third-quarter goal by Gibbons and a fourth-quarter goal by Hall, who scored while falling down after a slick dump-down pass from Kevin Lynskey. Matt Benus finally broke through for Syosset to make it 6-4 with 5:54 left, but Angelo Petrakis won the ensuing faceoff and Massapequa was able to control the ball and the clock down the stretch.
Gibbons and Kyle Korwan closed out the scoring for the Chiefs. “Syosset is a high-powered offense so holding them to four goals is great,” Radomski said.
Venezia called it “a huge win. It’s what we’ve been playing for since they beat us in the counties last year. This could lock up the No. 1 seed for the playoffs.”
It was another brick on the road to Massapequa’s ultimate destination.