Tuesday’s Nassau Class B semifinal between No. 2 Manhasset and No. 3 Wantagh finished too late to appear in Wednesday’s paper so I wanted to provide some additional detail on what ended up being by far the best game of the day.
The Warriors (15-3) played by far their best game of the season to upset the Indians, 17-11, setting up a rematch with Garden City in the finals. It is the first time Manhasset has missed a Nassau County final since 2000
Matt Balzano had four goals and an assist, Corey Stavis had three goals and three assist and Kyle Cain and Brian von Bargen each had three goals as Wantagh put up the most goals allowed against the heralded Manhasset defense of Bobby Duvnjak and Stefan Pate and goalie Evan Molloy.
“We threw a different couple of offenses in today,” Wantagh coach Gary Reh said. “We ran a circle offense which allowed a little more space. They had to slide adjacent rather than from the one and two normally in the crease so that helped us a little bit spreading it out a little bit.
“Like I said we’re hard to stop at the midfield and when I saw the type of matchups they gave us, we took advantage of it and our guys are tough to cover.”
Wantagh came in averaging 13.88 goals per game while Manhasset allowed just 6.25.
“We really feed off each other,” said von Bargen, who also had an assist. “We’re not a selfish team at all. In years past, some guys wanted all the glory. But now this year we’re so unselfish, we move the ball. People just get open.”
Perhaps the biggest key to Wantagh’s success was their composure. The Warriors, known for being a physical squad, took just one penalty on an offside call. Reh said the lack of penalties was a “huge focus” for his team. In their loss to Massapequa earlier in the season, Wantagh fell behind early as the Chiefs scored five man-up goals.
Manhasset (12-5) started off with a 2-0 lead but Wantagh responded with three goals in a span of 2:10 to go ahead 3-2. After Manhasset’s James Clarke tied the game at 3, Wantagh regained the lead on a shot by von Bargen at the buzzer of the first quarter.
The game continued at a fast pace into the second quarter. Manhasset’s Quinn Moroney (two goals, four assists) zipped a pass more than 20 yards across the field to Christian Zanetis (two goals) who made the score 5-4 early in the second. D
Duvnjak scored with 2:38 to go in half to make it 7-6 and the Warriors held on to a one-goal edge at the half.
Moroney tied it at 7 early in the third but Manhasset could never regain the lead as Wantagh went on a 3-0 run and never looked back.
Will Fitzpatrick played outstanding in net and made 10 saves for Wantagh.
“He’s really good in tight and you saw it tonight even on that one they scored he stuffed the kid on the first one and almost had the second,” Reh said of Fitzpatrick. “He really came up with some big saves for us and did a phenomenal job.”
Brian von Bargen:
On what Wantagh has to do in the finals against Garden City:
We have to literally do almost everything right, be perfect on all cylinders. Fitz played on his head today, he’s going to do that again. We just got to want it more. That’s what it comes down to in the end.
Wantagh coach Gary Reh:
On the pace of the game:
I’m happy with the pace. When people let us get up and down the way we like to run and gun that’s our game. When they were not coming out and putting Duvnjak on our middies and not slowing us down from the top I was excited about the way they approached that.
On a rematch with Garden City in the finals:
Our motto over at Wantagh is we’ll play anybody, anywhere, any time. They are the best team in the country right now but we’re going to come out here and we’re going to line up and play them as hard as we can and see what happens in the end.