All night, West Islip's primary faceoff man, midfielder Jon Reese, was getting beat on the draw. But that was regulation. This was overtime. Time to start anew.
"I know Craig, he's one of the best faceoff guys in the whole country," Reese said of his Smithtown West counterpart, Craig Madarasz, who is so good at his craft that he has committed to Johns Hopkins for next year. "I told myself, 'This is overtime. I can't let him get a clean break-in.' "
So Reese got physical, standing up Madarasz. "I played the body. The ball was on the ground and it was a dogfight," Reese said.
West Islip's Nick Aponte raced in from the wing, scooped up the ground ball and the Lions immediately called timeout.
Though it wasn't the play drawn up by West Islip coach Scott Craig, Reese wound up getting rewarded for his faceoff win. After a minute and a half of cautious possession, Reese took a cross-field pass from Tom Moore and fired home an overhead shot to the lower left with 2:20 left in overtime, giving West Islip a thrilling come-from-behind 7-6 victory over host Smithtown West Thursday night in front of packed bleachers on both sides.
For 47 minutes and 55.4 seconds, it appeared Smithtown West would beat the eight-time defending Suffolk Class A champions. Goals by Ryan Keenan (two goals, one assist) and Christian Zawadski provided Smithtown West with a 6-4 lead with 9:40 remaining.
But Ryan Wieczorek scored unassisted to make it 6-5 with 3:10 left. Then, on a sequence that began with 27.7 seconds left, Aponte ran behind the cage, darted in on goalie Ryan Adler from the left side, ducked under a screen and barely sneaked in the tying goal between Adler's legs.
"It actually hit off his shorts and went in," said Aponte, who had two goals. "I was supposed to go over the top of the screen but there wasn't time so I cut it under. I had no angle so I tucked my stick and dove in front. That was so close. You have no idea."
Craig called for the same play out of the timeout in overtime, but Reese said, "It didn't work. Nick couldn't get free. So we went into our regular set. We have other guys who can score."
One of them is Moore, who netted both of his goals in the second period. "Tom drew the double team and gave me the backside pass," Reese said. "He did the hard part. I had the easy part. I was hoping I didn't miss."