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Sam Lucchesi, Garden City defense spark Class B lacrosse win

Sam Lucchesi #21, Garden City goalie, left, passes

Sam Lucchesi #21, Garden City goalie, left, passes upfield during the Nassau County varsity boys lacrosse Class B final against Manhasset at Hofstra University on Tuesday, May 31, 2016. He held Manhasset scoreless in the fourth quarter to allow the Trojans to rally from a 5-1 deficit to a 7-5 win. Photo Credit: James Escher

Garden City was in a four-goal hole entering the fourth quarter and looked flat. But because Trojans goalie Sam Lucchesi was sharp, there was time to rewrite the melody.

“Sam and the defense kept us in the game. It could’ve been much worse,” Garden City coach Steve Finnell said.

Lucchesi made seven of his 11 saves in the second half and J.P. Basile scored three goals during a startling fourth-quarter rally as Garden City stunned Manhasset, 7-5, on Tuesday to win the Nassau Class B championship at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium.

The Trojans won their 11th straight to improve to 14-5 while Manhasset, the defending Long Island Class B champion, finished 15-4. The Indians, with Matt Gavin scoring two goals, led 5-1 entering the fourth quarter. “It could’ve been 8-1 or 9-1,” Finnell said. “Sam was unbelievable. If our defense doesn’t play well, we’re done.”

Lucchesi, a senior, said he never lost faith in his offense. “I thought it was big if I could just keep it close,” he said. “Just get to the next save and the next shot. We just hung in there and were able to capitalize. Our offense never gave up.”

Basile, a 6-4 Duke-bound junior, took advantage of his height against a smaller defender and scored unassisted early in the fourth quarter to start the comeback. Less than a minute later, Jamie Atkinson scored from the high slot on a pass from Kyle Steinbach (one goal, two assists) and suddenly the Garden City sideline was jumping.

“Those goals got us amped,” Lucchesi said. “One after another. Our offense was amazing in the fourth quarter. We’re really resilient.”

Three goals in 59 seconds gave Garden City a 6-5 lead with 7:08 left, a lead that seemed improbable only a few minutes earlier. Basile finished a neat dodge-and-spin from behind the cage; Steinbach took a feed from Luke Keating, and Sean Dillmeier (two goals, two assists) put the Trojans on top with 7:08 left.

Garden City controlled faceoffs, Lucchesi turned away a couple of shots and Basile cut to the cage and finished to make it a two-goal cushion and a 6-0 fourth quarter. Garden City was on its way to Saturday’s Long Island Class B championship at Hofstra against the winner of Wednesday’s Suffolk Class B title game between Shoreham-Wading River and Sayville.

“Everyone connected. We went to a ‘big-little’ set and used picks and switches,” Basile said of the offensive wrinkle that helped turn the game.

The emotional wrinkle? “They beat us in the playoffs the last two years,” Basile said. “I didn’t want to lose to Manhasset again.”

Thanks to their hot goalie, Garden City can sing a different tune this time. Play it again, Sam.

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