South Side celebrates their win in the NYSPHSAA Class B boys...

South Side celebrates their win in the NYSPHSAA Class B boys lacrosse semifinal game at SUNY Albany in Albany, NY on June 5. Credit: Kelly Marsh

It was looking bleak for South Side, down five goals with four minutes left in the third quarter against Section I power Yorktown in the state semifinals.

“Seven-two, we’re feeling pretty good,” Yorktown coach Tim Schurr said.

And then it turned at the University at Albany.

The Cyclones scored the next seven goals and ultimately won, 10-8.

But three days later, it was again looking bleak for South Side, down five goals with two minutes left in the third quarter against Section V power Victor in the state final. The score was 8-3.

And then it turned at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium.

“They’re a fantastic team,” Victor coach Dan Stone said. “We knew that wave was coming.”

This was a tidal wave generated by the Cyclones.

They came back twice. First, they passed Victor with a 7-1 run before getting passed by one. But they tied it on a goal by Mike Aiello with 0.8 on the clock, then won it 19 seconds into OT on a goal by Cole DiPietro off an assist from Liam Livingston — 12-11.

An unforgettable championship season was complete for the Cyclones. They were Nassau, Long Island and state rulers of Class B boys lacrosse for the first time in 20 years.

“Grinders,” coach Steve DiPietro said after the finale on June 8. “We’ve had the most difficult schedule. We’ve had every type of game, every type of situation. We’ve played all the top teams and we learned lessons along the way that we’ve taken with us.

“To be able to perform in a game like this, it just shows that we don’t quit and no matter what the situation is, these guys play.”

These guys played 22 games. They won 21 of them, including the final 15 after falling at Wantagh.

“That loss in the regular season just killed us,” senior midfielder/attackman Owen West said. “We didn’t want to lose another game for the rest of the season.”

Their experience and work ethic paid off, too.

“We have so many seniors, 27 of them, and 23 of them play on the same futures team against our PAL league,” Aiello said. “. . . We work day in and day out, every single day.

“And this was the year. All of us stayed together throughout high school. And it was such a surreal moment. I love doing this with my guys.”

The senior attackman posted 102 points on 59 goals and 43 assists. Junior midfielder Cullen Lynch scored 53 goals, including three to help power the big comeback vs. Victor.

West delivered 46. And Cole DiPietro, the senior midfielder and the coach’s son, put up 31.

Then there was the dominant X factor at the faceoff X.

“Michael Melkonian, remember the name,” Aiello said.

The Cornell-bound senior, one of 19 players on this team who also won a Nassau championship in football last fall, provided possession a program-record 80.6% of the time.

“He’s a special, special kid,” Steve DiPietro said.

Senior defensemen/long stick midfielders Patrick Mullin and Chris Diez, senior defensive midfielder Jack Lozito, junior defensive midfielder Mike Benfante and senior goalie Michael Muscarella stood out trying to prevent goals.

“We’ve been together for at least 10 years, all of us, even the younger kids,” Cole DiPietro said. “We’re all very tight. It’s just a big group of friends and brothers that wanted to win together.”


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