MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. - After winning the Nassau County and Long Island championships with dazzling displays of second-half sleight-of-stick trickery and deception, the magic finally ran out Wednesday for Syosset.
The Braves were shut out in the fourth quarter as Niskayuna rallied for a 14-11 victory in a state Class A semifinal played before a crowd estimated at 3,000 at Middletown High School.
"Our kids had trouble finding their groove," Syosset coach John Calabria said. "Niskayuna took us out of it. Niskayuna was better than us today."
The Braves had outscored Smithtown East 7-0 in the second half to beat Smithtown East, 14-8, in the Long Island championship and outscored Massapequa 9-2 after intermission in a 17-8 victory in the Nassau title game. On Wednesday, after Mac O'Keefe scored his fifth and sixth goals of the game 14 seconds apart late in the third quarter, the Braves took an 11-10 into the final period. "We ran out of gas," Calabria said. "I've been concerned about magical second halves. We make our own destiny with hard work. You can't rely on magic. The ball doesn't always roll your way."
Niskayuna (20-2), which will face West Genesee in Saturday's state Class A final in Binghamton, started its game-winning roll when Lucas Quinn scored his fifth goal of the game, unassisted while falling down in the slot, to tie it at 11 with 10:42 left. Two minutes later John Prendergast put the Silver Warriors on top 12-11 with a blast from the outside.
Syosset had a long possession but couldn't get a shot off against Niskayuna's big, mobile defense and turned it over. But defensive midfielder Michael Elardo made a big play, forcing a Niskayuna turnover and giving the Braves a chance to tie with five minutes left.
However, after another empty possession that ended in a turnover, Niskayuna's slick Aidan O'Brien scored unassisted with an overhand beauty for a 13-11 lead. The Silver Warriors won the ensuing faceoff with 2:47 left and eight seconds later, O'Brien made a strong dodge from behind and scored on a jump shot for an insurmountable three-goal lead. He finished with two goals and four assists.
"Our journey ends here, but I'm proud of our effort," Calabria said.
"Beating programs like Massapequa and Smithtown East to get off Long Island was special. But in the fourth quarter, it looked like Niskayuna wanted it more. They had answers for what we tried to do. They took it from us."
The Silver Warriors had the magic.