On a wind-chill kind of night, Cold Spring Harbor senior attack Taylor Strough sizzled.
Strough scored five goals, including the game winner on a feed from Matt Licciardi with 3:28 left, as host Cold Spring Harbor edged Smithtown West, 10-9, in the non-league opener for both teams.
This was no ordinary non-league game, however. It matched the Seahawks, who have won the last two state Class C titles and have aspirations of being the first Long Island boys lacrosse team to win three straight, against perennial Class A contender Smithtown West.
“We like to schedule tough non-league games,” said CSH coach Dennis Bonn, whose team is the top seed in Nassau C primarily because it returns three offensive standouts — Strough, who also had an assist, fellow attack Ian Laviano, who scored four goals and midfielder Licciardi, who scored the tying goal and had three assists. “All three just really love the game. And if you key on one of them, there’s always someone else.”
Laviano and Strough scored consecutive goals in the third quarter to provide the game’s first two-goal lead, at 7-5. Prior to that, the Bulls had a territorial edge because of the faceoff work of Conor Calderone and a big advantage on ground balls. “At 7-5, I thought, ‘okay we’re settled down now,’” Bonn said.
But Smithtown West unsettled things by scoring the next four goals — two by Dan Riley, who had a hat trick, and one each by John Hoffman and Calderone, the latter after a clean faceoff win that made it 9-7 with 1:11 left in the third.
“At 9-7, the coaches kept telling us to stay in it,” said Strough, who began the comeback with a blast from the left wing with 6:30 left in the fourth. After the Seahawks regained possession when Dylan Guarneri collected a ground ball, Bonn called timeout with 5:06 left. Twenty-five seconds later, Licciardi tied it with a blast from the top slot.
Calderone won the ensuing faceoff, but Cold Spring Harbor again forced a turnover and Teddy Bentley avoided several defenders to carry the ball into the offensive zone, where Bonn again called time.
“We ran a set play, not automatically for Taylor to get it on the left side,” Bonn said, “but when Matty goes left, he feels comfortable knowing Taylor is there.”
Strough was ready. “We’ve run that play since our first state championship (in 2015),” he said. “When Matty dodges left and I’m there, something good usually happens.”
The game had the heat and intensity of a late-spring playoff game, despite the bone-chilling temperatures and biting wind. “You really felt it in your fingers and toes,” Strough said. “But my father always says, ‘you’ve got to move to live’ so we just kept moving.”