Dylan Martini of Wantagh (left) and teammate Joe Nicholson of...

Dylan Martini of Wantagh (left) and teammate Joe Nicholson of Wantagh react to Dylan Martini’s goal during the Nassau boys Class C lacrosse finals on Friday, May 24, 2024 at Hofstra University. Credit: Dawn McCormick

Wantagh reached the Nassau Class C championship game each of the previous two seasons, but Manhasset ended up being the team out there celebrating.

“It’s always a motivator when you lose,” Wantagh coach James Polo said.

This time, the ending came with sticks and helmets flying in the air and landing on the turf Friday night at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium. The Wantagh players were racing out toward goalie Kyle Conklin. This time, they were the ones celebrating after claiming the boys lacrosse program’s first county crown since 2001.

Top-seeded Wantagh defeated No. 3 Island Trees, 13-4, behind six goals from Dylan Martini, three from Joe Nicholson, two goals and three assists from Dylan’s cousin, Jake Martini, and 10 saves from Conklin.

“It’s means the world,” Dylan Martini said. “We came in December, started working out with the team. We knew we had special talent this year. We knew we had a chance.”

The title had special meaning to their leader.

“This group of boys, the seniors, the majority have been with me since even before I had them on the lacrosse field,” Polo said. “I had a bunch of them in elementary school.

“So to have them from elementary to middle to now they’re seniors in high school, going to be young men going to college, to have them do this and lead us to the promised land is outstanding. No better feeling.”

And it meant even more because of the player who wasn’t with them. Will Desroches was going to graduate from the JV to the varsity for this season, but there was a tragedy last August. Desroches died at age 15 in a personal watercraft crash on a lake in New Hampshire.

“He was a quiet, humble kid,” Polo said. “He was just always there to work hard to be a good kid. These kids that are juniors now, they miss him. They’re on the team and they’re playing for Will. We’re all playing for Will.”

Now Wantagh will be playing for a Long Island championship against Bayport-Blue Point. BBP beat Wantagh, 8-7, on March 22.

“I think that this is what we anticipated from the get-go,” Polo said. “We knew that they were one of the top dogs in Suffolk. We knew that we were one of the top dogs in Nassau. We’re ready to go and see who’s the best on Wednesday.”

They were the best on Friday night.

After the Bulldogs struck first on Kian McCoy’s first of three goals, Wantagh (16-3) began to take charge.

Dylan Martini and Matt Giacobello scored, and it was a 2-1 game after one quarter.

Then Nicholson and Jake Martini, who is Dylan’s cousin, delivered goals. After McCoy scored again, Dylan Martini and his brother, Luke Martini, each posted another, and Wantagh had a 6-2 advantage at the intermission.

By 3:03 into the third, it was up to 8-2 after two hard shots from the left side.

Jake Martini scored after receiving one of Devin Paccione’s three assists, and then Dylan Martini converted a feed from Jake Martini.

And so it went.

“We got the job done,” Conklin said, “but we’re not done yet.”

Island Trees was done, but the Bulldogs accomplished a lot, winning 12 games and making the semis and the final for the first time in program history.

“It was a fantastic season,” coach Brendan Keesee said. “All our boys stepped up . . . They still made history even though it wasn’t obviously the full Cinderella story like we would’ve hoped.”


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