Wantagh's Jake Martini (42) tries to get by Plainedge's Jaxson...

Wantagh's Jake Martini (42) tries to get by Plainedge's Jaxson Gawronski (32) in the third quarter during the Nassau boys lacrosse Class C semifinal playoff game between Plainedge and Wantagh on Friday May 26, 2023 at Hofstra. Credit: Bob Sorensen

As Wantagh’s lead shrank early in the fourth quarter, Kyle Conklin stood in his cage, not too high, not too low.

The Wantagh junior goalie “stayed in the grey,” a headspace where Conklin kept his composure following four straight Plainedge goals.

Conklin stopped eight shots, including four in the fourth quarter, and helped No. 2 Wantagh hold on against No. 3 Plainedge in a 9-7 win in the Nassau Class C semifinals at Hofstra’s James M. Shuart Stadium on Friday night.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” Conklin said. “Plainedge is a huge rival of Wantagh, and we’re happy to be on to the next round.”

Jake Martini led Wantagh (13-5) with four goals and a behind-the-back assist to Danny Fisenne. Martini’s fourth goal gave Wantagh an 8-3 lead late in the third quarter.

“Everyone has had their moments this season. It just happened that today was mine,” Martini said. “It means everything to play for a county championship.”

“The moment doesn’t get too big for him,” Wantagh coach James Polo said of Martini. “He really wanted to prove that he belongs up with the top kids in the county today. And I think he did a nice job of that.”

Caden Morra scored twice in a span of 14 seconds before the end of the third quarter to make it 8-5 and spark a four-goal run for Plainedge (12-6). Braden Donnellan’s lone goal brought Wantagh within 8-7 with 9:03 left in the fourth quarter.

But Wantagh settled, and ninth-grader Devin Paccione scored Wantagh’s first goal of the fourth quarter with 4:58 to play, ending the Red Devils’ four-goal run.

Wantagh ran the clock out and prevented Plainedge from scoring again. Conklin made two late saves moving from side to side in his crease and maintained the two-goal advantage.

“The offense did a great job at the end holding the ball,” Conklin said.

Wantagh will face No. 1 Manhasset, the defending Class C state champion, in the Nassau Class C championship at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Hofstra. Manhasset beat Wantagh, 17-10, in the two school’s lone meeting earlier this month.

“You never want to lose twice to the same team, especially when it’s on a big stage like this,” Conklin said. “We definitely want to take care of business.”

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