To the Ward Melville shooters, there was one significant stretch of the third quarter when the Half Hollow Hills East goal must have looked as wide as the end zone behind it.
“We were feeding off the energy on the sidelines and in the stands,” midfielder Zach Hobbes said. “It feels like you can’t miss.
In fact, the Patriots did not. They scored six goals in 3:03 — amazingly on just six shots — and rolled past Hills East, 15-6, on Thursday in a Suffolk A semifinal played at Islip High School.
Hobbes and attack Matthew Grillo each scored three goals with two assists. The game turned dramatically and quickly in the third quarter when faceoff artist Mike Giaquinto made an adjustment that resulted in him winning seven-of-eight draws and scoring two goals directly off faceoff wins during the 6-0 burst.
“My coaches told me to get low on the ground balls,” said Giaquinto, who split 10 faceoffs in the first half but dominated in the third quarter when he won the loose-ball scrums.
Twice he won the draws cleanly and raced in for unassisted goals. “It really gets the momentum going. It was my first two goals of the season,” he said, beaming. “Get hot for the semis. Yeah!”
The feeling was contagious. “You could feel it click,” Giaquinto said. “And when we click on offense, we really get going.”
Ward Melville (16-2) is going to the Suffolk A finals on Wednesday at 3 p.m. at Stony Brook’s LaValle Stadium against Smithtown East, which defeated Smithtown West 7-5 Thursday night. Hills East finished 14-4.
The Thunderbirds got two goals and an assist from Sean Lulley, one of Long Island’s leading scorers with 90 points. But he scored only once in the first three quarters while mostly being defended by Andrew McKenna.
“We knew he was their main guy, a great player,” McKenna said. “We played great defense for the first three quarters (before the subs were inserted) and it was great watching the offense do the job by controlling the ball. We thought it was awesome. It made our jobs a lot easier.”