MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. - It wasn't unusual for Anthony Izzo to receive good-natured ribbing from Commack teammates after games this season.
The junior midfielder had several chances to score during the regular season but finished with only two goals. Teammates joked with him about it. Izzo always smiled and laughed along because, after all, the team kept winning. But . . .
"I guarantee, knowing him as well as I do, he kept it all in the back of his mind and took it personal,'' goalkeeper Ryan Sinnott said. "I know he used all of that as a chip on his shoulder, as motivation. He was waiting for his chance to make something happen.''
The opportunity came this weekend. Izzo didn't miss it.
A day after scoring the overtime winner in a semifinal, Izzo had two goals in the second half to lead Commack over Fairport, 2-0, Sunday at Middletown High School for the state Class AA boys soccer title. "Without a doubt,'' said Izzo, typically a reserve, "this has been the best weekend of my life.''
It's the first state soccer title for the Cougars (20-1-1) since 1995. "Just an unreal feeling that words can't describe,'' midfielder Justin Cebollero said.
Gene Sicoli played a big role in both of Izzo's goals. On the first, Sicoli beat two defenders and got off a good shot from close range. It caromed off the crossbar toward Izzo, who chipped it in with 17:40 to play. On the second, Izzo got the rebound of another of Sicoli's shots and buried it from close range with 6:54 left. "Whatever he's been eating lately,'' Sinnott said, "he's got to keep eating it.''
Some players thought it was only a matter of time for things to work out for Izzo. "We knew this had to be coming for him,'' Ryan Nigro said. "He works his butt off too much for it not to.''
Commack's back line of Nigro, Peter Brennan, Josh Eisler and Noah Gittleman won almost every ball in the air in the final minutes. Midfielder Mike Pallonetti also had a good game and clogged the passing lanes.
Afterward, hundreds of Commack students who traveled more than two hours chanted players' names. Black and gold flags were waved. Hugs and smiles were plentiful.
"This is incredible,'' said Sinnott, who had a typically solid game with seven saves. "This means so much for everyone in Commack. Everyone has been pushing for us. This was more than just for the team. It was about the community.''
Izzo's was one of the names chanted. There was no ribbing. There were, however, many thank yous. Said Nigro, "What would we be without him this weekend?''
Possibly not state champions.