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Brendan Gallivan, Sean Nealis lift Massapequa in Nassau 'AA' semifinal

Massapequa's John Romano reacts after his team's 1-0

Massapequa's John Romano reacts after his team's 1-0 win over Farmingdale. (Nov. 3, 2013) Credit: James Escher

Brendan Gallivan remembered the feeling vividly as a freshman when his Massapequa boys soccer team reached the county final.

When the Chiefs returned last season, Gallivan, then a junior, was forced to watch from the sideline after having successful open heart surgery on his aortic valve.

Now one of the top players in the county as a senior midfielder, Gallivan made the play of the game in Sunday's Nassau Class AA semifinal against Farmingdale at Mitchel Athletic Complex.

Gallivan's high-arcing feed deep inside Dalers territory enabled Sean Nealis to head a gorgeous ball into the back of the net in the 28th minute as the top-seeded Chiefs held on for a 1-0 victory.

"It was definitely a great team play," Gallivan said. "[Nicholas] Bernhard dropped it off to me, and I was just trying to slide it in to someone."

That someone happened to be Nealis, who was in the right place at the right time, diving through the air to make contact.

"I saw [Gallivan] and we made eye contact," Nealis said. "I just jumped up and got it. The power I put on it and the adrenaline I had going into that shot, I knew it was going in up top."

Dan Vitiello was the difference in making the goal stand up for the Chiefs (12-1-2). The senior goalkeeper denied Dalers senior midfielder Louis Villamil in the 42nd minute on a penalty kick, easily the best scoring opportunity for No. 4 Farmindale (10-2-3).

"As a goalie, when you see a shooter looking one way, you know he's going the other way," said Vitiello, who dived to his right to stop Villamil's shot. "We got a lot of momentum at that point. We're the kind of team that has everyone's back. When one player steps up, everyone steps up."

Villamil admitted he knew where he was going with the shot. He also was hoping the Dalers would do a better job of possessing the ball.

"[Vitiello] looked big in the net," Villamil said. "I could have shot it both ways, either to his right, or left. I had to guess right."

Massapequa coach Keith Stanley said Vitiello has been accustomed to making clutch saves on penalty kicks.

Farmingdale coach Kevin Shanley understood the importance of Vitiello's play.

"He made a brilliant save," Shanley said. "They're a quality team and they deserve to play for the county title. We had to slow them down, and I thought we played exactly the way we wanted to play. We got some chances. I'm proud of our guys and their effort."

Syosset advances. Matt Zipkowitz attacked the sideline just the way Syosset coach Brett Waxer wanted the junior forward to do late in Sunday night's Nassau Class AA semifinal against Hicksville. Zipkowitz allowed senior midfielder Scott DeBenedittis to take the feed and send the Braves into the county final with a goal in the 78th minute in Syosset's 2-1 win.

"He's one of those players that keeps you up at night," said Hicksville coach Scott Starkey, whose third-seeded Comets finished 11-4-2.

No. 7 Syosset (10-5-2) will face top-seeded Massapequa (12-1-2) for the county championship at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Adelphi.

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