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Anthony Izzo's goal gives Commack w OT win and state soccer final berth

Commack's Anthony Izzo celebrates his overtime game-winning goal

Commack's Anthony Izzo celebrates his overtime game-winning goal during an NYSPHSAA Class AA semifinal at Middletown High School on Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014. Credit: Adrian Kraus

MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. - With his customary dirty blond spiked mohawk, Anthony Izzo, a reserve on Commack's boys soccer team, said he was playing out "100 different scenarios" in his head as he stood on the sideline in a sweatshirt.

His mind was full of ideas about how he could help break a scoreless tie in overtime and send his team to a state championship game.

There were several ways he could've done that because Izzo's versatility allows him to fill multiple roles off the bench. He's a solid defender. He's a capable scorer. He's a spark plug.

Izzo's role Saturday was that of unlikely hero. And, yes, he said, it was one of the scenarios he envisioned.

Izzo was reinserted into the game with about five minutes left in the sudden-victory overtime period. And seconds later, he scored the winner.

The junior midfielder's goal lifted Commack over Shenendehowa, 1-0, in a Class AA boys soccer state semifinal at Middletown High School.

The Cougars (20-1-1) will play Fairport (17-3) for the championship here Sunday at 1 p.m.

"I can't believe it, man. This is amazing," Izzo said. "Everything about the play was perfect."

It started with a throw-in by Josh Eisler. Scott Cebollero got the ball near the net and flicked it to Izzo, who cashed in on the goal line.

Hundreds of Commack students, who traveled more than two hours to see the game, chanted Izzo's name. The rest of the team swarmed onto the field and mobbed him.

"Anthony never stops working, no matter what," goalkeeper Ryan Sinnott said. "He's special."

Sinnott (seven saves) was tremendous for Commack in what was an even matchup. The junior made back-to-back saves on shots from close range in the first minute of the overtime period. He made a pair of diving stops during the final minutes of regulation.

"Some of those saves he made today were just . . . wow," midfielder Gene Sicoli said.

Commack's defense made several critical plays under pressure. Eisler cleared the ball from the goal line twice late in regulation. Peter Brennan made tackles throughout the game that led to takeaways.

The result of the defense's solid play was Commack's fourth straight shutout.

One goal, however, was just as hard to come by for the Cougars as it was for their opponent.

That is, until Izzo took off his sweatshirt, checked back in and changed that.

Izzo said he was instructed simply to "just work my butt off." Not that he needed to be told.

"He's one of our blue-collar, lunch-pail kids," coach David Viegas said.

"He's the ideal player to come off the bench because of the energy he provides for us," Sicoli said.

Sicoli, a captain, turned 17 on Saturday. The large crowd of students serenaded him with "Happy Birthday" moments before the game. And Izzo said he was glad to do his part to make it a memorable occasion by scoring his third goal of the season.

Said Izzo, "I hope it's the best birthday present he ever got."

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