MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. - What an incredible two days for Dylan Nealis. A day after scoring the winning goal in Massapequa's Class AA state semifinal, Nealis did it again.
His direct kick just inside the left post in the 58th minute gave the Chiefs their first state championship in boys soccer, 1-0 over Fairport Sunday at Middletown High School.
"I knew I had to step up big time,'' said Nealis, a sophomore whose first two varsity goals came in the tournament. "All these teams are good. I knew if we played our game, we would come out on top.''
Massapequa coach Keith Stanley's decision to insert Edward McMillan midway through the second half turned out to be the right move. McMillan's first touch landed at the feet of Nealis, who was pulled down deep in Fairport territory, setting up the dramatic score.
"I knew the wall was going to jump up, so I slid it under,'' Nealis said. "It felt amazing. I think they thought I was going to put it over the top. It's an honor to share this with my team and win it for them.''
Before McMillan enters a game, Massapequa assistant coach Stephen Fregosi asks him, ''What are you going to get me?'' This time, McMillan's answer was "a state championship.''
"Unbelievable,'' McMillan said. "I'm at a loss for words. All I saw was a loose pass that when I got the ball, I tried to move forward. It worked out.''
It couldn't have worked out any better for Stanley.
"I feel like whoever I put in is going to do something special,'' Stanley said. "This is hard to describe. My job is to not get in the way of the talent and the heart. Let them be who they are.''
Dan Vitiello had the ball last, making one final save and one last clear to record his 12th shutout.
"We feel we're better conditioned and faster than everyone else and that we can use it to our advantage,'' Vitiello said. "I feel we have the best 'D' in the nation.''
Midfielder Brendan Gallivan praised Brandon Merklin, John Romano, Chris McGrath and Kevin Mazol, saying they "deserve all the credit'' for solidifying the Chiefs (16-1-2) and their defense all season long.
"I can't even put it into words the group of guys that got it started, practicing every day from the middle of August up until now,'' Gallivan said. "We did it.''