It’s tough to say which Ryan Leach is better at — scoring big goals or postgame celebrations.
On second thought, he’s pretty good at both.
The Massapequa striker connected on his second goal of the match — the winning score with 5:34 left in the first overtime — to give the second seed a thrilling 2-1 win over No. 6 Syosset in a Nassau AA boys soccer semifinal at Berner Middle School on Friday night.
As soon as Leach scored, he took off his game jersey, swung it around in his right hand and ran to the Massapequa section of the stands to set off a raucous celebration.
"I just reacted. It kind of hit me all at once," said Leach, who scored the equalizer in the 72nd minute for the defending Nassau AA champs. "It was a golden goal, winner-takes-all moment."
Massapequa (9-2-1) travels to No. 1 Hicksville (10-1-1) at 4:30 p.m. Monday for the AA final.
"We knew [Leach] had untapped potential and we’ve been working with him," Massapequa coach Matthew Burke said. "We’ve been looking for him to step up and he certainly did tonight."
Syosset (6-5-1) took a 1-0 lead less than two minutes into the second half on a goal from Aiden Miller.
"We came out a little flat, and they took advantage with a great goal," Burke said. "Luckily for us, we still had about 38 minutes to play."
Massapequa kept attacking the Syosset end, but time and time again goalkeeper Cole Nevins was there.
"That kid stood on his head," Burke said. "He’s a phenomenal goalkeeper."
He ended the night with 15 saves, but none were better than a spectacular one-handed punch on a Massapequa shot from in close with just under nine minutes remaining.
"Cole is so comfortable in net, and he just sees the game very well," Syosset coach Brett Waxer said. "He’s an intense, hardworking kid, and he was a big reason why we were here."
But Massapequa finally cracked the code with 8:12 left in regulation. Vincent DeLuna found Leach near the penalty spot, who scored the equalizer in the 72nd minute.
"It’s just the Massapequa mindset," DeLuna said. "We’re always hyped, even when we were down 1-0, we never lost confidence. We knew this was our game."
On the other side, the Syosset team — which lost twice in the regular season to Massapequa by scores of 1-0 and 2-0 — was left thinking about what could have been.
"We were a little more than eight minutes away [from reaching the final]," Waxer said. "But, unfortunately, Massapequa got back into the game, and you could feel the shift. They came back, and you have to give them a lot of credit. They did what Massapequa teams usually do, which is find a way to finish."
Now, the only thing left for Massapequa is the chance to win their fourth Nassau crown the past nine seasons. Massapequa won AA titles in 2019, 2015 and 2013 (the latter season including the program's only state championship in boys soccer).
"I couldn’t have [scored two goals] without my teammates," said Leach. "I’m just so excited we get a chance to bring back another county championship."
And, perhaps, a few more big goals and another celebration.