The West Islip girls lacrosse team didn’t fret when trailing by two goals late in the Suffolk Class A title game. They fought like Lions.
Sure, Vanessa Costantino admitted there were some nerves in the huddle. But the senior quickly put those nerves on the back burner and went on an incredible run in the game’s final four minutes, culminated by the winning assist on a tally by Emily Piciullo with 1:24 left in the game that sent the Lions to a 9-8 win at Dowling Sports Complex over top-seeded Smithtown West.
“There was a little panic to be honest,” Costantino said. “But what happens with us is that we do situational things a lot in practice. Our coaches do very well with giving us plays to do in situations like this, so we knew that we had to fight like Lions and not give up.”
Smithtown West’s Natalia Lynch had been a handful in the first half-plus. She scored five goals for the Bulls, but her final tally came with 16:08 remaining in the game.
From there on out, the Lions were able to keep her from threatening.
Smithtown West’s Mackenzie Heldberg assisted Chelsea Witteck with 7:03 left to go up 8-6, but the Bulls were kept off the scoreboard from there.
Costantino began the comeback at 3:59, and then unleashed a laser from the 8-meter line at 2:35 that tied the score at 8.
Coach Joe Nicolosi had faith in his senior to bring his team back. He said he didn’t draw up plays for Costantino. Instead, he let her play like a star.
“Vanessa is a playmaker,” he said. “She’s an All-American for a reason.”
Added Piciullo: “She has the heart, and she has the confidence to go for it.”
Both goalkeepers played well, adding to the pressure of the game’s final moments. West Islip’s Lauren DiStefano made eight saves, and Smithtown West’s Marisa D’Amico made seven.
West Islip will play the winner of Wednesday’s Nassau Class A championship game between Massapequa and Oceanside on Sunday at an undetermined location.