By Bill Landon
P..J. Clementi powered No. 1 Harborfields’ boys lacrosse team to its first Class B final appearance since 1992.
Though scoring four goals in the first half of the Tornadoes’ 11-7 semifinal win over visiting Rocky Point May 23, his four assists in the second proved much more crucial.
The team had likened the game to boxing match. After the first two quarters, the teams were in a 6-6 stalemate, but Clementi said he knew the difference was Harborfields had what it took to last all four rounds of this fight.
“There’s no doubt [Rocky Point] is a great team, but we’re built for this — we’re a 48-minute team,” Clementi said. “Halfway through the fight we knew we had ‘em, so we stood on the gas pedal and it showed on the scoreboard.”
Although Rocky Point had its fair share of time with the ball, the Eagles struggled to get a clear shot on goal. The Tornadoes defense swept up several passes for turnovers and Harborfields was right back on attack.
“We really took it play by play, goal by goal — stayed focused on the little things,” senior Andy Derasmo said. “Getting ground balls and clearing makes the game.”
Clementi connected with Derasmo (three goals, one assist) three times in the second half to help Harborfields to a lead it would not relinquish. Clementi also handed the ball off to senior Jimmy Bifulco (three goals, one assist).
Harborfields head coach Glenn Lavey said he told his team to not worry about the tied halftime score, putting an emphasis on remaining physical to tire out the Eagles by the second half.
“We had to just focus on grinding,” he said. “I told my guys I wouldn’t be surprised if it was tied at halftime. I told them you win a 12-round boxing match with body blows — it’s not easy to stay with us an entire game.”
Rocky Point senior Mike Vaden (two goals, one assist) scored the final goal of the game. Classmates Jake Wandle and Zach Gill also added two goals apiece for the Eagles. Sophomore Tyler Kotarski made a game-high 15 saves to Tornadoes senior Zack Yorio’s 12.
Harborfields will face No. 3 East Islip for the Suffolk County title Wednesday May 30 at Islip High School at 4:30 p.m.