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Bill Landon

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Eagles fire on all cylinders to sweep Shoreham-Wading River for first Suffolk County championship title

By Bill Landon & Desirée Keegan

John Rosman was ready and eager to take home Rocky Point baseball’s first Suffolk County title.

The senior, who hit an RBI-double in the bottom of the second inning to start off the scoring, took a big lead off third two innings later on a grounder, and hesitated, freezing Shoreham-Wading River’s second baseman before darting home.

Rocky Point’s John Rosman dives for the plate and scores. Photo by Bill Landon

He squeezed his head-first slide in just in time to avoid the tag to give No. 2-seeded Rocky Point an early 4-1 lead in its 7-3 home win over No. 1 Shoreham-Wading River in game 2 of a best-of-three series Class A baseball championship May 29.

With his aggressive base running Rosman helped Rocky Point rake in its first ever county crown. The Eagles had topped the Wildcats 10-1 the day before, where the senior went 2-for-3 with two doubles.

“I’ve been running the bases aggressively all series — I had the confidence that I could get there and just let it happen,” said Rosman, who finished the day 1-for-2 with two runs, a walk and a stolen base. “You can’t make the game bigger than what it is. It’s just a baseball game; you’ve got to stay focused.”

Junior Rob Milopsky pitched a complete game, allowed six hits, one walk, two earned runs and struck out six to earn the win. The starter remained composed even with danger lurking, like when Shoreham-Wading River juniors Michael Smith and Mason Kelly crushed back-to-back home runs in the top of the sixth to bring the Wildcats within two. Milopsky fanned the next two batters to retire the side.

“It was everything I thought it was going to be,” the starting pitcher said of the game. “But I trusted my defense and threw my pitches. Just commanded the zone, gave it everything I had.”

“[You’ve got to give] credit to Shoreham, they can break out at any moment; they’re a dangerous team,” Rocky Point assistant coach Eric Strovink said. “You can’t be too comfortable.”

Eagles starting pitcher Rob Milopsky throws a pitch. Photo by Bill Landon

The offense backed up their starter in the bottom of that sixth inning with two more runs to re-extend the lead. Joe Grillo hit the ball through a gap to bring home Dillon Cassidy and Mike Gunning’s ground-rule double sent Grillo across the plate.

“Words can’t even describe [this], it feels great,” Grillo said. “I’ve been here a few times and never won, and now, we’re champions.”

Ryan Callahan also contributed an RBI-double in the first, and Ryan Maciaszek laid down a bunt that brought home Alex Bonacci for a 5-1 lead in the bottom of the fifth.

Bonacci said he trusted Milopsky to get the job done even when the Wildcats (18-5) closed in.

“I knew he had it in him to go all the way — he looked great from the start,” the senior said. “I honestly had no worries. I knew we were going to get it done, and when it happened, it was awesome.”

The Eagles (20-5) will face Wantagh in the Long Island Class A championship Saturday, June 2, at 4 p.m. at St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue.

“They work harder than anybody out there — they deserved this, they’re an extraordinary group of kids and I’m so happy for them,” said Rocky Point Head Coach Andrew Aschettino. “It’s special.”

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By Bill Landon

Smithtown West’s boys lacrosse team found itself in an unfamiliar position this season.

Down four goals in the third quarter, the Bulls bounced back to tie the game 7-7 and eventually take a 10-9 lead, but a last-minute goal forced overtime, where the No. 2-seeded boys lacrosse team fell to No. 3 Half Hollow Hills East in the Class A semifinals May 24.

With Smithtown West down four goals, seniors Kyle Zaradski and Andrew Arce each scored twice, and junior Matt Caddigan made the go-ahead goal to give the Bulls their first lead of the game with six seconds left in the third quarter.

Half Hollow Hills East’s Mike Gomez found the net four minutes into the final quarter, but Arce stretched the net three minutes later to retake the lead, 9-8. The Colts countered again, but Arce continued to have an answer, scoring his fourth goal of the game for a 10-9 Bulls lead with 3:22 left to play.

With a minute left, Half Hollow Hills East forces overtime, and held the ball for one shot in the final seconds of a four-minute overtime period, which gave the Colts a sudden-death victory.

Smithtown West, which had outscored its opponents 202-82 this season, ended the year with a 14-2 record.

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By Bill Landon

A strong dose of Dylan Pallonetti is just what the doctor ordered.

With his No. 1-seeed Ward Melville boys lacrosse team down 2-0 in the first quarter, the junior scored three straight for a lead his Patriots would not let go of, and capped off the game with another three to seal the deal in a 14-8 Class A semifinal win over No. 5 Connetquot May 24.

Pallonetti ended with a game-high nine goals and one assist on the evening at Islip High School.

“We came out a little slow, but we started moving the ball well in the second half when we figured out their zone,” Pallonetti said. “And we scored some goals.”

He said his team will take the momentum built in this game and transfer it on to the next. Ward Melville faces No. 3 Half Hollow Hills East at Islip High School in the Class A title game May 30 at 7 p.m.

“We’ll have a couple days of practice,” Pallonetti said. “We’ll practice hard, go hard and just keep going.”

Ward Melville head coach Jay Negus said the team didn’t change its game plan when facing the Thunderbirds and will treat Wednesday’s game against the Colts the same way.

“We were a little impatient at first, but we came back to our game plan,” Negus said, noting playmakers on the field, especially on the defensive end, that made some of Pallonetti’s goals possible. “Ethan Larson, Frank Ciniglio, Alex Mazzone and Collin Krieg played well and Patty O’Neill made some unbelievable takeaways that sparked some transition goals.”

Seniors Matt Grillo (two goal, two assists), Zach Hobbes (two goals) and Lucas Flynn (one goal) also found the back of cage for Ward Melville. Senior Ryan Pallonetti, Dylan’s older brother, added an assist.

Ward Melville (16-1 overall, 13-1 in Division I) will look to avenge its only loss of the season. The Patriots fell to Hills East, 7-6, even after scoring three straight goals with 55 seconds left to close what was a 7-3 gap. Ward Melville is vying for its third straight county crown.

“We’ve got our work cut out for us against Hills East,” Negus said. “So we’re going to dig in the next couple of days and be prepared.”

This version has been updated to correct the amount of goals that Pallonetti scored.

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.

No. 9 Harborfields will travel to No. 8 Westhampton today at 4 p.m. in the second round of playoffs

By Bill Landon

Harborfields’ strength lies in its singles play. The No. 9-seeded boys tennis team swept all four singles spots — all the Tornadoes would need in a best-of-seven series — and went on to blank visiting Brentwood 7-0 in the first round of the Suffolk County playoffs.

Harborfields junior Alex Rzehak, who earned All-State honors the last two years, led his team at first singles. He shut down Brentwood’s Armando Santana 6-0, 6-0.

“He’s our No. 1 player,” Harborfields head coach Bob Davis said of his state tournament alternate. “He plays the best kid on every other team in our division. In fact, the top four finishers in the county are all from our division. This is the second year in a row he’s the alternate. He’s a junior, so he’ll get another bite at the apple.”

Eighth-grader Chris Qi, at fourth singles, also shut out his Brentwood opponent.

“He wound up with a 9-3 record this year in our division — that’s not easy,” the coach said. “We have some kids who are serious about tennis, and [slowly but surely] we’re getting there.”

Other young Harborfields athletes shined during the match. Freshman Michael Singer nipped his challenger 6-1, 6-0 at second singles. Singer made the All-County team this year, and won a round in the county singles tournament.

“We’re hoping for big things from him [moving forward,]” Davis said.

Rounding out singles action was junior Bobby Bellino, who won his match 6-0, 6-1.

“He could wind up being the best of all,” the coach said of his third singles player. “He’s got amazing tools, he just has to work on his consistency.”

The second doubles pair of John Mulé and Luke Verdon competed in the only match that went to three sets. After falling 3-6 in the first, the seniors rallied back 6-3, 6-1 to claim a win in the second-to-last match of the afternoon.

“It was interesting,” Mulé said. “We really didn’t play much at all last week because of the weather. We may have underestimated our opponent at first, they’re pretty good.”

Davis, although thinking his team should have been seeded higher, said he’s under no illusion that his team will have to work hard to prepare for No. 8 Westhampton May 23. The Tornadoes will travel to Westhampton for a 4 p.m. match.

“I think we should’ve gotten a high seed … so now we have to go out and prove it,” he said. “Westhampton is a very good team. It’ll be a very good match, so we’ll see what happens.”

Bellino said he’ll be prepared, but added the doubles pairs will also need to be ready to back up the singles players.

“It’ll be a lot of pressure on our doubles guys — they have to come up big and get those crucial points because if one of us in singles loses, we need a doubles team to pull through,” he said. “I’m just going to go in with a clear head and not think about the pressure that’s riding on the game … just go out and have fun, try to find my opponent’s weakness and use that to my advantage.”

This version was updated May 22 at 9 p.m. to change the date of Harborfields’ next game, which was postponed due to rain.

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By Bill Landon

Middle Country’s girls lacrosse team came up short at the buzzer in a Class A quarterfinal game that saw nine lead changes. No. 5-seeded Riverhead’s defense held down the fort in the final 30 seconds against the No. 4 Mad Dogs to pull away with a 13-12 win.

“It was a tough one today,” Middle Country head coach Lindsay Dolson said. “We made some mistakes that we didn’t need to make.”

Down 6-4 at halftime, Middle Country junior Sophie Alois scored her third goal of the game to make it a new one, knotting the score at 6-all three minutes into the second half. After a Riverhead goal, Middle Country senior Emily Diaz dished the ball to Alois, and then to senior Sydney Juvelier 35 seconds later to help the Mad Dogs retake the lead.

The Blue Waves tied it up again before Middle Country did in return, and Diaz scored on a penalty shot with 14:07 remaining to give the Mad Dogs what would be their final lead of the game.

Riverhead rattled off four unanswered goals to take a 12-9 lead and ran crucial seconds off the clock by stalling until the four-minute mark.

With 3:37 left in regulation, Alois split the pipes unassisted and scored her fifth goal of the game a minute later off a feed from junior Jennifer Barry. Middle Country won the ensuing draw and this time, it was the seventh-grader Kate Timarky who wouldn’t be denied, as her solo shot found the back of the net to retie the game, 12-12, with a minute-and-a-half left in regulation.

After a shot on goal by the Blue Waves, controversy ensued and the game’s three officials conferenced on the field. After a minute of deliberation, the trio ruled it a good goal and Riverhead retook the lead 13-12 with 30 seconds left.

Middle Country won the final draw and called timeout with 22 seconds remaining as the Mad Dogs planned their final shot, but failed to get the ball near the cage as time expired.

It was a stinging defeat for the defending Long Island champions.

“When we were down by three we didn’t panic — we have plans for that, and we finished with good draw controls and were able to [retie the game],” Dolson said. “I thanked the seniors for their hard work their dedication — they will be greatly missed and we wish them good luck next year.”

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By Bill Landon

Comsewogue almost called it a comeback. The girls lacrosse team trimmed a four-goal deficit to one in the final minutes of a first-round Class B playoff game against visiting East Islip May 18, and despite winning possession on the final draw with 20 seconds left, the Warriors failed to find the net, falling 9-8.

“We have awesome players with amazing speed — our seniors Hannah [Dorney] and Brianna [Blatter] stepped up, they played a hell of a game,” Comsewogue head coach Jaqueline Wilkom said. “We had to win that draw and push it down toward the net at the end, but unfortunately the game didn’t end in our favor.”

Dorney, a University of Notre Dame-bound senior, won possession and Comsewogue called timeout with 20 seconds on the clock. With time for one last shot, the Warriors turned the ball over and the Redmen recovered and let the clock run down.

“We’re very young — we have five middle-schoolers and only four seniors,” Dorney said. “We had two key players out for most of the year, so for a while we were a little lost.”

The senior, who came into the game second among Suffolk County scorers with 85 points, four behind Northport’s Olivia Carner, found the net four times and assisted on a goal in her final Comsewogue lacrosse game. She finished the first half with a hat trick, scoring twice on penalty shots and once off an assist from junior attack Julia Fernandes. Her third goal closed the gap to one, 4-3, and even with No. 5-seeded East Islip countering with two goals in just over a minute’s time, No. 4 Comsewogue came back to keep the deficit the same, with the Warriors down 6-5 at the halftime break.

After the Redmen tallied two more scores to start the second, a Comsewogue penalty put the Warriors at even more of a disadvantage, as East Islip capitalized on the opportunity to go up 9-5. Sophomore Olivia Fantigrossi scored her second goal, freshman Nelida Watson assisted Fernandes’ second and Dorney scored on another penalty shot to give the game its final score with 29 seconds left.

“We pump each other up from the sidelines, and our bonding in practice is what helped us get this far,” Dorney said. “We’re a family.”

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Natalie Ardizzone smacks the ball into the outfield. Photo by Bill Landon
Right fielder Dani Badillo tracks down a fly ball in right. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

The No. 4-seeded Smithtown West softball team found itself in a hole against No. 13 Lindenhurst that it started to climb out of before the May 15 Class AA playoff game was suspended due to weather.

“We made a couple of mistakes early on, and you can’t do that against a team like that,” said Smithtown West head coach Dave Miller. “Yeah, we’re the No. 4 seed and we won 14 games, but [Lindenhurst] hits the ball much harder than we do.”

The Bulls ended up in a 3-0 hole fast, with two of the runs being allowed on errors. In the top of the fourth inning, the deficit grew to 5-0 before Smithtown West started to rally.

Sophomore Keri Dufficy singled and got to second base on a sacrifice fly before stealing third. Sophomore third baseman Sarah Chapman’s bat spoke next with a drive to right field for a stand-up double that plated her team’s outfielder for the Bulls’ first run.

Third baseman Sarah Chapman throws the ball to first for an out. Photo by Bill Landon

In the bottom of the fifth with two outs, junior outfielder Kristin Horoszewski smacked the ball to right field and was able to stretch out a double. Junior second baseman and outfielder Natalie Ardizzone hit a long fly ball up center field that scored her teammate to trim Lindenhurst’s lead to three runs, 5-2.

Smithtown West’s defense helped retire the next three Lindenhurst batters before the wind picked up and the skies grew dark. A flash of lightening prompted a 30-minute delay, but as the storm picked up referees made the call to postpone the game.

“I think our pitch selection wasn’t as good as it should be — we have to be smart about that,” Miller said. “We’ve struggled with that the entire year. Hopefully we’ll finish this tomorrow, but we have to do the basics
correctly. Defensively we’ve been solid all year, but mistakes opened it up.”

Smithtown West is scheduled to retake the field Wednesday, May 16, and resume the game in the bottom of the sixth. If storms continue the game would once again be postponed to a later date.

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Wolverines face top-seeded Smithtown East in the out bracket on the road May 15 at 4 p.m.

By Bill Landon

Although the double-elimination game didn’t go as planned, Bobby Vath got by with a little help from his friends.

The first-inning showing was all visiting Connetquot needed to get past Newfield, 3-0, in the first round of baseball playoffs May 14. With a runner in scoring position a Vath pitch was drilled deep to left field for a ground-rule double and a 1-0 lead. Three pitches later, a passed ball at the plate put Connetquot ahead 2-0.

“I went back into the dugout after the top of the first, and they were right there ready to pick me up,” the senior said of his teammates. “So I was ready to go back out there in the second and fight for my team.”

Newfield was unable to answer in bottom of the inning, and unfortunately for Vath, an RBI-single gave the Thunderbirds an insurance run in the top of the second.

Newfield was able to get the bat on the ball after that, but when the Wolverines did get on base, Connetquot’s defense answered the call to keep them there.

Vath found his rhythm in the third, and despite Connetquot putting two runners on base in the top of the sixth, the senior didn’t give up a run the rest of the way. He struck out the next two batters in that inning to get out of the jam.

“He settled down after that first inning and started throwing outs, working off his fastball and had good command of the game,” Newfield head coach Eric Joyner said. “That’s just vintage Vath — he’s a great competitor.”

Newfield faces an unexpected opponent Tuesday, May 15, after top-seeded Smithtown East was upset by No. 17 Bay Shore, 7-4.

“Our approach has to be the same — come out of the gate hot, protect the baseball and throw strikes,” Joyner said. “We’ll have to execute a little better offensively tomorrow than we did today.”

Despite Newfield being the No. 8 seed, Vath said to him and his Wolverines, it doesn’t matter what seed they are, or what number they’re facing.

“We’ll definitely get the scouting reports from the other coaches who’ve played [Smithtown East], because that helped us in this game too, but their number doesn’t scare us,” Vath said. “We’ll go in there with the mentality that if the 17thseed beat the No. 1 seed, anybody can beat anyone on any given day.”

Mustangs earn No. 1 seed in Class C postseason bracket, which begins May 23 for Mount Sinai. Comsewogue claims No. 2 seed and begins B qualifier play in semis May 23.

Mount Sinai boys lacrosse team members pile up on Tyler Gatz after he scored a buzzer-beating game-winning goal for sole possession of the Division II title. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Tyler Gatz took home the Division II title for Mount Sinai.

With the Mustangs down 3-2 in the final minutes, the freshman midfielder assisted on classmate Brendon Ventarola’s game-tying shot before scoring the go-ahead goal as the buzzer sounded for a 4-3 home win over Comsewogue May 11.

Mount Sinai’s Tyler Gatz looks to get around Comsewogue’s Karl Lacalandra. Photo by Bill Landon

The game-winning play called for the ball to end up in the stick of senior JoJo Pirreca, but Gatz said he saw an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.

“The play was sideways,” the freshman said. “I saw that they over-pursued me, so I put the stick in my left hand, got top side and just let it go.”

Mount Sinai was tied with Islip at 12-1 atop the league leaderboard heading into Friday’s game. Harborfields and Comsewogue were tied for second (10-2), but the Tornadoes took down Islip earlier in the evening (13-7) to leave the Mustangs to battle it out with the Warriors for sole possession.

“Comsewogue played great defense tonight — they did a great job, so I feel fortunate that we were able to get this win,” Mount Sinai head coach Harold Drumm said. “It’s easy when you win 10-1, but [we were] playing a tough team and things [were] not going our way. Our team showed it had a lot of heart, and that’s what tells you if you have a team or not.”

Comsewogue attack Richie Lacalandra gets checked by Mount Sinai’s Matt Ventarola. Photo by Bill Landon

After a scoreless first quarter, Comsewogue senior Anthony Passarella broke the ice, and juniors Chris Wolfe and Sean Kennedy scored next to give the Warriors a 3-0 lead with 4:11 remaining until the halftime break. Known for its stout defense, Comsewogue remained solid until eighth-grader Joseph Spallina’s solo shot rocked the back of the cage to end of the quarter.

Not wanting his age to be paired with inexperience, the team’s scoring leader proved his prowess when he struck again four minutes into the third on an assist from junior Dominic Boscarino to pull his team within one, 3-2.

“When we were down 3-1 we really weren’t moving the ball,” said Spallina, who ranks seventh among all Suffolk scorers with 76 points on 34 goals and 42 assists.

The freshman said his team wanted to take it slow, thinking back to the lone loss of the season, a 10-9 defeat at the hands of Islip April 11, and wanted to redeem that loss by taking sole possession of the division crown. Comsewogue went a man-down on three separate occasions and Mount Sinai was unable to capitalize.

Mount Sinai’s Joseph Spallina drives past Comsewogue defenseman Zach Gagnon. Photo by Bill Landon

The tables turned when Spallina was flagged for an infraction and served a one-minute penalty to close out the third, and his team again went a man-down with under three minutes left in the fourth, but Comsewogue couldn’t find the net.

“We had one devastating loss against a really good team,” Spallina said of the loss to Islip. “So we were thinking, ‘Just make one stop at a time.’”

Mount Sinai gained possession with less than 40 seconds left and moved the ball around the cage to let time tick off, allowing for just one last shot before a looming overtime period, which is when Gatz made his move.

“They play hard, they’re very well-coached,” Drumm said of Comsewogue. “We know they have great athletes on the field and we knew we had to tighten up a little in the crease, and even down 3-1 we [knew we’d have] opportunities on offense. We needed to keep believing, so I just tried to stay the course.”

The Mustangs earn the No. 1 seed with the win. Mount Sinai will host the winner of Thursday’s matchup between No. 4 Shoreham-Wading River and No. 5 Sayville in the Class C semifinals May 23 at 4 p.m. Comsewogue, the No. 2 seed, will compete in the Class B semifinals , hosting the winner of the No. 3 East Islip and No. 6 Half Hollow Hills West game May 23 at 4 p.m.

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