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P.J. Clementi

By Bill Landon

Garden City’s five unanswered goals to open the Long Island championship game against Harborfields were hard to counter. The Tornadoes closed within three early in the third quarter but fell 12-3 in the Class B title game at Hofstra University June 2.

“They went from being 4-3 to taking it to Garden City for the Long Island championship,” head coach Glenn Lavey said. “They won’t get perspective right now [because] it’s hard to realize that a couple of minutes after you lose a tough game, but they will eventually realize all the special things they did.”

Freshman attack Stephen Markowski scored Harborfields’ first goal with four minutes remaining in the first half, and senior midfielder Jimmy Bifulco brought the score to 5-2 at the 10:51 mark of the third quarter, but it was as close as the team would come.

The Tornadoes were swept away after Garden City score six unanswered goals from the end of the third to the beginning of the fourth.

Junior Aiden Costello caught a pass from senior midfielder P.J. Clementi for Harborfields’ final goal of the game with three minutes remaining.

“[Garden City] has great players and great coaches,” Lavey said .”But at least you can say that today, we lost to a better team.”

Harborfields ends the season with a 13-4 record, outscoring opponents 192-118, and brought home the school’s first Suffolk County championship since 1992. Clementi, who will play for Amherst College next spring, ranks fifth among Suffolk County’s leading scorers with 57 goals 40 assists for a total of 97 points.

Also continuing their lacrosse careers are Bifulco, who committed to Adelphi University; Andy Derasmo, who will compete for St. Joseph’s University; and Mike Pasquaretta, who signed to play for Assumption College. Midfielder Tommy DeVito will remain teammates with long-stick midfielder Lucas Kollmer — both will compete at SUNY Geneseo.

By Bill Landon

P.J. Clementi couldn’t believe his eyes. Racing between two defenders for a loose ball just out of reach on the left side of the cage, along came Andy Derasmo, who was rounding behind it. Derasmo flicked the ball to Clementi, who caught it on its third bounce as he crouched and swiveled to his right. He scored on a no-look shot around the defender to his left while falling to the floor.

It was the final goal of the game with five minutes left, and put it out of reach in No. 1-seeded Harborfields boys lacrosse team’s 8-4 win over No. 3 East Islip in the Class B county championship.

“It rolled right to me, and I was just thinking, ‘No way,’” Clementi said. “So I scooped it up. I knew where the net was and I just flung it. Then, I saw the net move.”

His three goal, two assist afternoon helped Harborfields to its first county crown since 1992.

The Tornadoes (14-3) will face Garden City (15-3) in the Long Island championship at 3 p.m. Saturday, June 2 at Hofstra University.

Head coach Glenn Lavey said the boys, besides wanting the win for themselves, took extra pride in bringing home the title to all three of the team’s assistant coaches, who were on the last championship-winning team 26 years ago.

“We’ve been waiting for so long, so for those kids on the team and for all the guys that have played, this team really brought everybody together,” Lavey said. “It means a lot. I love these guys and in this town — everybody shares in this win.”

The Tornadoes also relished showing off the many weapons in Harborfields’ arsenal.

Clementi, who started the scoring for his team with a goal after a dodge to tie the game 1-1 in the early going, dished the ball to Derasmo to give the team a 2-1 lead. Harborfields never trailed after that, but didn’t pull away until the fourth quarter. East Islip tied the game 4-4 midway through the third.

Jimmy Bifulco, Stephen Markowski, Aiden Costello and M.J. Buckholtz also scored.

Goalkeeper Zack Yorio (17 saves) did his part to keep the game close early. He made a high stop in the final seconds of the first half to preserve Harborfields’ 3-2 lead, and robbed Sidorski of a goal in the game’s final seconds. The East Islip threat ranks third in Suffolk with 102 points and tops in assists with 57 and was held without a point.

“When they tied it [4-4] we just kept our foot on the gas pedal,” Clementi said. “We kept pounding. We tried to convert in transition, but we had some luck on our side, too.”

Bifulco said his senior season’s crowning achievement was something years in the works.

“I’ve been dreaming about this since I was little,” he said. “I’ve played with these kids my entire life — it’s just a dream come true. It’s all I ever wanted for us.”

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.

By Bill Landon

Harborfields settled the score Saturday as the Tornadoes invaded Rocky Point and avenged last year’s homecoming loss by outscoring the Eagles 20-13 during a homecoming celebration of their own. Rocky Point senior Petey LaSalla bulled his way up the field for two touchdowns to help tie Harborfields with eight minutes left in the game, but a Tornadoes touchdown and stop sealed the Eagles’ fate Sept. 16.

“The juniors on last year’s team remember that loss,” Harborfields head coach Rocco Colucci said. “I mean, hats off to Rocky Point, they’re a great football team and with good teams it usually does go down to the last minute, but what better way than to [come here] and return the favor at their homecoming game.”

Harborfields dominated the time of possession in the opening half, but the Eagles’ defense held the team to just one touchdown after senior quarterback P.J. Clementi found a hole into the end zone at the 10:58 mark of the second quarter. With a failed point-after attempt, the team took a 6-0 lead into the break.

“Our defense [played well] in the first half to hold them to just six points when they had possession like 90 percent of the time,” LaSalla said. “We lost a close one last week and this obviously sucks going 0-2, but we have power points [given to teams that face top-ranked opponents] and we have a big game next week at Comsewogue, which is their homecoming, and hopefully we can do to them what Harborfields did to us.”

The Eagles opened the second half by marching the ball down to a fourth-and-one, but Harborfields’ defense plugged the hole and took over on downs. The Tornadoes used the possession to strike with just two minutes left in the quarter. Clementi took another keeper across the goal line, and Harborfields senior Ethan Krauss split the uprights this time to put his team ahead 13-0.

“Our offensive and defensive lines were unreal today — they were making holes, they were clogging holes,” Clementi said. “To have those big guys up front, it’s a blessing, but I knew [Rocky Point was] going to try to get [Petey LaSalla] the ball. because he’s their playmaker.”

The Eagles’ offense opened the final quarter with a new look, putting LaSalla in shotgun formation. The running back plowed up the field until he crossed into the end zone for Rocky Point’s first touchdown of the day. Senior Jack Costa nailed the extra-point kick attempt to pull within six, 13-7. LaSalla scored again, but a missed kick blew Rocky Point’s chance at taking its first lead of the game.

With the score tied 13-13, Clementi hit senior wide receiver Chris Dluginsky bolting down the left sideline 56 yards to Rocky Point’s 22-yard line. Senior running back Jimmy Bifulco finished the job with the final touchdown of the game for the 20-13 win.

“I know they’re a great team, well-coached, but we came out here and we played our best,” Bifulco said. “We’re a family, we stick together the entire way and when it comes down to the last minute, we’ll finish it.”

Harborfields did just that, holding off Rocky Point on its final attempt deep in Harbrofields’ territory with 14 seconds left until the time expired.

“I was sitting on the sideline and and I couldn’t watch,” Clementi said. “I walked back to the track and turned around. I was just waiting for that [last] play to be over.”

Rocky Point head coach Anthony DiLorenzo said he wishes he’d have taken a timeout when a first down was signaled following Rocky Point’s first possession of the second half.

“Unfortunately, at the end of the game, that came back to bite us,” he said. “We came up short on the two-yard line.”

Colucci said he couldn’t be more proud of his players, especially despite not being at full strength.

“This was the ultimate team win,” he said. “Even at halftime people were looking at each other and saying ‘we still got this.’ I have a couple of guys who weren’t feeling well and I told them ‘don’t play for yourself, play for the guy next to you because next time they’re going to do it for you,’ and that’s going to win us some close games.”

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