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Pete Mitchell

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Sean Kennedy, Richie Lacalandra score three goals each to knot the game at 7-7

A Warriors run from the end of the second quarter to the middle of the fourth turned a 6-1 deficit into a 7-7 tie, but a final faceoff loss proved costly for the No. 3-seeded Comsewogue boys lacrosse team, as it fell 8-7 to No. 3 East Islip in the Class B semifinals May 23.

“I think the team was just a little nervous at first because of how big of a game it was,” said junior Sean Kennedy, who scored three goals in the contest. “Because usually we’re a really good first-half team.”

The Warriors defense struggled to clear the ball early, going 0-5 on first-half attempts, with the Redmen scoring on three of those turnovers.

But by the end of the second quarter Comsewogue started to figure it out.

“I felt good to be out there — we were chipping away at the score. If we didn’t come out slow at first I think there would’ve been a different outcome.”

— Richie Lacalandra

“Once we settled down and we figured out the clear, we came storming back,” Comsewogue head coach Pete Mitchell said. “A lot of these kids have been through a lot of hard things in their lives and to see them come out and compete the way they did is tremendous. Especially the seniors, they’re a wonderful group of kids.”

Senior Richie Lacalandra scored the final goal of the first half to break East Islip’s six goal scoring streak and start a 4-0 Warriors scoring spurt. Junior Thomas Heyder scored on an over-the-shoulder and behind-the-back shot to start the second half, and Kennedy found the cage before Lacalandra’s goal that pulled the Warriors within one, 6-5, to end scoring for the third.

After an East Islip goal, Kennedy scored from 30 yards out for his third of the game, and Lacalandra added his hat trick goal from the same spot to tie it 7-7 with 7:10 left to play.

“On that play I just thought to myself, ‘I had the short stick on me, and there was a lane to shoot,’ so I stepped in and let it go,” Lacalandra said. “It felt good to be out there — we were chipping away at the score. If we didn’t come out slow at first I think there would’ve been a different outcome.”

Goalkeeper Thomas Heller said a halftime pep talk lifted his team’s spirits. He added he spoke to his defense about shaking off the nerves and looking at the second half like a new game. The junior said Kennedy and Lacalandra’s burst of power propelled the team.

“I think for my team to come back and score six goals shows a lot of heart and hustle, It shows we fight to the end.”

— Thomas Heller

“Those two kids never quit on themselves,” he said. “And in big situations, they excel.”

The goalkeeper made two saves within a minute to keep the teams in a stalemate, but East Islip did the same on the other end.

“I was seeing the ball well and my defense was giving me good looks,” Heller said. “Our plan against East Islip was to keep our heads on a swivel, stop transitions and keep our sticks in the passing lane, because we knew they liked to feed the cutter, so we tried to eliminate that as much as possible.”

John Sidorski scored his fourth goal of the game with 47 seconds left for East Islip, which won the final faceoff. Comsewogue called timeout and pulled Heller for another man on the field to pressure the Redmen, but came up short, getting the ball back and into East Islip’s zone just as time expired.

“I think for my team to come back and score six goals shows a lot of heart and hustle,” Heller said. “It shows we fight to the end.”

Mitchell said he was proud to say that no matter how many curveballs were thrown at his team, and through all the doubt this season, his Warriors showed why they bear the name.

“You get bad bounces in life, you’ve got to deal with it and you’ve got to bounce back — and if I taught them that one thing then I’ve done my job,” Mitchell said. “We had a shot at the end, but their goalie made a great save. It shows a lot of character, and it’s why we call ourselves the Warriors – we never give up.”

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By Bill Landon

Despite leading by three goals entering the fourth quarter — giving the No. 2-seeded Eastport-South Manor boys’ lacrosse team a run for its money — No. 6 Comsewogue was outscored 6-1 in the final 12 minutes, to fall 10-8 in the Suffolk County Class B semifinals May 26.

It wasn’t an easy road for the Warriors, which made the postseason with a 6-8 record in league play, and got in because of power points earned against top-seeded teams, according to athletic director Matt DeVincenzo. But Comsewogue showed resiliency, and knocked off No. 3 Harborfields with a 6-5 win May 18, and continued to battle through the bracket Friday.

Sophomore Sean Kennedy got things going for the Warriors when he spotted Nick Donnelly jumping out front from behind the cage, and flicked the ball to the junior, who buried his shot. But the Sharks answered back quickly. Kennedy found senior Ryan Dorney on the cut minutes later, but again Eastport-South Manor had an answer.

Sophomore Tom Heller — making 11 saves on the day — had his hand full protecting the net, and prevented several shots from passing him by to keep the score tied heading into the second quarter.

Senior Will Snelders ripped a shot from 35 feet out to put his team out front, and junior Richie Lacalandra scored off a feed from Dorney to extend the lead. The Warriors kept attacking, and Snelders sent a pass to junior Sean Power, who was able to redirect the ball to the back of the cage off a flick pass for a 5-2 advantage with 7:51 left in the first half.

Twenty seconds later, the Sharks’ Brandon Stiles sent a shot just inside the pipes, but the Warriors stymied any attempt at a comeback, as Lacalandra and Snelders scored unassisted goals to put Comsewogue up 7-3 with two minutes left.

“Everybody doubted us all year,” Comsewogue head coach Pete Mitchell said. “We didn’t get a lot of accolades — we’re just a group of blue collar kids — and I’m proud of them.”

Eastport-South Manor’s Ryan Weiss scored with 31 seconds on the clock to cut the deficit to three goals by the break. And after discussing with their coaches, two different teams entered play in the third quarter, as the defenses battled to a stalemate.

Things changed drastically in the fourth, and Eastport-South Manor’s Tom Szalkowski ended the scoring drought in the opening minutes, and teammate James Sherwood split the pipes 20 seconds later to pull within one goal, 7-6.

Kennedy found Donnelly again on a cut across the cage for an insurance goal, but the Sharks wiped it away by tallying four unanswered goals off faceoff wins.

“The faceoff ‘X’ was bad in the fourth quarter — we made a couple of mistakes clearing the ball,” Mitchell said. The head coach put the blame on himself for the outcome.

“That’s on me,” he said. “As the coach, to not make an adjustment on the faceoff when I could have — I take that one because I need to put them in the best position to succeed.”

Mitchell, whose team finishes its season at 7-9 overall, continued to convey pride for a team that accomplished what it did, extending its postseason and battling to some close games this season, like 7-6, 9-8 and 11-10 losses to No. 4 Mount Sinai, No. 3 Miller Place and No. 1 Shoreham-Wading River, respectively.

“They’ve worked hard,” Mitchell said. “And they’re going to be successful in whatever they do in life because of how hard they worked and the lessons they’ve learned [playing] Comsewogue lacrosse.”

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John Koebel cuts to the crease. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

The Comsewogue boys’ lacrosse team led by three goals to open the third quarter, but undefeated Bayport-Blue Point came back to win, 9-8, on Friday night with a shot with 11 seconds left on the clock.

Trevor Kennedy scores to the top right corner past a reaching goalkeeper. Photo by Bill Landon
Trevor Kennedy scores to the top right corner past a reaching goalkeeper. Photo by Bill Landon

“Tonight’s atmosphere was awesome and that’s what lacrosse is supposed to be and I thought we played well,” Comsewogue head coach Pete Mitchell said, adding that he was proud of his team for hanging with an opponent of Bayport’s caliber. “I thought we played well enough to win, but the kids played hard and I’m proud of their efforts tonight.”

The Warriors wasted no time getting the game going when midfielder Matthew Spahr, a University at Albany-bound senior, found the back of the cage just eight seconds into the contest, for the early lead.

Bayport-Blue Point answered back three minutes later to tie the game, but Comsewogue senior midfielder Trevor Kennedy’s shot found the cage to help his team edge ahead 2-1 at the 8:46 mark. The Phantoms scored next with four minutes left in the opening quarter, as Comsewogue drew a penalty and went a man down. Tied 2-2, Bayport-Blue Point looked to capitalize with the extra player, but Comsewogue’s defense stood its ground.

With seven seconds left, Kennedy, who will play for Assumption College next spring, struck again to put his team out front 3-2 to open the second stanza. Bayport barked back by firing two quick goals to edge ahead 4-3 and take the lead for the first time, but the Warriors were quick to respond when midfielder John Koebel, an Endicott College-bound senior, split the pipes to make it a new game, 4-4.

Richie Lacalandra snaps a shot between two Bayport-Blue Point defenders for the score. Photo by Bill Landon
Richie Lacalandra snaps a shot between two Bayport-Blue Point defenders for the score. Photo by Bill Landon

“I thought we started out hot, but I knew they were going to come back — they’re a second half team,” Kennedy said. “I knew that they would come out to play in the second half.”

Comsewogue rattled off the next three goals, with sophomore attack Richie Lacalandra, junior midfielder and attack Ryan Dorney and junior attack Will Snelders aiding the team in going up 7-4 to open the third quarter, but the Phantoms found a way to come back.

Comsewogue played keep away until the team turned the ball over, and  Bayport made them pay for it. Despite being a man down themselves now, the team made four quick passes for a score that cut the deficit. With 34 seconds left in the third, Comsewogue’s opponent struck again as the Warriors struggled to stop the onslaught.

With 10 minutes left, Comsewogue received a penalty, and committed another soon after, to go down two men. And the Phantoms cashed in. Bayport, at 12-0 on the season, proved why it’s gone undefeated for a reason, and rattled off two more goals for an 8-7 lead with seven minutes left in regulation.

Kevin Tiedemann dives for a loose ball. Photo by Bill Landon
Kevin Tiedemann dives for a loose ball. Photo by Bill Landon

Kennedy’s stick spoke once more when his shot found the net for his hat trick goal to deadlock the game with little time remaining. Overtime seemed likely, but on the ensuing faceoff, the Phantoms made three quick flips and fired at the Comsewogue cage. The shot found its mark and Bayport edged ahead to retake the lead, 9-8, with 11 showing on the scoreboard clock. Comsewogue won the final faceoff and with precious seconds left, failed to find a clear lane to the cage.

“We did some things that are uncharacteristic of what we do,” Mitchell said. “We lacked discipline by not taking a last shot in the final seconds.”

The loss drops the Warriors to 9-3 in Division II with two games remaining before the playoffs.

“They played a good game,” Mitchell said of Bayport. “And I hope to see them again.”

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