By Bill Landon
The Middle Country boys’ lacrosse team scored four quick goals in less than three minutes and continued to fire off shots and find the back of the cage to claim an 8-5 victory over East Islip, Saturday.
Less than a minute into the game, junior midfielder Kyle Stemke scored first for the Mad Dogs, and senior midfielder Brandon Thomas followed with a goal of his own a minute later to jump out to a 2-0 lead.
“We played a solid team with a solid defense today who have a lot of offensive power,” Stemke said, as his team made eight of its 21 attempts at a goal. “We made some goals when we had to and we were able to shut them down defensively at the end.”
Middle Country head coach Kenneth Budd said his team has struggled at the faceoff position lately, but that wasn’t the case for the Mad Dogs in this matchup.
Junior midfielder Declan Canevari won his third possession of the game and dished the ball to senior attack Bobby Emerson, and Canevari followed with his fourth faceoff win, and took the ball down the right sideline, cut to the inside and buried his shot between the pipes to give Middle Country a four-goal advantage.
Budd said his faceoff specialist was the difference-maker in the contest.
“Declan was phenomenal at the ‘X’ today,” Budd said. “When you control ‘X’ you get possession, and that’s how you win games.”
Middle Country senior attack Zach Harned assisted in his team’s first goal of the second quarter when he fed the ball to junior midfielder Cole Demaille, who found the back of the cage. Stemke crossed the ball over to Emerson next, who sent home his second goal of the game to take a commanding 6-0 lead.
“We knew their goalie was good, but we came out firing and we were really amped when we went up 6-0,” Harned said. “We came out clean, we maintained possession and we played hard.”
East Islip wouldn’t go quietly though, and rattled off three unanswered goals in less than three minutes late in the half, to keep Middle Country’s defense on its toes.
Harned halted the Redmen’s scoring spree, and blasted a shot to the back of the cage to bring the halftime score to 7-3.
East Islip found the cage late in the third to trim the deficit to three, and Middle Country failed to find the cage until halfway through the final quarter when Stemke moved down the right sideline, crossed to midfield and scored his second goal of the game to double East Islip’s score to lead 8-4.
East Islip tallied one more goal with three minutes left to play, and despite Middle Country being a man down off a penalty with 2:45 left to play, the Mad Dogs defense stood its ground.
“We stepped it up on offense and then our goalie made a big defensive stop at the end of the game,” Emerson saidå.
With the nonleague win, Middle Country ended its five-game losing streak and improved to 3-5 overall, while maintaining a 2-4 League I record.
The Mad Dogs will host Lindenhurst next, on Wednesday, at 7 p.m., where the team looks to continue its success to move up in the league ranking.
“The key to the game was us getting out to a 4-0 lead in the first quarter,” Canevari said. “Even though they came back, we gave ourselves a sizable margin that we could work with. I just focused on getting possession at the X; we haven’t been doing that lately — to get possession, get the ball to our attacker’s sticks to win the game.”