The bond between seniors Danny Bullis and Dan Keenan spans nearly eight years, and the connection between the attackmen was evident on the field Monday as the two connected for half of the No. 3-ranked Mount Sinai boys’ lacrosse team’s goals in a 6-4 victory over No. 6 Islip in the first round of the Division I Class A playoffs Monday.
“We practice together all of the time … and there’s a good connection there,” Bullis said. “I always know where he is on the field so I tend to feed the ball to him.”
With the game tied 1-1 to the start of the second quarter, the team’s leading scorers connected for their first goal of the evening.
Less than two minutes in, sophomore Nick Cesario scooped up a turnover in the Mustangs’ zone and carried it all the way down the field before passing it to Bullis. Milliseconds after receiving the pass, Bullis dished the ball outside to the left of the goal to Keenan, who whipped it in past the goalkeeper to break the tie.
Senior Tony DiMonti scored next from 30 yards out off an assist from senior Jason Vengilio, and senior goalkeeper Charlie Faughnan made two big stops — one while the team was a man down — to preserve the 3-1 advantage heading into the halftime break.
“Playoffs are playoffs and every game is going to be a battle,” Mount Sinai head coach Harold Drumm said. “Islip is an excellent team, and we’re just really proud of the kids. They worked really hard.”
Bullis tallied the first goal of the third stanza off an assist by junior Griffin McGrath, and after Islip scored the next goal of the game to cut the lead in half, Keenan found the back of the net off another pass from Bullis to give Mount Sinai a 5-2 lead.
Islip refused to go down quietly and kept pushing for a goal. The team got an open look at the net, but couldn’t capitalize and made one final attempt with nine seconds left in the quarter, but Faughnan came through with another save.
“Charlie’s been playing outstanding,” Drumm said of his goalkeeper, who finished the game with seven saves. “Charlie saves us and bails us out a lot. Our defense does a great job, but Charlie is the backbone of that and he makes some saves that I just have to thank him after the game for.”
Islip squeezed a goal past Faughnan with 8:55 left to play, and just over a minute later, Bullis and Keenan connected for a final time, for Kennan’s hat trick goal.
“Dan Keenan, when he shoots overhand, he has one of the best shots in the league, without question, and Danny Bullis is an excellent lacrosse player,” Drumm said. “[Bullis] can feed, shoot, dodge, he does a great job. He looks for anybody that’s open. They work in practice together all the time and they work well together, so it’s a nice matchup.”
Islip scored once more two minutes later and threatened late in the game, but Mount Sinai’s defense shut down any Islip opportunities and the offense continued to pass the ball around the outside to eat some time off the clock and preserve the win.
“It was a good team win,” Bullis said. “Our defense was really solid, and goalkeeping, and offensively we moved the ball well. [In the second quarter] we just started making better choices on offense like possessing the ball; moving the ball, and it just started to click.”
Mount Sinai extended an 11-game win streak into the postseason, and will have another home game Thursday, where the team will host No. 7 Eastport-South Manor at 4 p.m.
“We had an excellent regular-season for us and we’re real proud of the guys, but none of that really matters at this point,” Drumm said. “What matter is now and we won the game today and moving into [today] we play Eastport-South Manor … and we’re prepared. We’ll go into that game knowing it’s going to be a game liked this — a battle — and just try to win every play and hopefully come out with a ‘W.’”
This version corrects the spelling of Tony DiMonti’s name.