By Bill Landon
Fresh off its Suffolk County title victory three days earlier, the Smithtown East boys’ lacrosse team had the upper hand on Syosset, leading 8-7 after two quarters of play at Lavalle Stadium at Stony Brook University Saturday afternoon, but failed to tally another goal thereafter, falling in the Long Island Championship Class A matchup, 14-8.
“We struggled with simple exchanges; we threw the ball away,” Smithtown East head coach Jason Lambert said. “If you make too many turnovers against a good team like this at this point of the season, it’s going to bite you. And we got bit today, big time.”
Smithtown East struck first when senior attack and co-captain Brian Willetts fed junior attack Dan Rooney for the score, and senior midfielder and co-captain John Daniggelis found the cage unassisted a minute later, to put the Bulls out front, 2-0.
Syosset responded, but Daniggelis answered right back unassisted, to help his team edge ahead 3-1.
In the final minute of the quarter, Syosset scored two quick goals to tie the game heading into the second stanza, but Smithtown East lit up the scoreboard with four unanswered goals just midway through the 12-minute span before the halftime break, all of which were unassisted.
Willetts scored twice, Daniggelis split the pipes for his hat trick goal, and sophomore midfielder Connor Desimone drove one home to break out to a 7-3 lead.
Syosset fired back with a quick score seconds after the fourth goal, and stretched the net again two minute later to close the gap.
Looking to clear the ball, Smithtown East senior goalkeeper Sean Turner looked to clear the ball, only to have it picked off. With no defender in the vicinity, he immediately paid the price for his error, as Syosset scored to trail by one, 7-6, at the five-minute mark.
With 3:49 left in the half, Desimone found the back of the net, but that concluded the scoring for Smithtown East in the game. Syosset scored once more before the break, and the Bulls took an 8-7 lead into the third.
The Bulls weren’t firing on all cylinders in the second half, and began to miscue, loosing control at the faceoff and struggling with passing — allowing seven unanswered goals along the away.
“We struggled with lack of possession and when we did get it we had far too many turnovers,” Lambert said of his team’s play in the second half. “They beat us to ground balls today, they had actual possessions and they killed us in transition. The two things that we said we couldn’t do today was turn the ball over and loose in transition, and we did both.”
The Bulls concluded their season with an 11-0 record in Division I in the regular season, and followed with four Class A playoff wins, the last, an 11-10 win over Ward Melville in double overtime for the Suffolk County title. This is the second year in a row that Smithtown East came up short in the Long Island Championship title game.