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boys’ lacrosse

At 5 feet, 8 inches tall, goalkeeper Michael Ippoliti is not the imposing figure of a typical lacrosse player.

But in the battle for the Long Island Lacrosse Championship against Northport on Saturday, he might as well have been the 10-foot-high, Great Green Wall of Farmingdale — a wall that stood between the Tigers and their third straight Long Island title.

On one of the largest lacrosse stages in the country, Ippoliti made a ridiculous 14 saves at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium on the campus of Stony Brook University to deny Northport of this natural hat trick of championship rings as the Dalers topped the Tigers, 5-3. Northport’s mighty offense came into this match averaging 12 goals a game for the season but was stymied time and time again by Ippoliti.

Trailing 2-1 at halftime, Farmingdale scored four straight goals bridging the third and fourth quarter to take a three-goal lead. Superstar Sniper Brendan O’Keefe gave the Dalers the lead for good at 3-2 with nine and a half minutes left in the third, and Jake Norton had two goals late in the fourth to ice it. The rest of the day belonged to the Syracuse-bound Ippoliti.

“It feels great to be Long Island champions,” said Ippoliti, who transferred from St. Dominic High School in Oyster Bay for his senior season. “I was seeing the ball well today and since I’m not the biggest guy, I make up for it with my speed, hands and footwork.”

One dazzling display of footwork came at the end of the second quarter when Northport’s leading scorer, sophomore Jack Deliberti, ripped a shot from 20 yards away that Ippoliti turned away with his right shin. The rebound caromed back to Deliberti and from a sharper angle and 10 yards closer, he burned in another low laser.

But Ippoliti scampered laterally across his crease to kick it away seconds before the horn sounded to end the half. These two saves kept the Tiger lead at one.

Later on in the game, Ippoliti’s quick hands got the better of Northport’s junior attacker Luca Elmaleh, who had seven goals in the three previous playoff games for the Tigers.

With the score knotted at two to start the fourth quarter, Elmaleh was able to turn the corner on All-American Farmingdale defender Trevor Gayron and flash right in front of the net with only Ippoliti in his way. Elmaleh tried to go up high, but the Daler keeper was able to get his stick and shoulder in the way of Elmaleh’s shot — which was from no more than three feet away. O’Keefe would give Farmingdale the lead two minutes later — a lead they would never surrender.

“I wish I threw maybe another fake in there,” said Elmaleh, who had four shots on goal for the game. “But I can’t go back in time. As a team, we have to move forward, practice harder and try again next year.”
Tiger Longstick Midfielder and two-time All American Andrew Miller, who put on a Tiger uniform for the final time in his illustrious high school career, will not have the luxury of another try next year. A two-time Long Island Champion in lacrosse, Suffolk champion in basketball and one of the finest athletes ever to grace the halls of Northport High School will be at pre-med at West Point in the fall. He scored two goals in this game for the Tigers, and he had previous experience watching Ippoliti play.

“We played club lacrosse together and he is very talented,” Miller, who scored two of the three Tiger goals, said of Ippoliti. “It wasn’t him alone though. His defense played well too, and they just outplayed us overall.”
Ippoliti didn’t forget about his supporting cast either.

“My defensemen played incredibly well today, and I couldn’t have done it without them,” said Ippoliti. “I have to make the saves but it’s those guys executing the game plan that puts us all in a position to win.”
This was the first Long Island title for the proud Farmingdale Lacrosse program since 2011. They won the New York State Title that year as well. They will travel to Albany to play Scarsdale in the New York State semi-final and if they win that one, they will come back to the island next weekend to play at Hofstra for the state crown.

Larry Cerasi, who in his third year as Tiger head coach was bidding for his third straight Long Island Championship, coached Northport in that Hofstra title game last year and lost to upstate Baldwinsville. Despite not earning an invitation to Albany this year, he still feels the 2023 season was a success.
“We lost a lot of firepower from last year and we still went a long way,” said Cerasi. “Winning Suffolk County and getting to the Long Island Championship game is an incredible achievement and it sets us up nicely for next year.”

As Michael Ippoliti will be in Syracuse by then, Cerasi and his guys, if they are lucky enough to be in this position again, may need not run through a wall to win it.

Shoreham-Wading River’s journey to the Long Island Championship was an uphill climb. The Wildcats suffered four early losses in the regular season, but with a strong finish, they earned the third seed entering postseason play.

SWR triumphed over Bayport-Blue Point, the second seed, to reach the county final, then defeated the unbeaten Mount Sinai Mustangs for the Suffolk Class C title.

Enter Manhasset, the 17-1 Nassau County Class C champion. At Stony Brook University Saturday morning, June 3, the Wildcats had momentum through three quarters of play but faltered in the fourth, ending their season with an 11-6 loss.

The Gregorek brothers kept the flame alive for SWR, with junior Liam scoring three goals in the opening quarter and senior Alec scoring twice in the matchup. Senior attack Steven Cain stretched the net to round out the scoring for the Wildcats as goalie Jaden Galfano — who had a stellar season between the pipes — ended with 14 saves in the game, eclipsing 500 varsity career saves as just a junior.

Alec Gregorek concluded his varsity career tied with teammate Liam Kershis in fourth place in Suffolk County’s scoring leaderboard with 70 goals and 27 assists. Kershis, a junior, notched 59 goals along with 38 assists. Galfano concluded the Wildcats 2023 campaign with 200 saves, ranking him fourth in the county.

— Photos by Bill Landon

The Ward Melville Patriots hosted the Northport Tigers in the semi-final round and managed to stay within striking distance through the first two quarters of play, looking to avenge their one-point loss to the Tigers earlier in the season, but faltered in the second half.

Northport freshman Luke Loiacono with a dominant performance beyond his years, topped the scoring chart for the Tigers with five goals along with an assist with teammate Luca Elmaleh’s three goals proved too much for the Patriots slamming the door for the 13-4 victory, Wednesday afternoon May 24.

Northport senior goalie Mike Tittman had 12 saves on the day.

Ward Melville rattled off four unanswered goals before the Longwood Lions found the net in the final minutes of the second quarter in the Suffolk Division I quarterfinals on a wet Saturday afternoon. The Patriots held Longwood to a single goal the rest of the way as they cruised to a 10-2 victory punching their ticket to the semi-final round.

Seniors Nik Barbero and Andrew Belli both scored twice as did Brody Morgan. Filling out the scoreboard were teammates Jaron Popp, Aidan Valeiko, Stephen Rosano and Madden Murphy, who each found the back of the net. Goalie Charlie Giachetti had 10 saves on the day.

The win lifted the Patriots to 13-4 who faced Northport, the No.3 seed, at home Wednesday May 24. Results were not available at press time.

Port Jeff had its hands full when the 11-2 Hauppauge boys lacrosse team came knocking. In the Royals’ final game of the season, they fell to the Eagles 11-6 Saturday morning, May 13.

Freshman Rowan Casey notched three goals. Ryan Filippi and Patrick Johnson scored, and senior Jonah Pflaster also stretched the net in the Div. II matchup. Freshman goalie Owen Whiffen had a busy day in net with 17 saves.

The Royals conclude their 2023 campaign with wins against Bellport, North Babylon and Deer Park.

— Photos by Bill Landon

The Bulls of Smithtown East, at 8-3, hosted William Floyd, at 5-6, in a Division I matchup opened the second half with a five-goal advantage, but the Colonials scored twice to open the third quarter while holding Smithtown East scoreless. 

Both teams traded goals in the final 12 minutes of play, but the Bulls kept their visitors at bay to win the game, 11-8, on Saturday, May 6. 

Sophomore Luke DiMaria led the way for the Bulls with a goal and five assists. Senior Ryan Rooney had four goals on the day, and Cameron James stretched the net three times. Brendan Carroll had 12 stops between the pipes. 

The win lifts Smithtown East to 9-3 in their division with two games remaining before post season play begins. 

Royals notch first win over Bellport

Eager to pick up their first win of this early season, the Port Jefferson Royals did just that, winning 11-5 in a Div. II road game against Bellport on Thursday afternoon, April 20. 

The team’s young talent made its mark. Sophomore Ryan Filippi led the way for the Royals with four goals and three assists. Teammate Rowan Casey, a freshman, scored three goals and had two assists. Sophomore Patrick Johnston had three assists and scored. 

Senior Matthew Buonomo scored twice with an assist, and Jonah Pflaster also found the net. Port Jeff’s freshman goalie Owen Whiffen had 12 saves in net.

The Royals will look to make it two in a row with another road game on Monday, April 24, when they face Sayville (3-4) at 5:00 p.m.

— Photos by Bill Landon

The Wildcats of Shoreham-Wading River, at 5-0, took on the 3-1 Comsewogue Warriors at Thomas Cutinella Memorial Field on April 19 in what’s always been a bitter Div. II rivalry.

Shoreham-Wading River struck first with a pair of goals in the opening quarter, but the Warriors rattled off five unanswered goals to surge ahead 5-2 before the Wildcats could counter. Liam Kershis’ stick retied the game at 5-all as both teams traded goals before the halftime break. 

Comsewogue attack Brayden Arias split the pipes to put his team out front 8-7 with four minutes left in the third quarter. Kershis then struck again with nine minutes left, retaking the lead 9-8 before teammates Ryan Wilson split the uprights and Alec Gregorek scored his fourth goal of the game as insurance goals. 

Kershis found the net again with less than two minutes, putting his team out front 12-9 for the final score.

— Photos by Bill Landon

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The Patriots of Ward Melville were behind by four goals to open the fourth quarter of play in a home game against Garden City on a rainy Saturday afternoon when the Patriots exploded with five goals in the final minutes of play to tie the game at 7-all, forcing overtime play.  

The game’s outcome wasn’t settled in the first overtime period or the second. The third OT period expired with no winner when Garden City scored the game-winner of the fourth overtime period to win the non-league contest, 8-7. 

Ward Melville seniors AJ Folkman and Nik Barbero each scored along with one assist. Seniors Andrew Belli, Trevor Murray and Jaron Popp each scored, as did juniors Brody Morgan and Stephen Rosano. 

The loss drops the Patriots to 2-2 in this early season and will retake the field Tuesday with an away game against Bay Shore before returning home April 12 to host Sachem North. Game time is slated for 4:15 p.m.

Wildcats tame Lions, 18-4

It was wind-driven rain that soaked Thomas Cutinella Memorial Field Saturday morning, April 1, but the weather didn’t hamper Shoreham-Wading River’s surge toward the cage, where the Wildcats dispatched the Lions of West Islip 18-4.

Senior Alec Gregorek topped the scoring chart for the Wildcats with eight goals and two assists, and teammate Liam Kershis stretched the net six times along with an assist. Steven Cain, a senior, also found the back of the cage along with four assists. And Jaden Galfano had 10 stops in net in this Div. II lacrosse matchup.

The win lifts Shoreham-Wading River to 2-0, having defeated Harborfields in the season opener. The cats will retake the field Wednesday, April 5, with another home game against Kings Park. Gametime is slated for 3:30 p.m.

— Photos by Bill Landon