Smithtown West bounced back from a tough loss to Northport with a 9-7 win over Bay Shore Tuesday.
With one game left in the regular season — a tough matchup against Division I leader West Islip — the boys’ lacrosse team has lost just four games this season, all of them one-goal games. The Bulls’ defense had a target to keep all opponents under five goals this season, and came close with 10 of its 15 competitors scoring six or fewer.
“We’ve been playing some big games lately,” said junior attack Jimmy Caddigan, who tallied a hat trick and two assists in the win over Bay Shore. “I think today we got back on track a little bit. Our defense has been playing great all year. We had some man downs that they played big on.”
Smithtown West senior attack Danny Caroussos got his team on the board first to open the game, and although Bay Shore tied it up, sophomore attack and midfielder Kyle Zawadzki scored with 15.9 seconds left in the first quarter to give his team the advantage.
Being a man down, Bay Shore was able to capitalize on the Bulls’ yellow card to again even the score. But that would be the last time the Marauders would come that close.
“Overall I though we could’ve played better — definitely not up to our potential, but coming off a loss it’s great to get back in the win column and get some momentum going into our last game of the year against a very good West Islip team coming in, especially on senior night,” Caroussos said of the May 12 game, which kicks off at 5 p.m.
Caddigan assisted on Zawadzki’s final goal of the evening, and Caroussos assisted on Caddigan’s first when he passed to the sophomore, who swiveled around the cage from the left side and scored for the 4-2 advantage.
The Bulls led by four goals twice. First, when Caddigan whipped the ball into the netting from two yards out with 30.5 seconds left in the first half, and second, when his younger brother Matt Caddigan found the net off an assist from John Hoffman.
Right before that goal that gave Smithtown West an 8-4 lead, senior midfielder Danny Varello, who won 17 of 19 faceoffs, won the draw and raced into Bay Shore’s zone, rocketing a shot in, in a play that lasted just several seconds.
Despite the showing, Smithtown West head coach Bobby Moltisanti Jr. said his team has some more work to do.
“It was a gritty win,” he said. “I felt we were inefficient on offense. There was an opportunity throughout the game where we could’ve pulled away, but we didn’t. I feel like we can play better, and the boys know they can play better. But I give the boys credit. They fought.”
His athletes agreed, but still think they have what it takes to go far.
“I think this team can beat anyone,” Jimmy Caddigan said. “We’re getting over that hump of finishing the regular-season games and we’re looking forward to the playoffs.”
Although playoffs are looming in the near future, the Bulls are looking to take it one game at a time, with the immediate focus being on their senior night game.
“They’re No. 1 right now, we have a big rivalry between us and them,” Jimmy Caddigan said of West Islip. “We play them every year and we want one more big win.”
Zawadzki said the teams needs to clean up before heading into the next matchup, but added that the win over Bay Shore was important.
“This gives us confidence going into next week and we’ll just keep it rolling,” he said.
Smithtown West was a mixed bag this season, with strong senior leadership but some big contributing underclassmen. Although plenty of strong players will be left no matter what happens this postseason, for seniors like Caroussos, heading into his last few games will be bittersweet.
“There’s definitely mixed emotions,” he said. “We have a lot of potential and the county championship is one of the goals. I think we honestly have a chance to do that. We just need to come together as one unit and keep motivating each other to play better and better, and keep finding ways to win.”