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Harold Drumm

Mustangs earn No. 1 seed in Class C postseason bracket, which begins May 23 for Mount Sinai. Comsewogue claims No. 2 seed and begins B qualifier play in semis May 23.

Mount Sinai boys lacrosse team members pile up on Tyler Gatz after he scored a buzzer-beating game-winning goal for sole possession of the Division II title. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Tyler Gatz took home the Division II title for Mount Sinai.

With the Mustangs down 3-2 in the final minutes, the freshman midfielder assisted on classmate Brendon Ventarola’s game-tying shot before scoring the go-ahead goal as the buzzer sounded for a 4-3 home win over Comsewogue May 11.

Mount Sinai’s Tyler Gatz looks to get around Comsewogue’s Karl Lacalandra. Photo by Bill Landon

The game-winning play called for the ball to end up in the stick of senior JoJo Pirreca, but Gatz said he saw an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.

“The play was sideways,” the freshman said. “I saw that they over-pursued me, so I put the stick in my left hand, got top side and just let it go.”

Mount Sinai was tied with Islip at 12-1 atop the league leaderboard heading into Friday’s game. Harborfields and Comsewogue were tied for second (10-2), but the Tornadoes took down Islip earlier in the evening (13-7) to leave the Mustangs to battle it out with the Warriors for sole possession.

“Comsewogue played great defense tonight — they did a great job, so I feel fortunate that we were able to get this win,” Mount Sinai head coach Harold Drumm said. “It’s easy when you win 10-1, but [we were] playing a tough team and things [were] not going our way. Our team showed it had a lot of heart, and that’s what tells you if you have a team or not.”

Comsewogue attack Richie Lacalandra gets checked by Mount Sinai’s Matt Ventarola. Photo by Bill Landon

After a scoreless first quarter, Comsewogue senior Anthony Passarella broke the ice, and juniors Chris Wolfe and Sean Kennedy scored next to give the Warriors a 3-0 lead with 4:11 remaining until the halftime break. Known for its stout defense, Comsewogue remained solid until eighth-grader Joseph Spallina’s solo shot rocked the back of the cage to end of the quarter.

Not wanting his age to be paired with inexperience, the team’s scoring leader proved his prowess when he struck again four minutes into the third on an assist from junior Dominic Boscarino to pull his team within one, 3-2.

“When we were down 3-1 we really weren’t moving the ball,” said Spallina, who ranks seventh among all Suffolk scorers with 76 points on 34 goals and 42 assists.

The freshman said his team wanted to take it slow, thinking back to the lone loss of the season, a 10-9 defeat at the hands of Islip April 11, and wanted to redeem that loss by taking sole possession of the division crown. Comsewogue went a man-down on three separate occasions and Mount Sinai was unable to capitalize.

Mount Sinai’s Joseph Spallina drives past Comsewogue defenseman Zach Gagnon. Photo by Bill Landon

The tables turned when Spallina was flagged for an infraction and served a one-minute penalty to close out the third, and his team again went a man-down with under three minutes left in the fourth, but Comsewogue couldn’t find the net.

“We had one devastating loss against a really good team,” Spallina said of the loss to Islip. “So we were thinking, ‘Just make one stop at a time.’”

Mount Sinai gained possession with less than 40 seconds left and moved the ball around the cage to let time tick off, allowing for just one last shot before a looming overtime period, which is when Gatz made his move.

“They play hard, they’re very well-coached,” Drumm said of Comsewogue. “We know they have great athletes on the field and we knew we had to tighten up a little in the crease, and even down 3-1 we [knew we’d have] opportunities on offense. We needed to keep believing, so I just tried to stay the course.”

The Mustangs earn the No. 1 seed with the win. Mount Sinai will host the winner of Thursday’s matchup between No. 4 Shoreham-Wading River and No. 5 Sayville in the Class C semifinals May 23 at 4 p.m. Comsewogue, the No. 2 seed, will compete in the Class B semifinals , hosting the winner of the No. 3 East Islip and No. 6 Half Hollow Hills West game May 23 at 4 p.m.

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Danny Bullis stops in his tracks to maneuver around an opponent and go to goal for Mount Sinai. File photo by Bill Landon

After playing his freshman year at St. Anthony’s, Danny Bullis transferred back to Mount Sinai, and he and his team couldn’t be happier with his decision.

Harold Drumm, the Mount Sinai boys’ lacrosse head coach, first saw the now college-bound attackman when he was in sixth grade, playing on a club team.

“We knew he was going to be a special player,” he said. “He was really good and you could see it even at that age. He just really understood the game and we were excited for him to come on up.”

Drumm would have pulled Bullis up to the varsity level when he was a freshman, but the attack decided to try out St. Anthony’s and upon transferring back to Mount Sinai his sophomore year, made the varsity team.

“He was the quarterback of the offense for the last three years,” Drumm said. “This year he really came into his own and became the talented and determined player that we knew he could become.”

The team went 8-8 his first year on the team, where Bullis scored 21 goals and added 27 assists. In his junior year, the Mustangs went 9-6 and the attack tallied 22 goals and 39 assists.

“We haven’t really had a player like Danny since I’ve been the head coach here,” Drumm said. “We had a couple of really good players in the past when you needed a goal or an assist or were waiting for something to happen, but we never had a player of his caliber to give the ball and to create something.”

Danny Bullis celebrates the Suffolk County win with his Mount Sinai teammates. File photo by Bill Landon
Danny Bullis celebrates the Suffolk County win with his Mount Sinai teammates. File photo by Bill Landon

Bullis excelled his senior year, exceeding his sophomore and junior marks by scoring 45 goals and 37 assists.

His second-to-last goal of this past
season was the most important one of his career.

With 3:41 left in the Suffolk County Class B title game, in front of a large crowd at Stony Brook University’s LaValle Stadium, Bullis scored the game-winning goal to help the Mustangs edge out Sayville, 8-7.

“I can’t even describe the feeling.” Bullis said of scoring the final goal of the game. “It was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had.”

Bullis scored two goals and added two assists in the Mustangs’ first county-title win in years.

“He was definitely very dedicated and worked hard,” Drumm said of Bullis. “He had the lacrosse ability and he worked real hard in the weight room this last off-season, got a lot stronger, and that made a big difference for him his senior year. I wish I had a Danny ever year.”

The attack is now St. Joseph’s University-bound, and Taylor Wray, the men’s head coach, is thrilled to welcome his new player to the team.

“He’s a huge addition to our team,” the head coach said. “He’s got a terrific skill set, he has an old-school attackman — two-handed, great vision, speed, he’s a feed first kind of player, and he can do a little bit of everything. He can turn the corner and score, shoot the ball pretty well from the outside and he’s a very well-rounded player.”

Wray is hoping that Bullis can compete for time right away and said he believes he has all the tools to do so.

“We are expecting big things from him over the course of his career,” he said. “From a program standpoint, to have a player of Danny’s caliber and skill set on attack, and to have a character guy who puts the team first, is something that gives you a major piece to work with for many years.”

Although initially a baseball player, it seems that switching to lacrosse was another move in the right direction for Bullis, who was unanimously voted an All-American and the Attackman of the Year for Division II.

“It’s one of my greatest accomplishments,” Bullis said of the All-American nod. “Not as great as the county title, though,” he added, laughing.

According to Drumm, St. Joseph’s is a budding lacrosse program that he thinks is a perfect fit for Bullis. For the player’s mother, Janine, she’s just excited to see how far her son has come in the sport.

“The older he got the more he practiced and the more he strived to become the player that he is,” she said. “I’m so proud of how far he’s come. It’s something that I never expected. I don’t even have the words to describe how exciting it is as a parent to watch the progress of not only Danny, but the entire team.”

Bullis said he plans to take a lot of what Drumm taught him with him to college, and he’s hoping it will make him successful at the next level.

“Coach Drumm is one of my favorite coaches,” he said. “Training with him throughout the last few years has made me not only a lot better of a player, but a better person. He taught me hard work will outwork talent when talent’s not working hard, and I’m never going to give up.”