Well, so much for that theory.
Section XIII (Nassau County) champion Hicksville made good use of its size advantage all over the field to defeat Section II champ Shenendehowa, 3-0, Saturday morning in the New York state Class AA tournament semifinals at Middletown High School.
The Comets (17-1-2), who are ranked No. 2 in the state, have three players that coach Scott Strakey claims “are about 6-foot-3 — senior James Myers, a midfielder who spends most of his time on the attack, senior midfielder Peter DiLorenzo and senior defender Kyle Brennan.
Myers and DiLorenzo both scored goals, and Brennan cleared the way in front of junior goalie Brian McPartland to put the Comets into today’s championship game.
“That’s something that we work to our advantage a lot,” said Starkey of the Comets’ height.
“It certainly comes in handy. either offensively or defensively, Anytime the ball is in the air in the box, we have a tendency to win it.”
“It’s hard to deal with, when kids are that much bigger and stronger than us,” said Plainsmen coach Mike Campisi.
“When you’re playing against kids who are that much bigger, you have to play body position or they’ll go right by you.”
The Plainsmen, who came into the game with a 19-1-0 record and a No. 3 state ranking, controlled play early and just missed a couple of good scoring opportunities, but the Comets then swung the momentum.
After giving up just nine goals all season, the Plainsmen let up a big one at 11:49 of the first half, off one of of Hicksville’s many corner kicks.
The corner from the right side went to the far post, where DiLorenzo kept it alive with his head, and Myers used his size to get over the smaller Shenendehowa backs and head the ball past goalie Spencer Junco.
“That first goal was just because of height,” said Campisi.
“I thought it just took us time to get settled in,” said Starkey. “The first eight minutes or so, they were dictating the play, but then we started to get into the game and when we got that goal, it really increased our confidence.”
Shenendehowa continued to come up empty, despite some excellent chances, including a shot from Adam Barlow that sailed over the crossbar from 10 yards out with 2:24 left in the first half.
“I thought we played well in the beginning and we had some real good opportunities,” said Campisi. “But toward the end of the half, they started countering well.”
Junco came up with two huge saves early in the second half to keep the Comets’ lead at one goal, but DiLorenzo delivered a crushing blow with 28:18 left, firing a rebound past Junco, prompting Campisi to come out of his chair and yell, “No one’s stepping up on the shooter!”
The Plainsmen started to put more pressure on the Hicksville defense as the time ticked away, and McPartland, who finished sith six saves, made a great reflex save when a shot by Garrett Quimby surprised the Hicksville goalie with 3:37 left.
But Hicksville got the final goal with 2:21 to play, when a cross from the right side found Ralph Hoyos unmarked in the box, and he easily beat Junco to seal the victory.
Hicksville will be trying to win its first state championship since 1979 in today’s title game at 12:30 p.m.
“Last year, we were ranked No. 1, but we got caught in PKs in the semis,” said Starkey.
“This team has a lot of seniors, and is one of the most talented groups to come through Hicksville in a long time.”
The same can be said for the Plainsmen, but only one team will be playing today.
“We had a good season, but, obviously, you want to win it all,” said Campisi, whose last state championship came in 2005. “We came up against a real good Hicksville team today.”
In Class C, Maple Hill defeated Holland Patent, 3-1.
Maple Hill will play Port Jefferson in the final at 10:30 this morning.