Niskayuna scored first and last, but in between, the offensive run that had been its trademark throughout this lacrosse season never came about.
West Islip answered a Luke Goldstock goal with four in a row, and the Silver Warriors played a fruitless game of catch-up in a 9-6 state Class A semifinal loss Wednesday on the turf at Hofstra University.
“At the end of the day, we didn’t play well enough to win,” Niskayuna coach Mike Vorgang said after his team’s nine-game victory streak was snapped. “The first time Matt Sexton had the ball, he ran by a guy and missed the cage. The second time, he hits the post. We’ve got to have those goals.”
Niskayuna (20-2) had piled them up on the road to its fifth New York tournament semifinal game, peppering Minisink Valley with 19 of them and Mamaroneck with 23 in regional action, and totaling 17 goals in a win against Shenendehowa before in the Section II final.
Wednesday’s six goals represented a season low, one fewer than Niskayuna collected in its only other loss, to Massachusetts heavyweight Duxbury.
“We just didn’t get the possessions we needed, and we had key turnovers at key times,” said Sexton, a senior attackman.
Niskayuna put together consecutive goals only once, when All-Americans Tanner MacIvor and Sexton connected to make it 5-4 early in the third quarter. Tom Moore and Nick Aponte countered for the Long Island champions (Section XI, 20-1) before the quarter was through, and Anthony DeLuca’s goal in the fourth frame extended West Islip’s advantage to 8-4.
“As a coaching staff, we said we’ve got to get to double digits to win,” said Vorgang. “We didn’t make enough plays. Not enough possessions.”
West Islip’s faceoff tandem of Kevin Riportella and Jon Reese had much to do with that, combining for 14 wins in the circle opposite MacIvor. Riportella was 9-for-11.
“We didn’t win enough,” said Vorgang. “Tanner is the best faceoff kid we’ve ever had, and on film, we thought we had a pretty good matchup.”
“He [MacIvor] is the guy who got us here,” said Sexton. “Sometimes, it’s not your day.”
Niskayuna enjoyed one of its greatest days at West Islip’s expense in 2005, when it became Section II’s first state semifinal winner, 11-6, on the Hofstra field. Niskayuna also beat Sayville in a semifinal contest in 2009, 15-8, at Middletown. Niskayuna lost in both of its state title bids afterward.
“Games at this level come down to faceoffs, ground balls and goaltenders,” said Vorgang. “They were a little better.”
Evan Quinn made eight saves for Niskayuna, and Jack Kelly had an equal number of stops for the four-time state champions who came in with a No. 13 national ranking by Laxpower.
“Their goalie is very good. He’s going to Brown, but our shot selection wasn’t great,” said Vorgang. “We put the ball in places where a good goalie will make a save. And it didn’t help that we hit the pipe four times.”
Goldstock scored two goals to lead Niskayuna, the All-American attackman’s first coming 2:04 in and his second making it 8-5 with 3:37 left to play.
Moore and Brendan Smith gave West Islip a 2-1 lead at the end of the first quarter, and goals by Smith and DeLuca made it 4-1 in the second. Justin Picardi tallied for Niskayuna late in the half, and Lucas Maloney delivered the Silver Warriors’ final goal of the season inside the final minute.
West Islip also pinned down Syosset in a regional game, winning 11-4, and held off Ward Melville in the Section XI final, prevailing,
9-6. Wednesday’s victory was West Islip’s 18th in a row since a 7-6 setback against Chaminade.
“It was definitely a great year,” said Sexton. “I’m going to miss all of these guys. They’re great kids.”
Niskayuna 1 1 2 2 — 6
West Islip 2 2 3 2 — 9
Niskayuna scoring: Luke Goldstock 2-0,
Justin Picardi 1-1, Tanner MacIvor 1-1, Matt Sexton 1-1, Lucas Maloney 1-0, Blake Pfohl 0-1. West Islip scoring: Tom Moore 2-2, Brendan Smith 2-1, Nick Aponte 2-3, Anthony DeLuca 2-1, Ryan Wieczorek 1-0.
Goaltenders: Niskayuna, Evan Quinn, 8 saves. West Islip, Jack Kelly, 8 saves.