In a rematch of last year’s Long Island Class B final, the meeting between Shoreham-Wading River and Garden City had the air of a playoff game.
Garden City fell to Shoreham-Wading River in that contest a year ago, but was able to have a reversal of fortunes, coming from behind for a 12-11 at the ninth annual Lax Out Cancer event Saturday at Shoreham-Wading River.
“I think it’s outstanding,” Garden City coach Steve Finnell said. “It shows the guys’ willingness and character. It looked like we’re dead and buried, but the kids fought to scrap it out.”
The third quarter proved to be the most crucial 12 minutes in the game. The Trojans, ranked No. 14 in the Tri-State by News 12 Varsity, outscored Shoreham-Wading River, 6-1, to overturn a 7-5 deficit at halftime. Seniors Finn Gibbons (three goals, two assists), JP Basile (two goals, three assists), and Jamie Atkinson (three goals) led the way in the victory. Gibbons scored twice in the third, while Basile had a goal and two of his assists during that stanza.
“You’re only going to go as far as your seniors take you,” Finnell said. “They did a great job today in a nice win over a great program.”
“We have a group of 15 seniors that all want the best for each other and if coach tells us to do something, that’s what we’re going to do, and we know that will take us far," Basile added.
The momentum for Garden City (11-3) began at the tail end of the first half when Atkinson scored the first of his three goals on a man up opportunity, after taking a feed from Gibbons, with 2:29 left to play in the second quarter. After Kevin Cutinella (five goals) answered following a feed from Chris Gray (two goals, one assist), Atkinson scored again from a man advantage, this time from a Kieran Gunn pass (goal and assist) and added his third on a strong cut down the middle before receiving a pass from Basile to finish with 17 seconds in the half.
“We just needed to relax,” Finnell said about his team turning it around. “We have guys that have been here for a long time – Basile and Atkinson have been on the field for four years – so, at some point, it’s taking a deep breath and throwing and catching properly.
“I thought as the game went along we started to share the ball better.”
Basile added: “That’s what we’re trying to focus on this year, having all assisted goals. That’s the type of team we are.”
After returning to the field after the halftime break, the Trojans continued to ramp up their offensive pressure, scoring three times in a 14-second stretch. Basile scored with a man advantage to open the scoring in the third quarter, followed by a tally from Sean Coughlin. Tyler Wuchte then assisted Gibbons’ second of the game to give Garden City its first lead of the day.
Gibbons scored again after a feed from Basile before Gunn made a strong cut to the cage and scored on a quick-stick finish after Basile showed good vision to find the cutter with 5:02 left to play in the third quarter.
Shoreham-Wading River (11-3), ranked No. 17 in the Tri-State by News 12 Varsity, was finally able to slow down the Trojans when Cutinella ripped a shot to the top right corner with 4:04 left to play. Keating culminated Garden City's run with a goal from in tight, using several fakes, before planting his shot in the back of the net with 14 seconds left in the third.
The Wildcats tried to battle back with goals from Colin Flannery, Gray, and Cutinella in the final quarter. Gibbons’ third tally, though, with 6:33 left to play, stood up as the winner when he finished near the crease.
Being able to hold off the Wildcats' late surge should go along way as the Trojans get ready for the playoffs.
“”It’s always good to win and get on a run towards playoffs,” Basile said. “I think we’re just going to keep battling.”