By Michael J. Lewis
The score was 9-8, and there was enough time on the clock for one more offensive play.
Schreiber High School and Syosset had battled all game, for 47 minutes, not giving an inch, with barely a goal between them the whole evening here on the turf at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium, the Class A boys lacrosse championship on the line.
Port Washington’s natives clung to a one-goal lead in this game they trailed 4-1 early, and didn’t lead until the fourth quarter.
Now, after a Vikings turnover, Syosset, the defending champs, had the ball and a timeout with :43 left, and a chance to send the game into overtime.
As the crowd nervously paced and waited for the conclusion, Vikings coach Isaac Neal had one message for his team: KYP. Know Your Personnel.
“I told them to understand who you’re guarding, who the guy next to him is and what he might do, and stop all of the knowns,” Neal said. “And then one of our guys made a play.”
That guy was junior defender Gargas Stamati, who in a 1v1 battle with Syosset’s Brody Waxer, stripped the ball from the Braves attack and came away free. Waxer slumped to the ground, hands clutching his helmet, as he knew the game was done.
After a 27-year wait, the Schreiber boys were finally county champs again. Not since Bill Clinton’s first term had a celebration like this taken place.
“You grow up hearing about and watching amazing players like the Froccaros (former all-Americans from Schreiber Jake and Jeff Froccaro) and wanting to be like them, and to be able to do this for our town, it’s just an amazing feeling,” Meyer said. “It’s surreal.”
Then Meyer looked out to the hundreds of Port Washingtonians still ringing the field and screaming with delight.
“And for this community, to come out like this, we love them all!”
The win for Schreiber was a squeaker, just like the 11-10 triumph over Syosset in the regular season, and it came thanks to outstanding play from so many veterans. On a night when senior attack star Henry Haberman (headed to college power Loyola (Md.) on a scholarship in the fall) was held to only two goals, it was other players who had to step up.
Senior goalie Bradley Hamroff made 13 saves, including three big ones in the fourth quarter when Schreiber had seized a 9-7 lead.
“The defense just stood tall tonight,” Hamroff said moments after the game, as teammate Hudson Greenberg screamed in his ear that he was “the best goalie in the world!” “We got off to a slow start, like we usually do, but we kept playing strong and made the stops when we had to.”
After Syosset grabbed a 4-1 lead, the Vikings battled back to make it 4-3 at the end of 1, and it was 5-5 at halftime.
The third quarter was more of the same, as neither offense could connect for more than a goal, and at 6-6 heading to the fourth, Neal tried to settle his troops.
“Our guys don’t get down on themselves, if we’re losing, you can’t be surprised, if it’s tied you can’t be surprised, you just have to keep playing,” Neal said. “Everybody makes a bad play sometimes, but recovering from it is what’s important. Make the next play.
Finally, at 6-6, Schreiber made two huge plays. Meyer scored on a beautiful individual move driving to the right side of the cage, followed by a blistering shot into the net by Gavin Jacobsen gave Schreiber some breathing room with 8 minutes left.
But after a 9-7 lead was sliced to one, it was nail-biting time for all, until Stamati made the play that sealed a win for the ages.
Schreiber advanced to play Northport for the Long Island championship on Saturday, June 4. After again falling behind 4-1 early, the Vikings battled back to tie the game at 7-7 late in the third quarter.
But ultimately the defending Long Island champion Northport squad was too strong, prevailing 13-9 over Schreiber.
Still, the glow of the county title won’t soon fade.
“We knew all season we were the best team, but it took a while to finally play like it,” Haberman said. “We had so much confidence in ourselves.
“Now I wanna go celebrate with my team!”