HUNTINGTON STATION, New York, April 30
BY: Andrew Wroblewski
Matt Stockfeder scored the game-winning goal for Walt Whitman with 6:32 left to play in the fourth quarter to give the Wildcats their first win over the West Islip Cougars since 1991.
“These kids did a great job today… I’m proud of them,” Bob Howell, head boys lacrosse coach, said after the April 24 game. “We went according to game plan, but in the meantime they hustled to every ground ball, they checked on every stick [and] they trapped who they had to trap.”
Midway through the 6-5 victory, however, the Wildcats faced a deficit as the Cougars nursed a 3-2 lead at halftime.
Whitman goaltender Shane Brennan – said by Howell to be the best in Suffolk County – often stood on his head as he made several saves that prevented West Islip from widening its lead.
“[He was] off the charts; he kept us in it,” Howell said. “He made unbelievable saves; I don’t know how he makes them sometimes.”
From there, the Wildcats stormed back to take a 5-3 lead at the end of the third quarter thanks to timely goals from Stockfeder, Scott Manning and Spencer DeRosa.
Stockfeder delivered what would be the final blow to the Cougars with 6:32 left to play in the fourth quarter as he ripped a laser beam of a shot into the back of the cage – a game-winner for the Wildcats.
“Everything finally clicked for us,” Stockfeder, a junior, said. “This is something special that we’ll always remember: winning here on this field.”
With three goals to his name, Stockfeder led the Wildcats in both scoring and points.
Manning ended his day with a goal and one assist. Colin O’Hara, a junior, added 2 assists of his own. Joseph Neumann won 12 of 14 face-offs, and sophomore attacker Ryan Glidden got Whitman on the scorecard in the first quarter with his lone goal.
In net, Brennan recorded 18 saves to preserve the win and hand West Islip its first loss in League II play.
“We hadn’t been playing all that well on defense, but we stepped it up today,” Brennan, a junior, said. “Hopefully this team can go far; I think that it can.”
Hopefully “far” means into the playoffs, Brennan, his teammates and coaching staff would agree.
With the win, Whitman (5-3), as of press time on Wednesday, sat two games above the pivotal .500 mark with four games left to play in League II. In order to qualify for the Section XI playoffs, teams must finish the regular season with a record of .500 or better.
The Wildcats’ first chance to clinch was on Wednesday as they traveled to Riverhead (4-4).
Depending on that result, Whitman either has another chance to clinch, or improve, its playoff seeding on Friday during what has become an annual night game against crosstown rival, Half Hollow Hills West (5-3). This year’s matchup is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Walt Whitman High School.
Last year, the Colts of Hills West came away with a 12-11 win in overtime.
Originally published: Long Islander News: The Long Islander
(Thursday, April 30, 2015; A42)