They struck in a brilliant flash of red and gold as each jersey caught the late afternoon sunlight and shimmered with every goal.
The Flyers boys lacrosse team, ranked fifth in the nation by ESPN, exploded for four goals in the first 7:44 Thursday to run past host , 11-8, in a Nassau-Suffolk CHSAA showdown.
“We focused on getting those early goals,” said senior midfield Matt Graham, a Michigan signee, who scored three first-half goals to power Chaminade (13-1) to a regular-season sweep of rival St. Anthony’s.
And like the previous meeting, a on April 5, Chaminade jumped way in front early.
“I wish I knew the cure,” St. Anthony’s Coach Keith Wieczorek said. “We talked about it all week. We talked about it before the game. We spotted them 5-1 over there and they’re too good a team to do that to.”
St. Anthony’s (12-3), ranked 13th nationally, even dominated the faceoff circle. Senior Brendan Conroy won 19 of 22 faceoffs for the Friars.
But Chaminade took away the ball and when the Friars did set up offensively, Flyers goalie Danny Fowler (Duke) stopped 18 shots.
The Friars looked to have momentum early in the fourth when Conroy took a faceoff, ran down and scored in a 14-second burst to close the gap to 9-6. Chaminade held firm and junior attack Ryan Lukacovic (Virginia) countered with his own goal with 9:56 left to make it 10-6.
“At 8-5 we had three or four opportunities to get it to 8-8,” Wieczorek said. “We dug a hole and as well as we played it’s hard to get out of that hole. Their goalie – I love that kid – he played great.”
St. Anthony's was led by senior attack with four goals.
Round 2 might have gone to Chaminade, but the way the CHSAA is set up, these teams automatically meet again in the all-or-nothing Class AAA championship. St. Anthony’s has won the last three titles, including after losing both regular-season meetings to the Flyers.
And don’t think Chaminade has forgotten.
“Getting a win at St. Anthony’s is always a huge win,” Lukacovic said. “It gets our confidence up going into the championship. But it doesn’t mean a lot because we got it last year and lost the championship.”
Thursday’s meeting was simply a bridge to the title game May 24 at 4:45 p.m. at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium.
“It’s not over yet,” Graham said. “We have one more game – the most important game. That’s the one we want to get. These games don’t matter right now.”
Nassau-Suffolk CHSAA Boys Lacrosse
Teams.........................1.....2.....3.....4 – F
Chaminade.................4.....3.....1.....3 – 11
St. Anthony’s..............1.....2.....2.....3 – 8
Goals – C: Graham 3, O’Connell 2, Urbank 2, Zenker, Rhodes, Caputo, Lukacovic; SA: McDonagh 4, Molloy 2, Conroy, Koerner. Saves – C: Fowler 18; SA: Caliendo 14.
Note: We will post a photo gallery featuring game action on Friday.