High School Boys

June 14, 2010

New York State Championships: West Islip's Galasso in League of His Own

by Corey McLaughlin | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online | NY Finals Photos

Class A: West Islip 13, Fairport 5 (Boys) | Farmingdale 6, Lakeland Panas 5 (Girls)
Class B: Jamesville-Dewitt 11, Garden City 5 (Boys) | Garden City 20, Fox Lane 10 (Girls)
Class C: Manhasset 19, Corning East 6 (Boys) | Shoreham Wading River 10, Carthage 9 (Girls)

A West Islip celebration centers on North Carolina-bound Nicky Galasso on Saturday during the Lions' 13-5 win over Fairport in the New York State Class A championship game. Galasso became Long Island's all-time leading scorer in the victory.

© Lee Weissman

STONY BROOK, N.Y. -- The postgame celebration had calmed, and the roughly 2,500 people who earlier filled Stony Brook’s LaValle Stadium had left. Wearing his white West Islip jersey with a blue No. 5, Nick Galasso carefully picked up his belongings -- stick, gloves, helmet, shoulder pads and a bulky 2x4-foot New York State championship team plaque.

Someone grabbed some of the equipment for him, but there was Long Island’s newly-minted all-time points leader, carrying under his right arm the hardware he helped earn as the Lions walked to a stadium exit.

It was the final scene of a genuinely storybook ending for Galasso's high school career.

Galasso became Long Island’s career scoring leader, finishing with an even 500 points with a one-goal, six-assist game in West Islip’s 13-5 win over Fairport in the state Class A championship game Saturday afternoon. The old mark was 498 points, set by Elmont’s Jim Zaffuto, who played from 1974-77.

The state title, celebrated by the Lions with nearly a dozen team pictures, was their second straight and fourth in five seasons, all of which Galasso was a part. And each of his seven points was critical in securing this one. Five came during a 7-0 third-quarter flurry during which he scored a behind-the-back goal and assisted on another no-look score.

“It’s a great thing to have happen,” Galasso said of finishing with a record-breaking performance and another state title. “I wasn’t really planning on it.”

He knew he needed six points heading into the game to break the record, but didn’t want to think about it too much. At practice on Friday, teammates asked repeatedly, “How many points do you need?” Galasso told them it didn’t matter. Only winning a championship did.

“I was aware,” Galasso said. “I knew the stats and my older brothers told me about it. Coach [Scott] Craig knew, but he didn’t want to tell me before this game because he didn’t want that in my head. But I knew that wasn’t going to be in my head. Just winning this game was more important than beating any record.”

He tied the record on a pass to Andrew Hodgson with 1:34 left in the third quarter, broke it on another pass to Drew Federico with 16.3 seconds left, and the 500th point came on a feed on Mike Sagl’s fourth goal early in the fourth quarter.

When the game was over, Galasso tearfully embraced his father in the front row of the bleachers. Galasso’s mother, Cindy, passed away from cancer in 2004 when Nick was 12 years old. Galasso and teammates have worn her initials “CG” in black marker on their lower legs to remember her.

“I did it all for my mom,” Galasso said. “That’s why I was a little upset before, but we’re a team now, and we’re going to have fun.”

And so ended Galasso’s illustrious and well-followed West Islip career. As a first grader, he played attack on a third-grade team and was the team’s best player. By the eighth grade, he was called up to varsity for its playoff run. He played the final two minutes of the state championship game that year as West Islip beat West Genesee, 7-6, to win its first state title in school history.

Galasso was dubbed the top college recruit in his class and he verbally committed to attend North Carolina prior to his junior season. Tar Heels coach Joe Breschi was in attendance Saturday as West Islip finished this season with a 21-1 record and on a 21-game winning streak. Galasso had 66 goals and 70 assists this spring.

“In eighth grade, they were like, ‘An eighth-grader played in the state championship for West Islip.’ Like that was a big deal for everyone,” Galasso said. “That’s when everyone started talking about me. But it’s not a one-man team. It’s a team game. If I didn’t have all these people here, I wouldn’t have these records.”

He said this championship was probably the best because “I’m a senior and it’s my last game ever as a West Islip Lion.”

Class C: Manhasset wins again

In what was at the start of the season considered a “rebuilding year,” Manhasset on Saturday won back-to-back state titles for the first time in the school’s rich lacrosse history.

The Indians beat Corning East, 19-6, in the New York State Class C championship game at Stony Brook and finished 20-0, Manhasset’s third undefeated season. And they did it all one season after graduating 21 seniors, including leading scorer Connor English (81 goals), who now plays at Virginia.

“Last year, that was the so-called Dream Team,” Syracuse-bound faceoff specialist Ricky Buhr said. “This year was kind of a rebuilding year. Most of the community doubted us, that we would be some Joe Schmo team. But coach [Bill] Cherry kept our heads on straight and we worked hard.”

The team motto was "All In," and its play reflected it. In the state semifinal, three players had hat tricks. In the state final, four players -- Penn-bound midfielder Drew Belinsky, Pat Moroney, Chris Cook and Matt Tompkins -- scored three goals apiece. 

Junior goaltender Frank Morelli took over the starting role midseason because of an injury, and sophomore Rob Duvnjak cemented his status as a lock-down starting defenseman.

“We knew we had talent but how were they going to gel?” Cherry said. “The seniors did a great job. They are the ones who tied everything together with the juniors and sophomores. We were one team.”

Class B: Jamesville-DeWitt finishes unbeaten

Jamesville-DeWitt was banged up and bruised heading into the postseason. The Red Rams lost Syracuse-bound midfielder and leading scorer Jake Bratek to a broken collarbone and defender Davi Sacco to another injury with about two weeks left in the regular season.

But they forged ahead and on Saturday defeated Garden City, 11-5, to win the New York State Class B title, getting offensive production and solid defense from a variety of players to finish an unbeaten 22-0.

Eric Dejohn had two goals and three assists and Alex Hatem, Cam Stone and Jordan Evans added two goals apiece against a Garden City defense that had allowed less than five goals per game this season.

Jamesville-DeWitt defenders Dima Bakrukov, headed to C.W. Post, and Cabrini-bound Mac Feiner, held Garden City's go-to offensive players -- Johns Hopkins commit Tom Gordon, a junior, and sophomore Devin Dwyer -- to no points.

“At the time we thought it was bad timing,” Red Rams coach Jamie Archer said of the late-season injuries. “But it was probably just enough time to get everyone on the same page.”

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