By Andrew Wroblewski
A brother-to-brother connection has lifted the Walt Whitman Wildcats into the second round of Suffolk’s Division I boys lacrosse playoffs.
Quinn O’Hara grabbed the ball for Whitman in the offensive zone, bringing it behind and around Commack’s goal before passing it off to brother Colin O’Hara, who ripped a shot into the back of the net with 1:57 remaining in overtime to seal the Wildcats’ 8-7 win Tuesday night.
The next day in an interview, Whitman head coach Bob Howell “couldn’t say enough about” his team’s “heart and desire to win.”
“They left it all out on the field. They played hard, and as a team. It was fabulous,” he said.
Whitman (11-6), which entered Suffolk’s tournament as the ninth overall seed, led through most of the game, including by a 6-3 margin to start the fourth quarter. Eighth-seeded Commack (11-6) responded, however, outscoring the Wildcats 4-1 in the fourth, sending the game into overtime.
In overtime, Commack controlled the opening faceoff, establishing possession in Whitman’s defensive end. Wildcats goaltender Shane Brennan made a pair of crucial saves to keep his team alive, Howell said, eventually paving the way for the game-winning goal by the O’Hara brothers.
Along with the game-winner, Colin also added another goal and two assists in the contest. Meanwhile, Quinn also scored a goal of his own and added an additional assist for a total of three points. Elsewhere, Scott Manning scored two goals and recorded two assists, and Matt Stockfeder scored three goals. Brennan, an All-County goaltender a season ago, made 15 saves to preserve Whitman’s win, which came on Commack’s home field.
The win was especially gratifying for the Wildcats, coach Howell said, because it avenged an 11-9 loss they suffered to Commack during the regular season. In that game, the Wildcats similarly held a lead through most of the early goings, but let it slip away in the second half.
“We weren’t going to let that happen again,” Howell said. “We were confident that we could go in there and beat this team.”
For their efforts, Whitman has been rewarded with a second-round matchup against top-seeded West Islip (14-2).
The two squads met during the regular season on May 3, resulting in a 13-9 win for West Islip. Last season, however, the Wildcats defeated West Islip 6-5. It was Whitman’s first over West Islip since 1991.
In preparation of Friday’s game, Howell said, the Wildcats are going to “restart.”
“We treat every day like it’s a new season,” he said. “We’re going to practice, and then we’re going to do the things we have to do in order to come out and beat them.”
Game time is scheduled for 4 p.m. at West Islip High School.