The Half Hollow Hills East boys lacrosse team found itself in a familiar position against Sachem East on Thursday afternoon.
The visiting Thunderbirds held a two-goal halftime lead over the Arrows just like they did in the teams' April 28 matchup. On that day Sachem stormed back in the second half for an 11-7 win.
On Thursday the Thunderbirds were prepared to hold the lead in the second half, eventually pulling away in the fourth quarter en route to a 13-7 victory in the first round of the Suffolk County Class A playoffs.
“I put the challenge to the players - is this going to be a repeat or do you want to get to the next level?” Hills East head coach Gordie Hodgson said he told his team at halftime. “And they responded with the number of goals they scored in the second half.”
John Vigh scored one of his two goals early in the fourth quarter on a nice individual effort to bring the Arrows to within 7-5. That would be the final goal for Sachem until two tack on goals in the final minute.
“They played better than us (in the second half,)” Sachem head coach Rob Murphy said, lamenting the fact that his team was not stronger at the faceoff X late in the game.
“I wish we had the ball more because I knew they were going to do that stall offense,” Murphy said. “We just didn’t have the ball enough.”
The Thunderbirds not only controlled the ball in the fourth quarter but were extremely efficient in finding the back of the net. Hills East first took advantage after two fouls on the same play put Sachem East down two players with 9:53 left in the game.
Jesse Parker scored one of his six goals on the day on an assist from Zach Shapiro. Two minutes later it was Dan Bockelman - who finished with three goals and three assists - who fed Parker to extend the Thunderbirds lead to 9-5.
Bockelman or Parker had a hand in each of the Thunderbirds last four goals over a 4:22 span that was capped when Parker scored Hill East’s final goal of the day with 1:18 remaining.
“We had that little extra juice and we had kids step up that we needed to step up,” Hodgson said. “I’m really proud.”
Hills East will play at Smithtown West next Tuesday at 5 p.m. in the second round.