North Shore’s boys’ lacrosse team was missing its top scorer but it was not going to be stopped.
With senior goalie Andrew Fabilli making a career-high 20 saves and four players chipping in two goals apiece, the Vikings advanced to the Nassau County Class C quarterfinals after posting an 8-6 upset last Friday over host Seaford.
It was a landmark win for the maroon, which had been dealing with a lot of hard-luck lacrosse. Two years ago, the Sea Cliff/Glen Head school lost in the first round to Seaford. Last season, North Shore posted a dispiriting losing record and were bounced in Round 1 by Lynbrook.
This spring, the Vikings have taken major steps as the Vikings posted a .500 record (8-8). However, they had lost an early-season overtime heartbreaker to its nemesis Seaford.
Now times are a changing.
"After the first game, we took it straight to the heart,’’ Fabilli said. “We saw how they (Seaford) were acting. We saw adversity and we said it was up to us - nobody else.’’
No. 10 North Shore got its revenge on No. 7 Seaford and now has a larger test in the quarterfinals against No. 2 seed Wantagh.
“We lost all these big games and people put us under the radar,’’ Fabilli added. “The whole team wanted to change the narrative. Nobody expected us to be where we’re now. It’s an awesome feeling. To beat Seaford. I had texts coming in from alumni saying great job.’’
Fabilli had never made 20 saves before – but his older brother, Joe, had. It was a big topic in the household. Joe Fabilli made 21 saves back in 2014 for St. Dominick’s.
“We had fun with it at home,’’ Andrew Fabilli said.
Fabilli got just enough scoring from his attackers. Even with sniper Matthew D'Aversa out with an injury, North Shore stepped up to rally from behind.
Freshman Angelo Anobile and sophomore Luca Korte each notched two goals, senior Jack Kauffman had 2 goals and 3 assists and Cole Gibstein registered 2 goals.
The Vikings trailed 4-3 at halftime and 6-4 after three quarters.
“The Team stuck together,’’ second-year coach John Pace said. “Nobody got negative with each other even when we got down. I feel like they were listening to us and bought into the game plan. Next man up is a cliché but we had that.’’
While Seaford dominated the third quarter in possession, north shore was fittest in the fourth. Freshman Anobile scored the go-ahead goal to make it 7-6 with 3:00 left and Korte scored on a breakaway to give them a cushion they would need.
The 20th and final save was the biggest. North Shore committed an interception and Seaford had a great opportunity that was snuffed out by Fabilli with 1:00 left.
"The fact we lost to them in overtime, it was one of the worst things I’ve felt in my stomach for a while,’’ said Fabilli, who will attend the University of Maryland. “It felt so good after that win.’’
Another key was the man-to-man defense provided by midfielder Pete Liotta on Seaford's top gun, Tim Navin
Liotta was quarterback of North Shore's championship football teams. "He does everything for us - offense, defense,'' Pace said "He’d play goal if we asked him to.''
But Liotta can't yet heal D'Aversa, who has 47 goals, 24 assists for 71 points. He won’t be back for the Wantagh game Tuesday evening. He’s still in concussion protocol after suffering a head injury a week ago following a hit to the head against Friends Academy.
“He wants to play but we’re being safe,'' Pace said.
But North Shore sill has weapons in Kauffman (27-43-70) and Sawyer DeSeve (45 points).
Wantagh is loaded with talented scorers, making North Shore a big underdog. Again.
“We’re not going down lightly,’’ Fabilli said.