Calhoun squeaks by South Side


Dating back to last spring, no group of high school athletes in Nassau County has enjoyed more success than Calhoun’s.

Friday afternoon, a few hours after the Colts’ baseball team closed out its semifinal series against neighboring Mepham in the most dramatic fashion, Calhoun boys’ lacrosse flipped the switch on a South Side team that defeated it by a five-goal margin earlier in the month.

Jayden Finkelstein had a hat trick and an assist and junior goaltender Mark Restivo made 13 saves to propel the third-seeded Colts to a 6-5 victory — same score as baseball’s win — over the second-seeded Cyclones in a Nassau Class B semifinal at Hofstra. Jake Lewis, Braden Garvey and Shaun Walters also scored for Calhoun, which advanced to face Garden City in the title game.

“Playoff time is when we want to hit our stride,” said Restivo, who made numerous point-blank stops and has earned the nickname of “playoff Mark,” coach Jim Femminella said. “We all trust each other and have each other’s backs,” Restivo added.

Owen West and Cole DiPietro had two goals apiece and Michael Melkonian dominated draws for South Side, which handed Calhoun a 10-5 defeat May 10 and opened the playoffs with a 17-goal effort against Mepham.

“We played our hearts out but didn’t execute as well as we wanted to,” Cyclones coach Steve DiPietro said. “It just came down to a couple of plays here and there, and they made a few more than we did.”

Neither team scored in the fourth quarter. The eventual winning goal came with 6.4 seconds remaining in the third off the stick of Finkelstein. “We watched a lot of film from our first matchup and what other teams did against South Side,” said Finkelstein, who had a takeaway and end-to-end rush to score with 14 seconds remaining in the first half to give the Colts a 4-3 lead at intermission. “We implemented a zone defense that really helped.”

The Colts, who were missing two key offensive weapons in AJ Molinari and Connor Faughnan, overcame an early 2-0 deficit and are returning to the county final stage where they fell to Garden City 12-5 a year ago.

“Very happy with how the kids stuck to the game plan and made enough plays for us to win,” said Femminella, who lauded the stellar play of Restivo and defensive efforts from Xander Megias, Peter Thomann, Matthew Baci, Matthew Araneo, Kyle Auty and Keith Presti.

“South Side is a strong team that played in the Class C final last year,” Femminella added. “We knew today was going to be difficult. We have 19 seniors who did not want this to end yet.”

South Side’s Ryan Mayerhofer scored with 2:39 to go in the third quarter to create the fourth deadlock of the afternoon. The Cyclones had multiple possessions in the fourth, including one in the final minute, to pull even again but couldn’t find the back of the net.

Calhoun fell to Garden City 16-8 April 21. South Side played the Trojans to a hard-fought 9-8 loss 12 days later.

“We’re going to enjoy this one and go back to the drawing board and get ready for Garden City,” Finkelstein said.