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West Islip hangs on to defeat Westbury for Long Island Class AA championship

West Islip hangs on to defeat Westbury for Long Island Class
AA championship 1

Just call West Islip’s Aidan Lodie, Mr. Clutch.

The Lions’ junior midfielder entered Sunday with six winning goals and four winning assists this season.

Lodie assisted the Lions’ second and third goals, and scored the fourth which proved to be the winner after a resilient Westbury scored twice within a span of 1 minute and 58 seconds.

However, the Green Dragons couldn’t find the tying goal as West Islip escaped with a thrilling 4-3 win in the Long Island Class AA championship/Southeast Regional final before a crowd of 800 at Longwood.

West Islip (18-2-1) faces Fayetteville-Manlius (19-0-1) in the state semifinal at 8:30 a.m. Saturday in Middletown.

Interestingly, Lodie had an uneventful opening 40 minutes as the two teams were tied at 1.

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“[Aidan] struggled in the first half,” Lions coach Eddie Pieron said. “Obviously, he picked it up in the second half.”

Indeed. Lodie set up Chris Laino who scored in the 48th minute and Vincent Grieco who went near post in the 60th minute as West Islip — which won its first Suffolk title since 1973 on Thursday — led 3-1.

Lodie wasn’t done. He scored his 18th goal of the season with 8:15 left as the advantage was 4-1. It proved to be important.

Things got interesting when Westbury’s Edison Arias Velasquez scored on a free kick with 6:16 left, and then he set up Arvin Pereira, who made it 4-3 with 4:18 to go in regulation.

“We started to pack it up and it cost us,” Pieron said. “Westbury is very, very good and super talented.”

Not to mention, rugged.

“In the past, hands down, we would have crumbled,” Westbury coach Chris Valentini said. “We’ve always had talent, but what do you do when talent fails? We showed that toughness today.”

Joe Blackton scored in the 15th minute — his 19th goal of the season — to open the scoring for the Lions.

Later, Westbury’s Brian Rivas Torres crushed an absolute rocket that seemed destined for the back of the net, but goalkeeper Lucas Iacono (4 saves) made an incredible diving save.

“He’s actually made better [saves] at practice,” Pieron said.

Lodie added: “But it was a beautiful, beautiful save.”

Westbury scored the equalizer with 3:25 left in the first half when Kevin Cruz converted a penalty kick, after a Westbury player was pulled down in the box. Kevin Salinas made eight saves for Westbury (11-5-1).

But in the end the night belonged to West Islip.

“This is so special,” Lodie said, “to do this [win an L.I. title] for the first time in school history.”

Then, Lodie got quiet.

“I’m humble,” he said. “I don’t like to boast.”

No problem, Mr. Clutch.

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