And just like that, the Long Island ghosts vanished.
Yorktown — which had lost its previous six state semifinal games to Long Island teams — erased a decade of heartbreak on Saturday at Hofstra's James M. Shuart Stadium.
The Huskers downed Section 8's Lynbrook, 9-6, to advance to their first state championship since 2003. They will take on Section 3's Jamesville-DeWiit in the Class B final back at Hofstra on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
"Long Island's had our number for the past 11 years, so hopefully we can bring that state championship back where it belongs," junior midfielder Mike Dedvukaj said.
Dedvukaj, a breakout star who has fortified the offense, paced Yorktown (17-5) with a team-high three goals. Teammates Connor Vercruysse and Ryan Baker added two goals apiece. Goalie Austin Graham preserved the win with nine saves.
Villanova-bound All-American Luke Palmadesso turned in a true ironman performance, winning 14 of 19 faceoffs, scooping up 13 ground balls and scoring a goal. He won six straight draws at one point to help the Huskers pull away.
"He's one of the best players we've had in Yorktown history, to be honest with you," coach Dave Marr said. "He was dead at the end of the game, but he leaves it all out there and that's the type of kid he is."
Joe Grossi buried a game-high four goals for Lynbrook (19-2), which saw its 14-game winning streak come to an end. Austin Fabel (1G, 2A) and Michael Toy (1G) rounded out the scoring. Goalie Brendan McDougal stopped nine shots.
The Huskers pulled away behind three straight goals from Dedvukaj, who struck twice inside the final three minutes of the second quarter to give Yorktown a 4-3 lead at the break. He then shoveled in a spectacular backhand goal at the 9:55 mark of the third quarter, followed by a pair from Baker and one from Vercruysse to make it 8-3 with 3:14 left in the third.
"Mike Dedvukaj stepped up, gave up some nice plays and sparked us," Marr said. "The second half (Lynbrook) wore down a little bit and didn't play as many guys as we did. We took advantage of some of their mistakes and got on a roll."
The Owls trimmed the deficit to four goals twice in the final quarter, however, they were unable to overcome the Huskers' torrid three-quarter surge.
As the clock ticked down to zeroes, the emotions started to kick in. Yorktown's student section — dubbed The Crop — showered the players with cheers as they ran off the field and into the tunnel.
"I've never felt better in my life," said All-American senior defenseman Austin Fusco, who had two ground balls and an assist. "I've got a chance to do something I've wanted to do my whole life. That's about it. I have no words."
Marr, who has been on the wrong end of gut-wrenching losses to Syosset, Garden City and West Islip, finally took a win back over the Throgs Neck.
"It's been a tough time down here," Marr said. "The guys have really been focused all season and really tuned in the last few weeks in practice and are really playing together."
Yorktown has a familiar opponent in Jamesville-DeWitt. The Huskers bested the Red Rams, 10-6, to win their sixth state title back in 2003, which was also Marr's first year on the sidelines.
"DeWitt's a perennial powerhouse and they are in the state final often," Marr said. "We will try and get a scouting report the next couple of days and come out and leave it on the field."
The Huskers are hoping for a case of déjà vu as they chase lucky No. 7 on Saturday.
"I've been thinking about this my whole life," Fusco said. "I'm going to do everything in my power and so will my team."
Yorktown 2 2 4 1 9
Lynbrook 2 1 1 2 6
LB (7:29) Joe Grossi from Austin Fabel | 1-0 LB
LB (5:04) Grossi from Mike McVeigh | 2-0 LB
YT (3:17) Luke Palmadesso from Nick Bonitatibus | 2-1 LB
YT (0:05) Connor Vercruysse from Bonitatibus | 2-2
LB (10:00) Grossi unassisted | 3-2 LB
YT (2:46) Mike Dedvukaj unassisted | 3-3
YT (2:02) Dedvukaj unassisted | 4-3 YT
YT (9:55) Dedvukaj unassisted | 5-3 YT
YT (9:17) Ryan Baker from Nick Del Bene | 6-3 YT
YT (7:25) Vercruysse from Austin Fusco | 7-3 YT
YT (3:14) Baker from Bonitatibus | 8-3 YT
LB (0:02) Michael Toy from Owen Daly | 8-4 YT
LB (8:57) Fabel from Frank Cavassa | 8-5 YT
YT (6:43) Del Bene unassisted | 9-5 YT
LB (3:42) Grossi from Fabel | 9-6 YT
Yorktown: Michael Dedvukaj (3G); Nick Bonitatibus (3A); Connor Vercruysse (2G); Ryan Baker (2G); Nick Del Bene (1G, 1A); Luke Palmadesso (1G); Austin Fusco (1A)
Lynbrook: Joe Grossi (4G); Austin Fabel (1G, 2A); Michael Toy (1G); Frankey Cavassa (1A); Owen Daly (1A); Mike McVeigh (1A)
Yorktown: Austin Graham (9 saves)
Lynbrook: Brendan McDougal (9 saves)
Email Isaac Cass at Icass@cablevision.com | Follow him on Twitter @MSGV_Icass
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