BRIARCLIFF – Michael DeGasparis lived out every long pole’s fantasy.
The sophomore close defender was given room to run Wednesday in the final minutes of a tie game against Briarcliff’s longtime rival. He exploited the mistake, scoring the decisive goal in an 8-7 win over Pleasantville with 4:08 remaining.
“It’s something you think about the night before a game, something you visualize,” DeGasparis said. “Once in a lifetime, it happens.”
After making a number of timely defensive plays to hang on, the Bears celebrated their first win over the defending Section 1 champions since May 10, 2008.
The losing streak ended at 10 games.
Keaton McCann knotted the score 15 seconds before the game-winner. John Plimpton won the faceoff to start the break.
“John clamped onto the faceoff and got it to Lucas Hoffner, with the pole, and he backpedaled and found me,” DeGasparis said. “I started running and saw the alley open, so I made a move and finished it. I got up and was surrounded by teammates. It was awesome.”
Briarcliff has been inching closer to contender status each of the last three seasons under coach Rob Anderson.
“Mike is a great offensive player,” Plimpton said. “It was beautiful he could do that. We were gassed. He gets the ball and goes in there, you can’t do anything but say thanks for a goal like that.
“We knew we were going to be here, but it’s awesome that it’s finally happened.”
Pleasantville kept building leads, but was impatient and sloppy against the Bears’ scrambling zone defense that keeper Graham Goldheim anchored with a big-time showing.
“We talked all week about this team,” Panthers coach Chris Kear said. “We talked about their zone defense. We worked on it nonstop. We just weren’t sharp today and they played better.”
Pleasantville usually approaches each game with an underdog mentality, but Briarcliff had that edginess on Wednesday.
“It’s a great experience to have, something to cherish, but we have to keep on the hunt, keep going,” said McCann, who had two goals and one assist. “We have Bronxville coming up next week, so we have to keep grinding, stay with the game plan we’d had since Day One. We know we kind of made some noise today, and we know what we have to do to keep it going.”
Player of the game: Plimpton. He kept the Bears in the game, winning 13 of 18 faceoffs. Plimpton also netted a pair of goals.
Turning point: Pleasantville was momentarily up 7-4 after Greg Driscoll and Declan McDermott scored fast-break goals, but Plimpton and Olson made it a one-possession game in the final minutes of the third quarter.
Stat line: Brian Reda and McDermott each had two goals for the Panthers. … Pleasantville picked up only two ground balls in the fourth quarter. … Goldheim made five saves, two in the closing minutes of the game. … Nick Cebel finished with a goal and two assists for Briarcliff.
Quotable: “We definitely came out with a big chip on our shoulders today and it helped us come out with the win,” McCann said.