By PAUL GOTHAM
MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. — Credit Dominic Duncan with timing. Saddled with a personal eight-game scoreless streak, the McQuaid Jesuit Knights leading scorer broke out in dramatic fashion Sunday on the state’s biggest stage.
Duncan snapped a scoreless tie midway through the first half and finished with two goals and an assist on the afternoon as McQuaid (22-0-0) defeated Half Hollow Hills West (XI), 6-0 to claim the NYSPHSAA Class AA championship.
“It feels amazing,” Duncan said of the championship. “I am overcome with joy.”
Minutes after missing on a breakaway attempt, Duncan connected on his first goal since October 4th.
“It was annoying,” he said of the slump. “I was down on myself after missing that breakaway. Coach just said to not let it get me down. I trusted myself.”
The senior attacker, though, had a feeling today was different.
“I just woke up and I thought ‘this is big game,'” he explained. “I’m a goal scorer, and I’ve been coming up short on my job lately. I didn’t want to let my team down. I wanted to make my team proud.”
Adriano Margiotta doubled the lead less than a minute after the first tally, and Duncan gave the Jesuit Knights a commanding 3-0 lead going into halftime.
“He was a big spark for us today,” McQuaid head coach Nino Pilato said. “He had a feeling before the game and told me today he was going to break the slump.”
The Jesuit Knights didn’t take their collective foot off the pedal from there scoring three more times in the second half.
“There is no explanation for it,” Pilato said of the outburst. “The boys were just on. They were locked and loaded, ready to go.”
Margiotta finished with two goals on the game, and he set up Justin LaFountain early in the second half.
LaFountain took Margiotta’s feed along the right side of the 18-yard box and went opposite side netting for a near decisive 4-0 advantage.
Dan Malloy connected on his fourth post-season tally to put the game out of reach at 5-0.
Duncan finished the season with 18 goals and nine assists on the season.
“I didn’t know what his mental state was going to be after missing that breakaway,” Pilato said referring to a post that Duncan had hit in Saturday’s semifinal. “Once he got going, there was no stopping him.”
The shutout was the sixth this postseason and 18th this year for McQuaid. Senior goalkeeper Tommy Gallina made a spectacular save on a point blank attempt moments before Duncan gave McQuaid the lead. Gallina was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
“He has performed all season,” Pilato said of Gallina. “He’s been there when we needed him.”
McQuaid had outscored opponents 91-6 entering play Sunday, but the Knights played four straight one-goal games leading into the state final.
After 17 years as head coach of the Greece Odyssey girls teams, Pilato needed two years to get McQuaid a championship.
“The positive environment, team atmosphere and great families is everything you want,” Pilato pointed to for his success. “You add in great players and it’s a perfect storm.”
McQuaid came into the game ranked No. 1 NYSSWA and No. 2 USA Today.
The state title is the program’s first and the first for a Section V team since Penfield claimed the 2004 AA title.
McQuaid opened the sectionals with a 6-0 triumph over Gates-Chili before beating Webster Thomas (1-0) and Hilton (2-1). The Jesuit Knights edged Clarence (VI), 1-0 in the Far West Regionals and Ithaca (IV), 1-0 in Saturday’s state semifinal.
Half Hollow Hills West played without senior forward Nicholas Duchatellier who received a red card disqualification in Saturday’s over time game with Shenendehowa (II). The Colts played the last 50 minutes of Saturday’s semifinal game down a man before advancing on penalty kicks. Half Hollow Hills received a red card late in Sunday’s match.
McQuaid played without senior starting outside back Mike Riedman (concussion).
McQuaid lost to Shenendehowa, 1-0 in 2005 NYS Class AA final – the school’s only other appearance in the final.