Photo by Dave Anderson/MaxPreps

 Massapequa’s first visit to the New York State Final Four was a memorable one.

The Chiefs cruised to a 16-2 win over Section 3’s Fayetteville-Manlius in the Class A championship game at Hofstra University for their first state title in their first state title-game appearance. That came after an impressive show of force in a 23-9 victory over Section 2’s Niskayuna in the semifinals.

It was quite a run for the Chiefs. We caught up with one of the catalysts for the championship, senior midfielder Craig Berge, who is headed off to Georgetown University.

berge-e1362877343983Now, here are Craig’s thoughts on the championship season.

What was the feeling like when the clock went to zeroes and Massapequa had finished off the win against Fayetteville-Manlius for the state championship?
Words don’t do it justice. It was the greatest sports moment of my life. There were so many emotions flowing through my body all at once and there is no way to describe how it felt as I ran onto the field knowing I was now a state champion.

How does the feeling of being a state champion compare to what you thought it would be like in all the years of working hard chasing the goal?
I couldn’t have asked for a better ending to my career as a Chief. I’ve played in some memorable games in my life, but winning the state championship is something I will remember for the rest of life.

I feel very lucky to have been a part of the first state title team in Massapequa history. However the greatest part was how close our team was. I will remember all of these kids forever.

If you have to pinpoint two or three keys to the team’s run to winning the title, what would they be?
Everybody knew how capable our offense of putting up big numbers.

But our faceoff guy, Phil Brady, came up huge for us down the stretch. He worked so hard during our playoff run and he is a gritty player.

Plus our defense was tremendous. They deserve as much credit and attention as our offense does. Nick Capuana, Nick Balzano, and Matt Caracappa were tremendous all year. And of course, our goalie Matt Valdini was unreal. I said in the beginning of the year that he would turn some heads, and sure enough everybody knows who is nowadays.

What are one or two plays during the state title run that will stick in your mind and that you may tell friends in college that you meet who are not aware about what the team did?
In the state title game, Jimmy Byrns scored a “Lyle Thompson” type goal that was pretty amazing. There plenty of plays that I will remember, including Ian Kirby’s behind the back split doge that led to a goal as well.

What will you be doing lacrosse-wise this summer to prepare for the start of fall lacrosse in college?
This summer I’ll have to work extremely hard in the weight room and on the field. I will be playing in the Under Armour All-American game which I am looking forward to a great deal. I have a lot of work to do and certain areas I need to work on before I get to Georgetown.

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Posted In: Long Island lacrosse, Player's perspective

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