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Jason Curran

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Wildcats can't overcome one-goal deficit as stellar season comes to an end

By Bill Landon

A one-goal Yorktown advantage proved too much for the Shoreham-Wading River boys’ lacrosse team to overcome, as the Wildcats’ stellar season came to an end with a 7-6 loss in the New York State semifinals Wednesday at Hofstra University.

As he’s done all postseason, junior midfielder Kevin Cutinella helped the team get on the board first, when he dished the ball to senior attack Jason Curran, who fired at the cage seven minutes in. Yorktown evened the scored with 29 seconds left in the opening quarter, but Shoreham retook the lead when eighth-grader Xavier Arline spun in front of the cage and, with an NBA-like jump shot, scored from high above the keeper’s stick to retake the lead. On the ensuing faceoff, Yorktown went the distance to retie the game, to mark the third goal scored in less than 20 seconds.

It was a new game heading into the second stanza, but neither team could pull away with a clear advantage. After a Yorktown goal, Shoreham-Wading River senior midfielder Jon Constant flicked the ball to junior attack Chris Gray, who fired a shot past the goalkeeper to even the score at 3-3 game.

“It’s been a fun ride,” Constant said previously of making it to this point with his team.

Again, Yorktown answered, but the Wildcats countered again, when Curran fed Gray on the cut, and drove his shot into the netting.

With both teams in a stalemate, Curran fed Constant on the cut this time, for a Wildcats lead in the first minute of the second half, but again Yorktown battled, scoring once at the end of the third, and again halfway through the fourth, for a 6-5 advantage.

“We made a mistake late in the game after a timeout where we didn’t have enough guys on the field,” said Shoreham Wading River head coach Mike Taylor. “I’m not sure how that happened, but someone wasn’t paying attention from the huddle and by the time I subbed a guy from the box it was too late.”

“It’s been a fun ride.”
—Jon Constant

With 1:11 left in regulation, the Wildcats went a man down for a slashing penalty that proved costly. Yorktown capitalized on the advantage to make it a two-goal game for the first time all afternoon.

With 11 seconds left and Shoreham back at full strength, Curran went the distance and buried a shot to draw within one goal with few precious seconds left. With five seconds remaining, the Wildcats ran out of time.

“This is a big-time moment in lacrosse and I think we were nervous at the beginning of the game,” Taylor said. “Yorktown is resilient — they’re methodical, they do several things well and they wear you down — they take advantage of when you make mistakes and every time we made a mistake they capitalized.”

Shoreham-Wading River finished the regular season 14-2 and had a tough postseason schedule leading up to the state semifinal round, picking off Eastport-South Manor, Comsewogue and Sayville for the Suffolk County Class B crown, before defeating Garden City for the Long Island Championship title to finish with an 18-2 record.

“It’s something special,” Taylor said previously of the team’s season. “I wish this could go on forever.”

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Kevin Cutinella leads Wildcats with four goals, receives championship plaque from parents

Jimmy Puckey doesn’t even like lacrosse. But now, he’s a champion.

“It’s not my favorite sport,” Puckey said. “It’s nothing like football, but you have to do what you have to do. You have to play.”

What would get him to like the sport more?

“More hitting,” he said. “Less getting hit with the ball also helps.”

What Puckey does between the pipes is special. And he did it for his Wildcats, making save after save when it counted to help Shoreham-Wading River to its first Long Island championship title since 2012, with an 8-6 win over Garden City Saturday at Hofstra University.

“Jimmy might not like lacrosse, but he’s playing for his friends, and he has such a passion for his brothers that he doesn’t want to let them down,” head coach Mike Taylor said. “He might not like lacrosse, but he loves his friends.”

It was a different first quarter from what teams have recently seen from the Wildcats, and junior Kevin Cutinella stole the show, finishing the game with four goals on five shots.

The midfielder scored early unassisted, and junior attack Chris Gray added a tally off an assist from senior attack Jason Curran with a man-up advantage for the 2-0 lead.

“He doesn’t panic, and we lean on him because he calms everyone down,” Taylor said of Cutinella. “He’s just a great kid.”

Puckey clipped the ball and made a save seven seconds later, and at the 5:42 mark, Cutinella scored his second goal off a pass from senior midfielder Jon Constant to finish a 3-0 run.

Garden City saved a shot by junior midfielder Joe Miller, and Puckey made another block before Garden City put its first point on the board with 1:40 left to end the scoring for the first quarter.

“Communication was key, not making too many errors on offense and just playing fast,” Cutinella said. “Just playing our game.”

Garden City scored four unanswered goals to take the lead, but Cutinella wasn’t having any of it, and passed the ball to junior Joe Miller who, with a back-door cut, leaped in front of the net and dumped it in for the tying goal with 22.8 seconds left in the first half.

“We have said that we haven’t really played four complete quarters, and I think even today, we played a great first quarter, a poor second quarter, and then a great third and fourth,” Taylor said. “I’m still waiting for four full quarters and when we do that I think we’ll win a state championship.”

Gray received two feeds from Miller, but both shots were blocked with Garden City heavily defending the team’s top scorer.

With 4:52 left in the third, Cutinella scored unassisted for his hat trick goal.

“They had the long pole on Jonny [Constant] which led me to have the shortstick defensive midfielder on me and I just took advantage of that,” Cutinella said. “We weren’t talking in the beginning and then we changed that around, and when our defense plays good, our offense plays good.”

After a few missed Wildcat shots, Constant scored unassisted for a 6-4 advantage with 27 seconds left in the quarter.

“We never beat Garden City and it was great to beat them here in my senior year,” he said. “We had to stop them on defense first and then we had to put them in on offense with great ball movement. The chemistry is good and it’s been a fun ride.”

Puckey, knowing what to do to secure the lead, batted the ball out of bounds to his left with 1.2 seconds on the clock.

“He just showed up and is playing his A game,” Cutinella said. “He likes lacrosse now.”

Cutinella’s parents, pre-planned, but surprisingly to their son, presented the team with the championship plaque.

“Seeing them on the field made my day even more,” he said. “You can’t really put the words together for that stuff. It’s a great experience and I love them. They’ve been there for me.”

Cutinella said this win means everything, adding that the team had one goal at the beginning of the season, and they’ve almost achieved it.

Taylor is also proud to see his team come through with this kind of success after the school scored its second consecutive Long Island championship crown in football this school year.

“This is what you work for the entire year and to see all the hard work pay off and to get to this moment, this is what you play for,” he said. “We’ll celebrate today, but I think now we have unfinished business. I have a lot of the football players on this squad and I think some of their successes is translating over onto the lacrosse field. The kids are playing well in big moments.”

He’s sad to see this season coming to a close, but couldn’t be more thrilled for the special moments these boys have had throughout this memorable season.

“The saddest moment is realizing right now I have four more practices left with these kids,” he said. “Having limited time with a special group of kids, I wish it could go on forever.”

One of the most special moments so far, was for him to see Cutinella receive the plaque from his parents, especially after the game he’d had.

“That’s an ironic moment — especially when it was planned prior to this — for him to have that type of game,” he said, fighting back tears. “These kids have been through so much tragedy, they just deserve this. I think someone might be looking down from above.”

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Shoreham-Wading River's Jason Curran can't be caught as he races to the cage. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Photos by Desirée Keegan Clockwise from left, Shoreham-Wading River’s Jon Constant winds up for a shot with Mount Sinai’s Shane Walker on his back. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Shoreham-Wading River’s Jon Constant winds up for a shot with Mount Sinai’s Shane Walker on his back. Photo by Desirée Keegan

The Wildcats scored early and often, with senior Jason Curran’s four goals leading the way, as the Shoreham-Wading River boys’ lacrosse team downed crosstown rival Mount Sinai, 9-4.

“It’s great to get back at them for last year,” Curran said of Mount Sinai handing Shoreham one of its two losses of the season. “They’re the top dog. Since they won counties least year, it’s great to be able to finish against them with a nice win.”

It seemed like they may come out on top again, as senior Matt Boscarino started the scoring nearly halfway into the first quarter, with a rocket to the left side to break the ice. Mount Sinai senior goalkeeper Peter Mastrorocco also made a couple of early stops.

Despite opening strong, Mount Sinai’s defense turned the ball over several times in a row, and from there, Shoreham opened the floodgates to five straight goals through the opening of the second stanza. Despite the scores, Mastrorocco kept his team in the game, making five saves in that span on his way to 15 on the afternoon.

“I felt good, but I can’t do well unless I have a good defense, so I give that to them,” he said. “We locked down the wing shots and the crease shots.”

Shoreham-Wading River’s Chris Gray reaches back to pass the ball. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Shoreham-Wading River’s Chris Gray reaches back to pass the ball. Photo by Desirée Keegan

But Mount Sinai struggled to secure a faceoff win or a ground ball race. The team scored one goal in the second, and again to open the fourth, but that goal with 10:54 remaining was the last one they’d rattle the cage with.

“I think we need to work on our ground balls and our shooting, and we’ll be a big team to beat,” Mastrorocco said. “I think the team is making progress every single day. We work as hard as we can on and off the field and we’re putting in a lot of work.”

On the other side of the field, Shoreham’s scores were showing how far the work has already taken them.

The game heated up as Mount Sinai closed the gap to 7-4, but the Wildcats remained composed.

Junior attack Chris Gray fed Curran a pass, but Mastrorocco stopped the shot. Curran still scored amid frenzy in front of the net, on his next attempt seconds later, to an open left side.

“When my shots go in, I’m happy,” Curran said. “But I wouldn’t be scoring goals if it wasn’t for people like Jon Constant and Chris Gray feeding me.”

Mount Sinai’s Griffin McGrath battles Shoreham’s Jack Quinn. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Mount Sinai’s Griffin McGrath battles Shoreham’s Jack Quinn. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Gray said Joe Miller, a junior going to Navy, remaining poised at faceoff, helped the team to victory.

“He did a great job today, winning and giving us all the possessions that allowed us to score,” he said. “We had a lot of intensity coming into the game and it carried throughout all four quarters. Our defense looked great. They went man-up a couple of times, the other team, and we shut them down. The chemistry on offense today was really flowing for us.”

Eighth-grader Xavier Arline and Gray scored twice and added an assist each. Gray said his team not only has the bond, but the leadership and talent to get to the playoffs.

Curran liked that his team played smart while dominating the time of possession to secure the win. But he’s never satisfied.

“We’re always trying to get better moving forward,” he said. “If we can continue to play together, play unselfish and play smart lacrosse, we can go far, but if this is the best game we play all year, that’s not good. We want to get better after every week.”

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Senior running back Chris Rosati rushes away with four touchdowns in team's 24th win in two seasons

By Joe Galotti

Most young men who decide to put on a helmet and pads and play high school football never get to experience the joy of winning a class championship or putting together a perfect season. On Friday afternoon, at Hofstra University’s Shuart Stadium, the Shoreham-Wading River football team had the rare opportunity to reach both of those achievements for a second straight season, and did not let it go to waste.

The Wildcats jumped out to a 28-point first-half lead over Locust Valley, helping them come away with a 35-7 victory in the Long Island Class IV Championship game. Senior running back Chris Rosati led the way with four rushing touchdowns, and the team’s eye-popping winning streak was extended to 24 games.

“(Going undefeated twice) is very special,” Shoreham-Wading River head coach Matt Millheiser said. “It really was something I wanted them to achieve and carry with them, and they did that today.”

After the victory, Rosati admitted that the team felt pressure all season long trying to repeat last fall’s undefeated campaign.

“Every team was looking to beat us,” Rosati said. “We got everyone’s best game, but we just really fought hard against every team we faced.”

If the Wildcats were at all nervous on Friday, they did not show it, as they jumped all over the Falcons early on, putting up two quick scores on the team that had entered the contest allowing the fewest points on Long Island this year.

Rosati got Shoreham-Wading River on the board when he capped off the team’s opening drive by taking a pitch to the right side 26 yards for a touchdown. On the Wildcats next drive, Rosati delivered a two-yard rushing touchdown, which was set up by a 31-yard run by senior wideout Jon Constant.

Early in the second quarter, Rosati drove his way into the end zone once again, this time, on a 1-yard rush.

“Chris is amazing,” senior guard Dalten Stalzer said. “Just watching him play every week; it’s crazy. Some of the things he does and the tackles he breaks, it makes us look good.”

With 1:24 remaining before the half, senior quarterback Jason Curran put the game out of reach with a six-yard touchdown pass to Constant.

Shoreham-Wading River was extremely effective on the ground in the game, with Rosati rushing for 110 yards, Curran rushing for 91 yards and Constant rushing for 90 yards. Much of this was made possible by a dominant performance from the team’s offensive line.

“We knew what we needed to do to execute,” Constant said. “But [our success] all starts with our line’s performance.”

The Wildcats’ defense also put up a strong effort, forcing three interceptions and not giving up a score until the fourth quarter. Constant was responsible for two of the picks, while Rosati had the other.

With another perfect season in the books, Shoreham-Wading River is arguably in the midst of one of the best runs in Long Island high school football history. But Millheiser says that the key to the Wildcats’ success has been not getting caught up in any of the streaks or stats.

“We were more concerned about doing our jobs and doing the right thing,” Millheiser said. “When you focus on those things the fun numbers like 24-0 seem to come with it.”

During Shoreham-Wading River’s postgame team photo with its championship trophy, the team once again got the opportunity to honor the memory of their former teammate Tom Cutinella, who died as a result of an on-field collision in a 2014 game. Senior lineman James Puckey held up Cutinella’s No. 54 jersey for the group shot, making it clear that he was still very much a part of the Wildcats team.

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The Shoreham-Wading River football team poses for a group photo in celebration of it's second consecutive Suffolk County championship with a 24-14 win over Elwood-John Glenn on Nov. 19. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Since November 2013, all the Shoreham-Wading River football team has known is how to win football games, and although the Wildcats had their hands full with No. 2 Elwood-John Glenn, the team was able to grind out a win, 24-14, for the Suffolk County Division IV title Thursday night at Stony Brook University’s LaValle Stadium.

“When you work hard this is what you get — a county championship,” Shoreham-Wading River junior quarterback Kevin Cutinella said. “It’s been a battle throughout the season. We’ll watch film and practice late to prepare for the Long Island championship the same way we did for this game.”

Shoreham-Wading River junior quarterback Kevin Cutinella scrambles out of the pocket in the Wildcats' 24-14 victory over Elwood-John Glenn for the Suffolk County Division IV title on Nov. 19. Photo by Bill Landon
Shoreham-Wading River junior quarterback Kevin Cutinella scrambles out of the pocket in the Wildcats’ 24-14 victory over Elwood-John Glenn for the Suffolk County Division IV title on Nov. 19. Photo by Bill Landon

Amid rain and harsh winds, Elwood-John Glenn lined up in punt formation after a three-and-out, and snapped the ball to the punt protector, who was unable to handle the wet ball, and the Wildcats pounced on it, recovering the fumble at the nine-yard line. Two plays later, Cutinella punched in for the touchdown, and with the extra point good, helped put his team out front 7-0 at the 8:42 mark of the first quarter.

With the Knights unable to answer, the Wildcats were on the move again. On the first play from scrimmage, senior running back Chris Rosati drove the ball down to the nine-yard line with just over four minutes remaining in the stanza. Two plays later, Rosati pounded his way into the end zone for the score, and with senior kicker Daniel Mahoney’s extra-point attempt successful, the Wildcats edged ahead 14-0.

On Elwood-John Glenn’s ensuing possession, Chris Forsberg almost went the distance as he broke free of tacklers and covered 81 yards. Shihan Rudyk finished it as he punched it in from three yards out to put the Knights on the scoreboard. With the point-after attempt good, Elwood-John Glenn trailed 14-7 with 7:37 left in the half.

The Knights struck again soon after, when quarterback Wayne White found Kyle Tiernan for a 25-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 14-14 heading into the break.

The rain intensified and the wind picked up in the second half, leaving both teams struggling for traction in the third quarter.

After an injury timeout, Shoreham-Wading River senior Jason Curran took over under center, but it was Mahoney who helped his team score next, as he attempted a 33-yard field goal attempt in the fourth. The senior made it look easy, as he split the uprights to put his team out front, 17-14. According to the kicker, it wasn’t as easy at it looked.

Shoreham-Wading River senior running back Chris Rosati breaks outside for a long gain in Shoreham-Wading River's 24-14 victory over Elwood-John Glenn for the Suffolk County Division IV title on Nov. 19. Photo by Bill Landon
Shoreham-Wading River senior running back Chris Rosati breaks outside for a long gain in Shoreham-Wading River’s 24-14 victory over Elwood-John Glenn for the Suffolk County Division IV title on Nov. 19. Photo by Bill Landon

“It was like kicking a rock,” he said, adding that he was exhilarated to see the ball go between the posts. “It felt like my leg was 10 pounds heavier and the ball was 10 pounds heavier.”

With five minutes left on the clock, the Wildcats added insurance points when Curran handed off to Rosati, who did what he’s done all season, grinding up the middle for the touchdown. With Mahoney perfect on the evening, Shoreham-Wading River put the game away 24-14.

“We put in the right kids in the right spots,” Shoreham-Wading River assistant coach Hans Wiederkehr said. “We were able to make plays at the right time.”

The Wildcats advance to the Long Island Championship, where the team will take on Locust Valley on Friday at Hofstra University. Kickoff is scheduled for noon.

“We’ve got a lot of homework to do because we’ve never seen them before,” Wiederkehr said. “But we’re going to get right back to what got us here — practicing hard watching film.”

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Mount Sinai’s Dan Keenan maintains possession and changes direction in the Mustangs’ 6-5 win over Shoreham-Wading River Tuesday. Photo by Desirée Keegan

The Mount Sinai boys’ lacrosse team is hoping its proficient experience will pave the way for the Mustangs to race off to a successful season.

With a team full of seniors, Mount Sinai head coach Harold Drumm said his players are comfortable and playing more relaxed this year.

“By doing that, I think they’re starting to get a sense of the ability that the overall team has and I think if we continue to work hard and play physical with the lacrosse ability we have, I think we’ll do really well,” Drumm said.

Mount Sinai’s R.J. Voos tries to control the loose ball as a Shoreham-Wading River defender goes to block him in the Mustangs’ 6-5 win over the Wildcats Tuesday. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Mount Sinai’s R.J. Voos tries to control the loose ball as a Shoreham-Wading River defender goes to block him in the Mustangs’ 6-5 win over the Wildcats Tuesday. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Mount Sinai started off the season with a 6-5 loss to Comsewogue and bounced back with a 12-7 win over Bayport-Blue Point before falling to Miller Place, 11-3, prior to entering Tuesday morning’s game against Shoreham-Wading River.

Although the Mustangs raced ahead to an early lead, the Wildcats battled back to close within one goal twice, but ultimately couldn’t level the score as Mount Sinai walked off the field with a 6-5 victory.

“This is a great win for our program,” Drumm said. “We beat Shoreham one time in the last 11 years I think, so it’s a great win for us.”

After Mount Sinai shot off three goals in the first quarter, Shoreham-Wading River junior Jason Curran put the Wildcats on the board with 2:48 left to play in the second quarter, to bring the score to 3-1.

Coming out of the halftime break, Shoreham-Wading River went into the huddle shouting “Takeover on 3. 1… 2… 3… Takeover!” And the team tried to do just that.

With 10:32 remaining in the third, Shoreham senior Ryan Bray found the back of the net to make it a one-goal game.

Three minutes later, Mount Sinai senior Dan Bullis saw a Shoreham-Wading River defender slide away from the crease and snuck in front of the net, and lobbed the ball in past the goalkeeper for a 4-2 advantage.

Bullis followed up his goal with two assists as he first passed the ball to senior Dan Keenan on the left side of the cage who whipped it in, and then dished the ball to junior R.J. Voos with 9:50 left to play for a 6-2 advantage.

“We played pretty good, it was a quality game,” said Mount Sinai senior goalkeeper Charlie Faughnan, who made seven big saves. “I just wanted to stop the ball. I don’t really think about it and just make the saves. I felt good [between the pipes] and the defense played [well].”

Shoreham-Wading River sophomore Chris Gray scored the next two goals to pull his team within two points, and Bray added his second goal of the morning with 52.6 seconds left to play to make it a one-goal game for the second time.

Mount Sinai’s Dan Bullis, who scored a goal and added three assists, makes his way around the cage while Shoreham-Wading River’s Bobby Puckey waits prepared to make a save. The Mustangs topped the Wildcats Tuesday, 6-5. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Mount Sinai’s Dan Bullis, who scored a goal and added three assists, makes his way around the cage while Shoreham-Wading River’s Bobby Puckey waits prepared to make a save. The Mustangs topped the Wildcats Tuesday, 6-5. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“We turned the ball over to them four or five times in the last 10 minutes very unnecessarily, and against teams like Shoreham, it could have very easily come back and the next thing you know we lose the game by a goal,” Drumm said. “So we have to learn from all of those mental mistakes.”

Junior Shane Walker’s multiple wins in a row at faceoff kept the team in the game.

“The beginning of the game was a little rough,” Walker said. “I was a little slow, but toward the end of the game I had some big wins that helped get us the ‘W.’ I think our offense is shooting well. A few of the shots were over the pipes so I think we need to show lower a couple times, but overall it was a good game.”

Bray and Gray finished with two goals and an assist each for Shoreham-Wading River, while Curran finished with a goal and an assist. Senior goalkeeper Bobby Puckey made nine saves in the game.

For the Wildcats, Bullis scored a game-high four points off one goal and three assists, Keenan added a hat trick, senior Zack Rudolf tacked on a goal and senior Tony DiMonti rounded out the scoring with an assist, as Mount Sinai improved to 2-2 in League III. The Mustangs handed the Wildcats their first loss of the season, as Shoreham-Wading River dropped to 2-1.

“I want to look at the season game by game, and just try to play comfortable and play hard,” Drumm said. “We want to keep going and keep winning.”

This version corrects Shane Walker’s grade level and the spelling of Tony DiMonti’s name.