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Ryan Bray

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Ryan Bray dives and shoots for Shoreham. Photo from Rob Bray

By Clayton Collier

Having the opportunity to participate in college athletics is a rare opportunity all its own. Having your pick of some of your sport’s best collegiate programs in the country? That’s a chance few athletes ever get.

Shoreham-Wading River’s Ryan Bray, who will attend Cornell University this fall, had such an opportunity, with nearly half of the lacrosse programs on this season’s Warrior Division I Men’s Lacrosse Top 20 Poll giving him looks.

“I’m really excited to start at such a prestigious school that has a great lacrosse program,” Bray said. “I chose Cornell because it’s a beautiful area and had everything I wanted in a college, and more.”

Shoreham's Ryan Bray races around a Mount Sinai defender in a previous contest. Photo from Rob Bray
Shoreham’s Ryan Bray races around a Mount Sinai defender in a previous contest. Photo from Rob Bray

His father, Rob, said his family is proud of his son’s accomplishment.

“As a parent, you never expect this from your kid,” he said. “But when it happens, it’s so surreal. It’s remarkable. He got himself into [Cornell] through his work ethic.”

The U.S. Lacrosse and Under Armour All-American attack saw interest from schools such as Georgetown University, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Maryland, Duke University, the University of Notre Dame and Yale University, among others.

Bray had initially verbally committed to Ohio State University as a sophomore, but once his SAT scores reached Ivy League standards, Bray reneged on the Buckeyes’ offer a year later in favor of the Big Red. Bray’s father said the situation was a “growing experience” for his son.

“It was a very stressful time for Ryan,” he said. “But it’s kind of a no-brainer when you go from an Ohio State to an Ivy League school, and he handled it as maturely as possible.”

Cornell head coach Matt Kerwick said his program goes through the recruiting process somewhat slower in comparison to other schools, as he tends to research athletes more in-depth to see who is right for his team.

Although Kerwick said Bray will have a great opportunity to get playing time early, nothing is guaranteed. The two-time All-County selectee will have to earn his minutes; nonetheless, Kerwick said he is pleased to have Bray aboard.

Ryan Bray will be trading in his Shoreham-Wading River Wildcats uniform when he heads to Cornell University this fall. Photo from Rob Bray
Ryan Bray will be trading in his Shoreham-Wading River Wildcats uniform when he heads to Cornell University this fall. Photo from Rob Bray

“We thought he was a heck of a player,” he said. “We liked the way he played, he fit with the way we do things here at Cornell in terms of his intensity level and the way he looks at the game.”

Bray credits much of his development to former Shoreham-Wading River lacrosse coach Tom Rotanz, who he said helped him immensely as an athlete. Rotanz, who Rob Bray described as a phenomenal coach, was at the helm during the 2012 Suffolk County Rookie of the Year’s freshman and sophomore seasons, bringing Bray up to varsity as a ninth grader.

“He just held me to extremely high expectations, which helped me develop,” Bray said. “He stressed teamwork a lot.”

Bray also said his current coach, Mike Taylor, was helpful in understanding different offenses, which he believes will benefit him at the NCAA level.

Bray’s final high school game was a 12-11 overtime loss to Sayville in the Suffolk County B semifinals. Although an upsetting way to end it, Bray said he can look back and appreciate his career as a Wildcat, as he moves on to the next stage of his career.

“It was a little depressing, coming to realization that an era had come to an end,” he said. “But it also made me realize how close-knit I was with the kids I’ve played lacrosse with for so long.”

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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.