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Wildcats

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Junior wide receiver Tyler Schwarz breaks to the outside in downing Bayport-Blue Point in the Wildcats opener Sept 6. Photo by Bill Landon

Shoreham-Wading River School District announced it is putting its top coach back on the field.

Varsity football coach Aden Smith, far right, was removed from the team by district officials just before a game against Bayport-Bluepoint Sept. 6. Photo from SWR

In an email release, Superintendent Gerard Poole said they would be reinstating Aden Smith as the head coach of the varsity football team starting back next Monday.

“The district has decided to reinstate the varsity football team’s head coach, effective September 23,” Poole said in a statement. “We are proud of our team which is off to a great start this year.  We thank the assistant coaches who stepped up to lead the team until now, and we look forward to a continued great season.”

Smith was removed from his position after an alleged incident during a pre-season multi-team scrimmage at Islip high school. Players had got involved in what was described as a “scuffle,” and coach Smith had allegedly become involved. At a school board meeting Sept. 13 nearly the entire football team showed up in their jerseys to support the coach, saying his only intent was to defend his players.

“That day of the scuffle, he did nothing but stand up for his players,” team captain and quarterback Xavier Arline said during the board meeting. “If a scuffle is going to happen, we rely on our coach — we expect our coach to come to the rescue. If we can’t count on him, who can we count on?”

Smith, a teacher at the Longwood School District, did not immediately respond to email requests for comment.

While Smith was removed, the two assistant coaches took up the task of running the team, leading them to two convincing wins against Bayport-Blue Point and Port Jefferson.

With the reinstatement date set for Sept. 23, Smith will miss the third game of the season against Southampton set to take place Sept. 20 at 7 p.m. 

Smith will then retake the field Sept. 27 at home in a game against Elwood/John Glenn. Game time is set for 6 p.m.

 

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SWR Senior and football team captain Xavier Arline speaks at Sept. 10 board meeting. Photo by Kyle Barr

Nearly 30 young men in yellow and blue football jerseys sat huddled together in the Shoreham-Wading River High School auditorium Sept. 10 to support their head football coach they said had only wanted to protect their safety.

Varsity football coach Aden Smith, far right, was removed from the team by district officials just before a game against Bayport-Bluepoint Sept. 6. Photo from SWR

SWR’s varsity football coach Aden Smith was effectively suspended from the team Sept. 6 after an alleged “incident” in a preseason scrimmage game against Islip Aug. 30. The board held an emergency meeting discussing a personnel issue the Thursday before. In the Tuesday night meeting, nearly the entire football team sat in support of their coach, asking him to be reinstated.

Section XI’s website said Aug. 30 was a multiteam nonleague scrimmage taking place at Islip High School. Players and parents said the game was largely unsupervised by security staff or referees. Islip school district officials said in a statement it was a “brief scuffle.”

Players painted the picture that players had become violent on the field, and lacking referees, nobody stepped in to break up the unfolding violence except for Smith.

Senior Xavier Arline, team captain and quarterback, gained thunderous applause from attendees in his support of the coach.

“I played many sports over my life, and I’ve had coaches that have cared more about the sport or the result more than their players — coach Smith is not that,” he said. “That day of the scuffle, he did nothing but stand up for his players. … If a scuffle is going to happen, we rely on our coach — we expect our coach to come to the rescue. If we can’t count on him, who can we count on?”

Fellow team captain and senior Mike Casazza echoed his teammate’s words.

“Coach Smith is so invested in our team but at the same time focuses on helping every single one of his players,” he said. “In the summer he sent every kid a letter. He told them what they can improve on and gave us tips as well.”

Other team members said Smith often went above and beyond for his players, including meeting with them off the field or bringing in a person to talk with them about the dangers of drunk driving.

John Arline, Xavier’s father, related back to previous tragedies in SWR football history as to why Smith ran out onto the field that August day.

“When it’s your son lying at the bottom of a pile, who comes to your son’s rescue?” he said. “When it’s your son being hit helmet to helmet, who do we expect to protect them? … [Smith] provided safety and tried to defuse the situation.”

While details on the fight remain fuzzy, Rick Casazza, Mike’s dad, said there was an obvious lack of referee supervision. He added in a play prior to the scuffle an Islip player had pulled his son’s helmet, punched him in the face and grappled with is face mask.

“Coach Smith was the only coach to step in and verbally handle the situation,” he said. 

Players and parents continued on saying Smith had been a mentor to the players, with Casazza’s father saying the coach had shared college prospects with him over the phone.

Board President Michael Lewis said the district would be receiving additional information for their investigation come Friday, including written statements from people there at the scrimmage and advice from attorneys.

“This board is not sitting back,” he said. “We’re making sure we get it right.”

Jeff McAuley, a longtime member of the football and soccer booster club, said Smith has been ostracized due to the news, but on Aug. 30 he was teaching his players to step in and protect those who need it.

“Coach Smith stepped in and protected his players at all costs.”

— Xavier Arline

“If this community has been rocked with tragedy, we have the opportunity here to prevent what I feel is a tragedy,” he said. “He came to the aid of a player. Nowhere are the other coaches being suspended, nowhere are the referees that should have been there, and he’s being ostracized.”

Though as the investigation goes on, the number of weeks left in the season depletes as well. 

The suspended head coach could not be reached for comment. Interim head coach Virgil Romer instead led the team to an opening home victory last Friday against Bayport-Blue Point.

Players did not give a full description of what happened at the game from their point of view. Instead Arline made a statement on behalf of the team.

“Coach Smith stepped in and protected his players at all costs,” he said.

Smith was installed as head coach last year and he helped take SWR past division finals in the 2018 season and to the top-seeded spot in Division IV for this year.

There are about eight weeks left in the season until playoffs. The board nor Superintendent Gerard Poole could give a timeline when the investigation would be concluded.

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Melissa Marchese proved herself in sports, was set to graduate June 28

Shoreham-Wading River senior forward Melissa Marchese battles in the paint Feb. 11. Photo by Bill Landon

A community that has become much too familiar to tragedy was left reeling June 14 as Melissa Marchese, 18, a Shoreham resident and senior at the high school passed from her injuries received in a car crash the day before.

Shoreham-Wading River senior Melissa Marchese During an April 22 Softball game. Photo by Bill Landon

Suffolk County police confirmed her death Saturday,  June 15.

Marchese’s father Charlie Marchese posted a lengthy eulogy on his Facebook page. He called his daughter “… brilliant, she was magnetic,” and said she fought long enough in order for doctors to donate her organs, something she had always wished to do.

“She would light up the room with her smile and make everybody burst with laughter,” Marchese’s father wrote. “Melissa was a remarkable athlete. Fierce, determined, and focused. Just try to slide into her at home plate or try to battle her for a rebound. She did not lose. She was a born leader in all facets of her life. Whether barking instructions on the softball field or leading her friends in a dance or a song, everyone would follow her. She did not lose.”

Marchese was in the backseat of a car turning left onto Route 25A from Miller Avenue June 13. The high school was having its senior honoring ceremony. Another vehicle, driven by Ridge resident Michael Troiano, 34, went through a red light and struck Marchese’s vehicle. The two other students in Marchese’s car, Evan Flannery, 17, and Caroline Tyburski, 18, both of Shoreham, were transported to St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson with non-life-threatening injuries. Marchese was airlifted to Stony Brook University Hospital, where she died a day later.

The Shoreham-Wading River school district released statements Friday and Saturday.

Melissa Marchese battles Mount Sinai senior Gabby Sartori for a loose ball under the boards Jan. 22. Photo by Bill Landon

“We extend our deepest condolences to the individual’s family and friends, and we continue to keep all those involved and impacted by this tragedy in our thoughts during this very difficult time,” the district wrote on its website.

Marchese was well known in the district for her work on the basketball court and the softball field.

Adam Lievre, Marchese’s basketball coach, said he would watch Marchese move around the court and be awed at her tenacity. It was that tenacity, he said, that had her fighting death until the time they could donate her organs.

“She was willing to throw her body anywhere and everywhere to get every rebound,” he said. “I’ve never coached a kid who wanted rebounds so badly, and she went after every ball with this relentless effort. It was contagious when the other kids saw how hard she worked, was an example she led on the court.”

He remembered two cases of her caring personality. One was on the court where she saw eighth-grader GraceAnn Leonard get knocked over, and she “sprinted” over to help her up. The other was in the locker room after the team’s heartbreaking playoff 42-41 loss against Sayville Feb. 12. 

“She was sitting right in front of me in tears, so emotional about losing but so thankful, she said how thankful she was to be a part of the team and how great it was,” Lievre said.

Marchese was known as a standout softball player in SWR, having been recognized as All-League in the Scholar-Athlete Team in March and was committed to the University of Hartford for softball.

Once it became known of Marchese’s hospitalization, a GoFundMe page was started, and within a day raised nearly $20,000. By Tuesday, June 17, the site had raised over $60,000.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Melissa and the Marchese family,” Joseph Dwyer, the GoFundMe organizer, wrote to the page. “Thank you all for your generous donations during this time of unthinkable sadness and utter despair. God Bless.”

The school district canceled senior finals June 14 and made mental health staff available. The district also invited students to the high school library Saturday for staff to support them.

Melissa Marchese. Photo from SWR School District

Shoreham has become well known for tragedies of this kind. In 2014 the community grieved for Tom Cutinella, who died due to a head injury on the football field. In 2018, the community wrapped hundreds of red ribbons on flagpoles to memorialize Andrew McMorris, who was killed by a drunk driver while out on a hike with his Boy Scout troop. 

The Andrew McMorris and Tom Cutinella memorial foundations both shared their condolences on their Facebook pages.

“No one should ever have to go through this,” a post to the Tom Cutinella Memorial Foundation Facebook page read.

Marchese’s wake will be held at Branch Funeral Home, located at 551 Route 25A in Miller Place, on June 20 from 7 to 9 p.m. and June 21 from 2 to 5 p.m. and at 7 to 9 p.m. Marchese’s funeral procession will leave the funeral home at approximately 9:30 a.m. on June 22. A Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. at St. Mark’s R.C. Church, located at 105 Randall Road in Shoreham.

This article has been updated to reflect the name of the eighth-grader who Marchese helped up.

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The Wildcats erupt after Anthony Cimino’s goal found the cage in the opening seconds of the overtime period, for the Class C title against Mount Sinai at Farmingdale State College May 28. Photo by Bill Landon

The Mount Sinai Mustangs boys lacrosse team traded goals with the Shoreham-Wading River Wildcats throughout all 48 minutes of regulation in the Suffolk Class C final at Farmingdale State College May 28. Both teams knotted at 13-13. 

It was SWR senior Anthony Cimino’s stick that made the difference when he scored his only goal of the game in the opening seconds of the sudden victory period to give the Wildcats the win, and with it another county championship victory. 

The Mustangs couldn’t contain Shoreham-Wading River junior Xavier Arline, who did what he’s done all season topping the scoring chart for the Wildcats with six goals and a pair of assists. SWR sophomore Johnny Schwarz stretched the net four times and teammates Jack Erb, Alec Gregorek and Tyler Schwarz each scored.

Senior Bobby DeMeo topped the leaderboard for the Mustangs with an assist and six goals.

With the win the Wildcats advance to the Long Island Class C championship round where they’ll face Cold Spring Harbor June 1 at the James M. Shuart Stadium at Hofstra University. 

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It was a back and forth battle between the Shoreham-Wading Wildcats and visiting Sayville in the Div-II class C quarterfinal playoff round May 18 with both tied at four goals each at the half. Junior attack Hayden Lachenmeyer scored the go ahead goal for the Wildcats with a seemingly impossible goal for SWR. She lay on the ground but yet managed to get a shot off for the goal. With just over two minutes left, Shoreham-Wading River netted an insurance goal and from there let the clock upwind for a 9-7 victory.

Senior Isabella Meli topped the scoring chart for the Wildcats with an assist and three goals as her younger sister Gabby Meli had an assist and netted two goals. Senior Nicollette Constant scored as did Lachenmeyer with her out-of-nowhere shot while freshman Catherine Erb along with teammate Amanda Padrazo, a junior, had a goal apiece.

The Wildcats as the No. 4 seed advances to the semifinal round and will face top seeded Mount Sinai on the road May 22. Game time is 4 p.m. with a $10 admission ,or tickets can be purchased online for $7at: https://gofan.co/app/school/NYSPHSAAXIWildcats advance to semi-finals with one impossible shot

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By Bill Landon

Miller Place’s softball team was down in runs for most of the game at Shoreham-Wading River Wildcats April 22, but the team rallied in the top of the seventh,scoring four unanswered runs to tie the game against SWR at 11-11 to force extra innings. 

It was Wildcats freshman Lindsay Cahill’s bat that decided the game in the bottom of the ninth, driving home senior Katlynn McGivney to win the game, 12-11, in a League V matchup against their crosstown rival.

Sophomore pitcher Genna Baudo was credited with the win as the Wildcats improve to 3-6 in league. The loss drops the Panthers to 6-3 with seven games left to play before the postseason. The Wildcats will need to win four games out of their remaining schedule to extend their season.

The crosstown rivals will take on two of the South Fork teams April 25, with visiting Miller Place taking the field against East Hampton for a 10 a.m. start. The Wildcats will host Westhampton with first pitch also at 10 a.m.

 

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By Bill Landon

Shoreham-Wading River’s girls basketball team had their work cut out for them in an out-bracket playoff game against Sayville Feb. 11. The Wildcats had faced Sayville twice during the regular season and lost by 19 and 22 points, respectively. However, this was a different Wildcat team with a swarming defense that held Sayville at bay, leading by five at the half and then by three to open the 4th quarter. Sayville was able to tie the game with 4 minutes left as both teams struggled to find the rim. Tied at 41 all with six seconds left, the officials called a foul on the Wildcats, sending Sayville to the line shooting two. Sayville made the first but missed the second as the Wildcats rebounded the ball with less than four seconds remaining. SWR managed to get a shot off, but it missed its mark as time expired in a heartbreaking 42-41 loss.

Co-captain and senior Michele Corona led the way for the Wildcats with 22 points, fellow co-captain Abby Korzekwinski, a junior, netted 8 while eighth-grader GraceAnn Leonard banked six. The loss concludes the Wildcats season with a 9-10 record in League V with a 9-12 record overall. 

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By Bill Landon

Despite a late game surge by the Wildcats, Mount Sinai’s girls basketball team was able to make a stand holding off visiting Shoreham-Wading River in a League V contest Jan. 22 for a 50-39 victory. Mount Sinai senior Gabby Sartori banked seven field goals and eight free throws to lead her team with 22 points. Senior Brooke Cergol followed up netting a 3-pointer, four field goals and one from the stripe putting up a total of 12. Atop the leaderboard for the Wildcats was senior Melissa Marchese who swished five and made three from the line for 13 points. 

The win puts the Mustangs at 9-3 league 11-3 overall with six games remaining. This puts them solidly in the playoff mix. The loss drops the Wildcats to 6-6 league 6-8 overall and will need several wins in their remaining six games to secure postseason berth. 

The Wildcats have three of those games in the next eight days as the regular season winds down. Mount Sinai retakes the court Jan. 26 hosting Bayport-Blue Point and again two days later Jan. 28 facing Westhampton at home. Game times are 10:00 a.m. and 6:15 p.m., respectively.

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By Bill Landon

After a disastrous first half for Shoreham-Wading River’s boys basketball team netting only 7 points before the break, the Wildcats came out shooting in the third quarter out scoring Sayville 20-14 over the final 16 minutes of play; but it was too little too late. The Wildcats fell to visiting Sayville 32-27 in a League V contest Jan. 5. Tristan Costello banked 4 field goals and a free throw to lead his team in scoring with 9, followed by Tom Bell’s 4 swishes from the free throw line and a pair of field goals for 8 points. The loss drops the Wildcats to 1-4 in the league, 4-5 overall. The team was back in action Jan. 8 where they traveled to Westhampton, but the Wildcats lost 58-60.  

 

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The Shoreham-Wading River Wildcats varsity football team blew out Center Moriches 41-12 on the road Sept. 21. The win improves the Wildcats’ record to 2-1 this season. SWR will host Elwood-John Glenn Sept. 28 at 6 p.m.