Shoreham-Wading River Wildcats win Suffolk County Class B title with 11-5 win over Sayville
Just call them the comeback kids.
For the second game in a row, Shoreham-Wading River juniors on the boys’ lacrosse team came up huge for the Wildcats.
At center field was Joe Miller, hunched over at the X under the hot sun Wednesday afternoon. He won 14 of 18 faceoffs, helping spark a huge second-half run that turned a 5-2 halftime deficit into an 11-5 win over Sayville for the Suffolk County Class B title.
“Joe Miller, they had no answer for him,” junior attack Chris Gray said. “He was giving us all those possessions and it was a hell of a game for him.”
According to Miller, he was just doing his job.
“I knew I did pretty well against them the first time and I just needed to do my job so the team could get the win,” he said. “It definitely helped, but everyone had an equal role.”
The two fed off each other — after a Jon Constant goal, Miller’s faceoff helped Gray to a goal of his own at the 9:35 mark of the third quarter, to make it a one-goal game.
Next, it was junior midfielder Kevin Cutinella, who received a pass from Gray to tie the game, like he did against Comsewogue in the semifinals.
“Me and Kevin are neighbors and he’s a great friend of mine,” Gray said. “We’ve been doing that since we were in third grade, so it means a lot to come out here and do this on such a big stage.”
Cutinella spread the credit around.
“There was just all around good passing and it opened up gaps for me to shoot,” Cutinella said. “They slowed us down in the first two quarters and we realized that that’s not how we play. We play fast, so we sped it up in the second half. We weren’t complacent, and we never settled down.”
He said he felt fortunate and was happy he was able to score the tying goal for the second straight game. He connected with his pal two minutes later, to help Gray to his hat trick goal.
What was no doubt the play of the game, though, was Miller’s second score that gave the Wildcats a three-goal lead. Hunched over again, in a familiar position, this time he found himself in front of the cage. Miller made a check that knocked the ball loose, and then, according to Gray, he “did his magic.”
“I made a little check and the ball ended up on the ground,” Miller said. “I had my back to the goal and I knew where it was, and I just flung it toward there and hoped for the best. It helped me out with the way I can position my stick.”
Being honest, Gray said his team was nervous trailing at halftime, but said head coach Mike Taylor kept the Wildcats settled.
“He told us not to get down on ourselves and we know we’ve been there before, just like last game,” Gray said. “We wanted to stick together and we kept the motto of playing together, playing for each other, and we really started to build off each other.”
The defense was solid in the last game, when the Wildcats held Comsewogue scoreless in the second half. The boys did the same against Sayville on Wednesday, with senior goalie Jimmy Puckey making nine saves between the pipes.
Gray pointed out that the team knows how good winning feels, since most of the guys are on the football squad and went undefeated in back-to-back seasons there. But he said that winning in lacrosse felt unreal, especially coming off a season a year prior, when the team went undefeated and were the favorite to go all the way until Sayville sent them home in the semifinals.
The win means a lot to Gray, because he was able to do it with all his brothers, and Cutinella felt the same.
“It’s one of a kind,” he said of the sensation, laughing. “It feels better than football. Don’t tell coach I said that.”