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boys’ lacrosse

By Steven Zaitz

L.I.C. is not supposed to stand for Long Island Cakewalk, is it?

That’s exactly what it looked like in the first few moments of the Long Island Boys High School Lacrosse Championship game June 4, as the Northport Tigers raced out to a 3-0 lead in the opening 79 seconds against Nassau champ Port Washington.

With three easy wins at the dot by face-off specialist extraordinaire Tyler Kuprianchik, Tigers Jack Deliberti, Tim Kirchner and Will Murphy were able to slice through and plunder the Viking defense and score three quick ones on beleaguered Port Washington goalie Bradley Hamroff, not two minutes after the singing of the National Anthem. 

With a start like this, it appeared that it was safe for the Tigers to start packing up the team bus for the drive up to Albany for the New York State Championship semi-final.

Not so fast.

“We knew coming in it was going to be a whistle-to-whistle kind of game,” said Head Coach Larry Cerasi, now the proud owner of two consecutive Long Island Championships in his first two years as head man at Northport. “We got off to a fast start, but they are an extremely well-coached team, and we knew it was going to be an all-day battle.”

The Vikings did battle. But the strong opening, a dominating 4th quarter, and unlikely heroes stepping into the breach secured a 13-9 win for Cerasi’s men.

Hamroff would settle down and make several good saves in the first quarter including a straight-on rip from Tiger Midfielder Dylan McNaughton. When Henry Haberman, the Viking’s most lethal attacker, scored his second goal with less than a minute to go in the opening quarter, it was suddenly 4-3.

Put that cake back in the display case.

“We played from behind all season and came back to win a bunch of games, so we never panicked,” said Hamroff, who totaled 18 saves on this hot afternoon in Uniondale. “We knew that we were going to give up goals because the had a big advantage at the faceoff X, but we never once thought we were out of it.”

All year, that faceoff X has been where dreams go to die, and momentum snuffed for Tiger opponents. Kuprianchik won an incredible 80% of his previous faceoffs and would dominate Viking draw-man Alex Papagalis 21-4, good for 87.5%. What makes Kuprianchik’s feat of strength even more wondrous was the fact that he was playing on a sprained foot; an injury that forced him to miss a portion of the Suffolk County final game against Smithtown East.

“I love this team so much.  I would do anything for this team, so I went out there and gave the best performance that I could,” said Kuprianchik, who will be attending Penn State in the fall. “I was really feeling it today and was able to win a lot of them (faceoffs) clean.”

For his efforts, Kuprianchik was awarded the James C.  Metzger award for the second year in a row. This goes to the Most Valuable Player of the Long Island Championship game. Kuprianchik had a similar performance last year in the Tiger’s heart-pounding, 11-10 win over Syosset.

“It’s such an honor to win this award,” said Kuprianchik. “But we won this game as a team.”

The Tigers did get contributions from all positions, all over the field.  Kirchner led the Tigers with three goals and an assist and fellow midfielder Jack Helrigel had two goals, including one of the most important tallies of the afternoon.

After withstanding Northport’s initial blitzkrieg, Port Washington scratched and clawed their way into tying it at 7-7 with three straight goals towards the end of the third quarter. Port Washington Attacker Gavin Jacobsen would rifle one past Tiger Goalkeeper Luke Lamendola with 45 seconds left in the period to get the game even for the first time the since the opening whistle.

It wouldn’t stay even for long.

Helrigel would drive to the net, take a brilliant, lightning-quick centering feed from Murphy, and fling the ball past Hamroff from five feet away with 8.8 seconds to go in the third.  It was now 8-7 and the Tigers would never again relinquish the lead.

“That goal gave us the final push that we needed,” said the senior Helrigel. It gave us the lead back and also the confidence and momentum to put the game away.”

The Tigers won the fourth quarter 5-2 to do just that. Quinn Reynolds, who plays defense, midfield and attack, opened the final quarter by streaking up the center seam and firing it past Hamroff only 12 seconds in. It was 9-7 and Northport would trade a few goals with Port Washington and whittle down the clock to another championship.

“I’m so proud of guys, our coaches and everyone that supports us,” said Cerasi. “We pride ourselves on being well-balanced and today we got contributions from our attack, and we got contributions from our midfielders in the transition game. Also, our defense and goaltender played extremely well. Port Washington double-teamed Mike (Meyer) for much of the game, so our other guys, like Kirchner, Murphy and Helrigel stepped up.”

Meyer, who was second in Suffolk to Mt. Sinai’s Joey Spallina in total points and a shoo-in for All American, had a goal and 3 assists on the day.  It was up to guys like Kirchner, who is also a cross-country star, to find the twine. He was a marauder, with and without the ball, for the entire game; and perhaps the stamina he has honed as a long-distance runner paid dividends in the Hofstra Heat.

“I made good use of my endurance advantage to use today,” said Kirchner. “I love to run up on offense and back on defense and I’ve been playing with a lot of confidence as the season has gone along.”

Goalkeeper Lamendola has also played with confidence as the competition has gotten stiffer.

Port Washington launched assault after assault in a desperate attempt to slice off pieces of the Tiger lead. He made six saves in total and was effective in cutting down angles and standing tall in the face of the pressurized heat in the front of his net. Lamendola, who also starred on the Tiger football team and will study film and animation at The Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia, was very animated when the final horn sounded, as he was at the epicenter of a hugging, jumping, glove-throwing and victorious pack of Tigers. 

“We have a lot of talent on this team,” said Lamendola. “I couldn’t do it without my teammates and my coaches and of course my dad. It’s more of a mental game more than a physical in the net and Coach (Dean) Spadaro has taught every aspect of being a goalie since I was 8 years old.”

Coach Spadaro, whose son Kieran registered an assist in the game, has been coaching many of these boys since kindergarten. He knew Lamendola, who follows in the footsteps of goaltending legend Andrew Tittmann, has what it takes to succeed at this level.

“Nobody will ever outwork Luke”, said Spadaro. “Ninety percent of goaltending is between the ears and Luke is smart goalie with great instincts and I’m so happy for him and this team.”

The Tigers, who have now won 19 straight games after an opening day loss to non-conference foe Mt. Sinai, can now move on and think about their semi-final game at SUNY Albany vs. the Scarsdale Raiders who have a record of 14-7 on the year. After last summer’s L.I.C., they did not get a chance to play for a New York State title, as that tournament was not played because of the pandemic.

“Last year was phenomenal, but after the Long Island Championship game against Syosset, we had sort of an empty feeling and we wanted more,” said Cerasi. “As a group we are extremely happy to get an opportunity to play for a state championship this year.”

Cerasi and the Tigers will get it and it is now safe to pack up that bus.

By Steven Zaitz
Northport defeated Smithtown East, 16-13, in the Suffolk County Class A Boys Lacrosse Championship game in a game that took place over the course of two days.
After a flash lightning storm struck at East Islip on June 1, the game was delayed for 30 minutes with Northport leading, 6-5.  After the officials restarted the game, Northport would outscore the Bulls, 7-2, but the weather would force yet another stoppage.  The game resumed June 2 with seven and a half minutes remaining, and despite a furious flurry of goals by the Red Bulls, Northport would hang on to win their second consecutive Suffolk County title.
Marcus Wertheim scored four goals and Brandon Marz three goals for Smithtown East.  Michael Meyer and Jacob Starcke scored four each for the Tigers, and Jack Deliberti would net three. The Tigers take on Port Washington for the Class A title on Saturday at Hofstra.

It took the Comsewogue Warriors four minutes into the fourth quarter to take the first lead of the game only to have the Bulls of Smithtown West retie the game at 6-6 on the ensuing possession.

With 4 minutes, 5 seconds left on the clock, James Krieg stretched the net to edge ahead by one when Michael Katz on a defensive take away scored the insurance goal a minute later to win the Suffolk Class B boy’s lacrosse final, 8-6, at East Islip High School June 1. 

Katz scored three goals in the victory, Dylan Rocchio had two goals and an assist and teammates Brayden Arias, Thomas Kennedy and James Krieg each scored. Adam Wachholder had back-to-back saves in the closing minute for seven stops on the day. 

The win propels the Warriors to the Long Island Championship round where they’ll face Garden City at Hofstra University June 4 with a 3 p.m. start.  

By Bill Landon

It was all Mt. Sinai in the Suffolk Class C final where the No. 1 seeded Mustangs led by eight goals at the half over No. 2 seed Shoreham-Wading River and never let up to capture the County title 16-5. 

Joey Spallina reached a milestone in the win, scoring a goal to eclipse the Long Island high school record of 501 points, a combination of goals and assists, in the victory May 31 at East Islip High School.

Sophomore attack Lucas Laforge topped the scoring chart for the Mustangs with six goals and one assist and Joey Spallina had five assists and three goals for eight points. Brayden Wilcken had 11 saves in net.

The win sends the Mustangs to the Long Island Championship round at Hofstra University Saturday June 4th. Game time is 5:30 p.m. 

Photos by Bill Landon

Senior Meyer, Freshman Deliberti combine for 7 goals, Lamendola and defense shut down Devils

By Steven Zaitz

The schools are separated by about six miles. Their boys lacrosse teams — by much more.

Andrew Miller scores the second of his two third quarter goals in Northport’s semi-final win over Huntington on May 26. Photo by Steven Zaitz

The top-seeded Northport Tigers showed why they are reigning Long Island champions, as they doubled up and dominated the number four-seeded Huntington Blue Devils 12-6 on Thursday, May 26. Northport advances to the Suffolk County Championship game against the Smithtown East Bulls.

After a sleepy and goal-less first eight minutes, Northport even spotted their arch-rivals to the west a one goal lead, as Huntington’s strategy of locking up Northport’s superstar Senior Attacker Michael Meyer seemed to work — initially. But Meyer would find the key.

He exploded for four goals, all of which came in the first half, including a buzzer-beating rocket with two seconds to go before the halftime buzzer. Meyer also had assists on four other goals — a standout performance in a huge playoff game.

Freshman attacker Jack Deliberti had three goals, Jacob Starcke two goals and roving long-stick Midfielder Andrew Miller scored two in less than a minute in the third quarter that restored a five goal Tiger lead and unofficially broke the Blue Devils’ back.

Northport played their usual brand of ferocious defense, forcing Huntington to the outside and lower percentage shots and Tiger Goalkeeper Luke Lamendola registered an eye-popping 16 saves.

It was a complete team effort if there ever was one, and it enables Northport to re-visit neutral site East Islip Middle School to play Smithtown East — the very field they beat Syosset 12-11 to capture the Long Island Title last summer.

“All week in practice, we went over situations where I, or someone else, is locked off and what we were going to do,” Meyer said, who now has 43 goals on the season. “So, we ran one of the plays we worked on, and I was able to get the ball with a short stick defending me.”

He made the short stick dearly pay.

From sharp angles and small windows at which to shoot, Meyer flung balls past Huntington Goalie SammyMac Arner with deadly accuracy over the course of the first 24 minutes.

“Michael is a special player,” said Head Coach Larry Cerasi. “He does everything a coach could ask for and then some. He’s not the most ‘rah rah’ type of guy, but he leads by example and has shown some of our younger guys the way to success.”

One of those younger guys is the ninth grader Deliberti, who like Meyer, has curly brown locks of hair sticking out of the back of his helmet. He scored the first goal of the second half off of a brilliant feed from Meyer,

“When I first came up to the varsity team, I had a little bit of a chip on my shoulder, being guarded by juniors and seniors,” Deliberti said. “But Mike has really took me under his wing and has showed me how to be a varsity player.”

Michael Meyer scored four goals and assisted on four others in Northport’s semi-final win over Huntington on May 26. Photo by Steven Zaitz

Meyer was also showing everybody in attendance why he is complete superstar package.  After Huntington staged a mini-uprising and cut the Tiger lead to 7-4 midway through the third period, Meyer found Tim Kirchner in the middle of the field, who shoveled it over to Miller on the right. The junior Army-commit beat Arner from 20 yards away.  Ten seconds later, Meyer hit Miller on a beautiful diagonal pass right in front of the Devil net. Miller faked high and went low to scoop it past Arner. It made the score 9-4 with the third quarter quickly melting away. The final horn was more than a quarter away, but the game was over.

“That was a big swing right there,” Miller said. “Huntington had just pulled within three and I think it stopped their momentum.”

With a suffocating second half defense and Lamendola snuffing out anything that leaked through, the Tigers ticket to East Islip was punched.

Senior Jacob Starcke scored two in the fourth quarter and Deliberti finished the scoring when he rattled the ball off both posts and behind Arner for Tiger goal number 12. Northport had effectively taken Huntington’s Big Four attackers of Aidan McNulty, Robbie Smith, Liam Lennon and Chris Maichin out of the game with constant defensive pressure. This quartet combined for 183 total point in 2022. Also, part of the winning formula, was Tyler Kuprianchik’s customary dominance at the ‘X’. The future Penn State Nittany Lion won 71% of his faceoffs against Yale commit Anthony Annunziata. Annunziata was second to Kupianchik in faceoff winning percentage in the regular season in Suffolk I.

“Our defense is not only incredibly strong and athletic, but we are also a cerebral bunch,” said Defensive Coach and Northport alum Billy Cordts. “Quinn Reynolds and Andrew Miller are incredibly dynamic. Jack Sandrib and Jack Breckling are experienced and very strong players. Will Flynn is not flashy but does it all, plus Pat Sweeney, who is an incredible athlete. All of these guys made it a very difficult day for their best players (Smith and McNulty).”

Cordts, class of 2003, had to manage some adversity through out the course of the season. But the Tigers have proven to be extraordinarily deep in 2022.

“We lost some starters to injury and didn’t miss a beat. Dan Eagers and Jon Alfiero went down, and they are damn good players. We are all about team and we play for each other and willing to do the dirty work. That’s what enables us to dominate.”

They’ll need to do so for one more game to repeat as Suffolk County Lacrosse League A Champions — against a school that also sits about six miles away, but to the east. Will this one be more competitive? Lacrosse fan across Suffolk County are about to find out.

By Bill Landon

Comsewogue, the No. 2 seed, had its hands full in the final minute of the Class B boy’s lacrosse semifinal against its third-seeded visitor, West Islip.

Warrior goalkeeper Adam Wachholder had two clutch saves against a surging Lion attack, holding on to the lead for a 6-5 victory on May 24.  

Midfielder Justin Bonacci had two goals and two assists; senior attack Michael Katz had an assist and two goals; and teammates Thomas Kennedy and Dylan Rocchio both scored. Wachholder, a sophomore, had 11 saves in net on the day. 

The win sends Comsewogue to the Suffolk championship final, where this battle-hardened unit will face off against Smithtown West on Wednesday, June 1 at East Islip High School. 

Gametime is set for 4:30 p.m. 

— Photos by Bill Landon

 

By Bill Landon

It was the battle of the unbeaten when the Shoreham-Wading River Wildcats collided with Mount Sinai in the final game of the regular season.

Both teams faced off with perfect 15-0 records. Mount Sinai senior attack Joey Spallina did what he’s done all season, topping the scoring charts with six assists and three goals to lead his team to a 12-7 win over the Wildcats at home May 12.

The Mustangs scored two goals in the opening minutes of the game, took a 6-2 lead into the halftime break and kept their foot of the gas the entire way, never looking back as they now to sit atop the Division II leaderboard.

Mount Sinai attack Cole Marsala found the back of the cage four times. Teammates James Carretta and Jake Spallina, Joey’s younger brother, had two goals apiece. Goalie Brayden Wilcken had 11 saves in net.

Liam Kershis and Alec Gregorek both scored twice for the Wildcats and teammates Francisco Cortes, Steven Cain and Liam Gregorek, Alec’s younger brother, each scored. Keeper Jayden Galfano had 14 stops between the pipes. Both teams will be top seeds going into the postseason which begins May 17.

 

By Bill Landon

Saturday, May 7 was truly a day of remembrance for Mike Bowler, the legendary Rocky Point boy’s lacrosse coach, in the school’s second annual Mike Bowler Tribute Day. 

Bowler, who passed away in Dec. 2019, was someone who left his mark on the community throughout his 43 seasons at the helm. His impact on student athletes was felt well beyond the playing field. He established the boy’s lacrosse program in 1978, amassing more the 600 wins during his career. Bowler also led his team to a state championship in 2008.

In 2020, coach Bowler was named New York State Coach of the Year in boys lacrosse by the National Federation of High School Sports. The award is presented to those who have made the greatest impact on student athletes in their respective sport.

It was a cold, windy and wet day on Saturday, but that didn’t dampen the spirit of the game as the Eagles hosted Bellport in this Division II matchup. 

Sophomore attack Ryan Meyers had an assist and six goals to top the Eagles scoring chart in the 16-7 victory. Senior Tyler Moeller had a goal and five assists and teammate Kyle Moore had four goals and two assists for the Eagles. Eighth grader DJ Xavier had six saves in net and Aidan Donohue, a sophomore, also stopped two.

— Photos by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

The Mad Dogs of Middle Country came out snarling in their first league game of their 2022 campaign with a dominant road win against Riverhead in a 16-5 victory, April 1.  

Attackman Charlie Cavalieri split the pipes four times, one goal an acrobatic around the back no look score. Jack Cavalieri netted three goals as did Jeremy Poggi, and Colin Cleary scored twice. Aidan Eck, Collin Farrell, Justin Robbert and Joe Speziale add a goal apiece. Michael Gagliardi had six saves in net. 

The win lifts Middle Country to 1-0 in their division, 2-1 overall.  

Although the Wildcats of Shoreham-Wading River never trailed, they had their hands full holding off the Bulls of Smithtown West in a Division-II matchup at home at the Thomas Cutinella Memorial Field. Trading goals most of the way the Wildcats edged the Bulls, 11-9, April 2.

Senior midfielder Fransisco Cortes led the way for the Wildcats with four goals and three assists, and teammate Alec Gregorek netted four goals and one assist. Alec’s younger brother Liam Gregorek scored as did Tommy Palumbo and Steven Cain.

Smithtown West junior Will Fitzsimmons had two goals and two assists, Owen Ellick had an assist and three goals, and Ryan Trebing netted three.

The win lifts Shoreham-Wading River to 2-0 in the early going and Smithtown West is 1-1, 3-1 overall. 

Both teams retake the field April 5 when the Wildcats hit the road with a game against Harborfields as Smithtown West travels to West Babylon. Both games face off at 5 p.m.