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Shoreham-Wading River

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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 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.”

Wildcats will look to redeem last-season loss to Sayville on June 1 at Stony Brook Unviersity

Fans rushed onto the Thomas Cutinella Memorial Field to celebrate with the victors on Thursday, and as the students piled up on top of the No. 2-seeded Shoreham-Wading River boys’ lacrosse team, the Wildcats felt the rush of the 8-4 comeback win they took part in that is sending them into the Class B finals.

For Kevin Cutinella, the win was meaningful in more ways than one.

“Since it was on our home field — the Tom Cutinella Memorial Field — it’s significant,” he said. “It feels good.”

The junior midfielder, younger brother of the student-athlete who died following a head-on collision in a football game in late 2014, had scored the game-winning goal in the Class B quarterfinals against Eastport-South Manor with 1:49 left in regulation. This time, he also scored what would be the game-winning goal against Comsewogue High School, when he received a feed with an open look on the left side of the cage, and sent the ball into the netting to get the Wildcats past the round that held them back last season.

“It felt good,” he said of the goal as his face lit up. “You can’t think up things like that. I put myself in the right spot at the right time and executed.”

Cutinella also fired the first shot of the game, which went off the post with 2:58 left in the first quarter. Comsewogue came prepared though, knowing their opponent’s plays and blocking key players to keep them distant. Senior Warrior goalkeeper Jake MacGregor made it that much more difficult for the Wildcats, blocking all attempts in the quarter.

Shoreham-Wading River junior attack Chris Gray finally found a way to score when he swiveled around the back of the cage and dumped the ball into the top right corner. But Comsewogue junior Will Snelders had a quick response, whipping a diagonal strike in from 20 yards out, as the Warriors were running into trouble getting close to the crease.

“We need to work hard — whistle to whistle. They’re not going to back down; they’re going to fight.”

Shoreham-Wading River senior midfielder Jason Curran received a pass on a fast break and beat out MacGregor for a 2-1 advantage, but Comsewogue responded when senior midfielder Trevor Kennedy rocketed a shot from 15 yards away to tie it up.

The Warriors try to pull away from there. With 3:14 left in the half, Snelders took the ball from behind the cage and scored and, with eight seconds left, sophomore Richie Lacalandra found an open shot off a feed from senior midfielder and attack Brandon O’Donoghue for a 4-2 halftime lead.

The Warriors defense was holding down the fort and the offense was connecting on turnovers and finding its groove. But head coach Pete Mitchell told his team at halftime that he knew the win wasn’t going to be that easy.

“Take advantage of the tendencies we see in film,” he said. “We need to work hard — whistle to whistle. They’re not going to back down; they’re going to fight.”

And fight they did.

Shoreham-Wading River head coach Mike Taylor said the Warriors did something his team wasn’t prepared for — locking in Curran. So the team made adjustments to work around the blocks.

Gray scored to pull the team within one less than two minutes into the third, and although MacGregor made a save, so did Shoreham-Wading River senior goalkeeper Jimmy Puckey, who ended up shutting out the Comsewogue offense in the second half.

“We settled down and started playing as a team, and when we start playing like a team no one can stop us,” Puckey said. “I felt good once I had the first few stops under my belt. I had a rough one in the second quarter but then the defense and I locked it down the rest of the game.”

Junior attack Jon Constant tied it up a minute and a half into the fourth quarter, and with 4:44 left on the clock was when Cutinella scored the game winner.

“When we start playing like a team no one can stop us.”

“We tried to force it too early and just paced ourselves in the second half,” Cutinella said. “Patience is key.”

Shoreham-Wading River junior Joe Miller winning a majority of the faceoffs was also key to the team’s comeback, but what Taylor credits above all is how far the team has come since its overtime loss in the semifinals last year, after an undefeated season.

“Most of the kids had never played varsity before and they didn’t have any playoff experience, so they got into that game and the pressure got to them,” he said. “They’re acting like savvy veterans now, so when the pressure was on, they didn’t feel it. They kept it together and got back in the game. I think the loss last year was painful, but it’s probably part of why we are where we are today.”

Now, the Wildcats are ready for redemption.

Shoreham-Wading River will take on the No. 4 Sayville, which upset No. 1 Bayport-Blue Point, on June 1 at Stony Brook University at 3 p.m.

“I believe in every one of us,” Cutinella said. “This is our year.”

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Richie Lacalandra encounters resistance looking for the cutter in Comsewogue's 12-4 quarterfinal victory over Westhampton Beach. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Will Snelders won the battle for the Warriors.

The Comsewogue boys’ lacrosse junior attackman scored seven goals as his team blew out Westhampton Beach, 12-4, on its home field in the opening round of the Division II Class B playoffs Saturday afternoon.

Snelders scored early and often, and broke the ice five minutes in for the 1-0 lead. Then, he received a feed from senior midfielder and attack Brandon O’Donoghue, and drilled his shot home.

Will Snelders is sandwiched while sending home his seventh goal of the game. Photo by Bill Landon
Will Snelders is sandwiched while sending home his seventh goal of the game. Photo by Bill Landon

Westhampton scored the next two goals to make it a new game heading into the second stanza. Eventually, the Warriors breathed new life into the game. This time, senior midfielder John Koebel’s shot found the cage with 5:20 left in the first half, to put his team back in front.

And Comsewogue never looked back.

“It was hard work — we definitely came out hard,” said Koebel, who’s headed to Endicott College in Massachusetts to play lacrosse next year. “We had a lot of momentum coming in. A lot of people underestimated us this year. Will Snelders scoring seven goals … I have to thank him.”

Junior midfielder and attack Ryan Dorney’s stick spoke next as he took a feed from O’Donoghue and capitalized on his opportunity. From behind the net, senior midfielder Trevor Kennedy flicked the ball to an open Snelders in front of the cage, who startled the goalie by rocketing in his hat trick goal for a 5-2 advantage heading into the halftime break.

“It was not easy — they’re a tough team, they’ve got a lot of speed,” said Kennedy, who is headed to Assumption College in Massachusetts next season. “They were good, but we fought back.”

Westhampton scored three minutes into the third quarter to stop the bleeding briefly, but Snelders answered to maintain the three-goal lead , and scored the final goal of the stanza during a broken play with 52 seconds left.

Ryan Dorney scores off a feed from Brandon O'Donoghue. Photo by Bill Landon
Ryan Dorney scores off a feed from Brandon O’Donoghue. Photo by Bill Landon

Comsewogue faceoff specialist Kevin Tiedemann, a junior, owned the faceoff ‘X,’ going 16-for-21 to give the Hurricanes little opportunity to rally back.

In desperation, the Westhampton goalie yelled to his defensemen: “I know you’re all tired, but you can’t back off.”

But Snelders was first to find the back of the net with 9:15 left in the final quarter, when he fired at a small opening and split the pipes for his sixth goal of the game.

“We weren’t very confident coming into today’s game, but once we reached the half, we knew we were going to keep rolling,” Snelders said.

The junior attack scored his seventh goal with 6:15 left on the clock, and a minute later, Dorney dished the ball to sophomore attack Richie Lacalandra for a seven-goal advantage.

“It was a lot of hard work this week — we put a lot of effort in, we studied a lot of film, we prepared and we came out on top,” Dorney said. “We knew we had it with Will’s fourth or fifth goal. He sealed the deal. The kid was hot today, and we were able to finish.”

John Koebel gets pushed out of the box behind the cage. Photo by Bill Landon
John Koebel gets pushed out of the box behind the cage. Photo by Bill Landon

Lacalandra scored the team’s six straight goal, and Comsewogue head coach Pete Mitchell barked from the sideline: “Richie, we’re red unless they push,” as the Warriors played keepaway to tick time off the clock. With 1:38 left to play, Mitchell saw an opportunity to extend the lead, and yelled, “Richie you’re green,” signaling for the sophomore to take a shot. With that, Lacalandra fired, and scored the final point for his team, which was also his hat trick goal.

“Our faceoff was the game changer — Kevin Tiedemann came into the game focused,” Lacalandra said. “And our wing guys Matt [Fernandez] and Trevor [Kennedy] got to a lot of ground balls for us today.”

With time running out, the Hurricanes managed one final score before their season came to an end.

With the win, Comsewogue will face No. 2 Shoreham-Wading River in the semifinals on the road on Thursday, with the opening faceoff scheduled for 4 p.m.

“They’re a very talented team, so it all comes down to the matchup,” Mitchell said of his team’s next opponent. “The last time we faced them, we lost 4-3 in double overtime, so the boys are going to be ready. It’s going to be a great game for Suffolk County lacrosse.”

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Mustangs score five unanswered goals in second half to secure 6-5 win over Shoreham

Mount Sinai teammates huddle around Meaghan Tyrrell after she scores what would be the game-winning goal. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Mount Sinai’s motto this season has been “proving people wrong.”

And again, the girls’ lacrosse team did just that. Despite being down 5-1 at halftime, the Mustangs rallied back to score five unanswered goals en route to a 6-5 win over Shoreham-Wading River in the game’s final minutes Monday.

Mount Sinai's Caroline Hoeg scores over Shoreham's Sophia Triandafils. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Mount Sinai’s Caroline Hoeg scores over Shoreham’s Sophia Triandafils. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“It was a great turnaround,” Mount Sinai head coach Al Bertolone said. “Everything that you wanted to have happen in the first half happened in the second half. It was the way I thought we could play.”

But the girls came out flat.

While the Mustangs had trouble getting started, the Wildcats were off to the races. Isabella Meli and Erin Triandafils tacked on two goals each, and Mikayla Dwyer scored once while Jesse Arline assisted twice, to put Shoreham up 5-0.

With 3:28 left in the first half, Mount Sinai senior midfielder Caroline Hoeg dodged opponents as she made her way up the middle and scored unassisted to break the ice for her team.

“I think we started off rocky, but we came out at halftime and knew what we had to do,” she said. “Everyone knew they had to play for the girl next to them and we played our hearts out.”

Mount Sinai's Camryn Harloff reaches between Shoreham defenders for the loss ball. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Mount Sinai’s Camryn Harloff reaches between Shoreham defenders for the loss ball. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Hoeg helped win possession off the draw to open the second, and from the left side of the cage, passed to junior midfielder Lisa Nonnenmann who scored through traffic up top.

“It’s a gut-check time,” Bertolone said of his team being down. “I told them, ‘are we just going to let someone come in and push us around? Are we going to respond?’ And they did.”

At the 11:12 mark, sophomore attack Meaghan Tyrrell took matters into her own hands when she swiveled around the back of the cage and fired a shot across the front of the net to the far left side. Minutes later, she passed the ball to Hoeg up the middle, who beat out defenders and bounced in a shot that close the gap, 5-4.

“At halftime, our coach was pep-talking us and our captains were great,” she said. “When we came out we knew we had to win the draws to come back, so that was our motive.”

Bertolone called for a timeout and before sending his team back onto the field, the girls shouted “heart,” and continued to play with a lot of it.

The Mustangs won possession off the next draw, and although Nonnenmann had a free position shot soon after, she failed to capitalize. At 3:50, she got another shot, and made it count, tying the game 5-5.

Mount Sinai's Erica Shea makes her way around Shoreham's Isabella Cortes. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Mount Sinai’s Erica Shea makes her way around Shoreham’s Isabella Cortes. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“It was nerve-wracking but we’ve been working really hard this season and it was just great to get out there after we dug ourselves into a little bit of a hole to really work all together, settle the ball and pull it out,” she said. “I think we practice more than anyone else around, we get down to business and it helps us get the job done.”

With 2:06 left on the clock, the Mustangs proved that hard work pays off. From outside, Hoeg passed to Tyrrell at the front of the net, who bounced a shot into the open right side after a goalkeeper misstep, for the 6-5 lead.

“Caroline knew I was open, she knew that was the play, and I saw the goalie’s stick come out and I thought she was going to save it, but I got in there, went around her and shot,” she said. “It was very nerve-racking, but it also felt really great.”

Bertolone called for another timeout, and told his team, “You don’t want to lose this after coming all the way back. We need to win this draw.”

The Mustangs won the draw, and despite turning the ball over, forced a turnover and held the ball until time expired.

Mount Sinais' Leah Nonnenmann makes her way to the cage ahead of Shoreham's Erin Triandafils and Megan Daly. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Mount Sinais’ Leah Nonnenmann makes her way to the cage ahead of Shoreham’s Erin Triandafils and Megan Daly. Photo by Desirée Keegan

The 2015 state championship-winning team is hoping to get back to Cortland this year, and the team’s resiliency may take them there.

“We practice for days like this,” Hoeg said. “This is what we have to do if we want to get to the next level and we want to get back upstate. We knew that we all had to come together and show people that we can come back from losing our top players and prove people wrong. That was the motto this year — coming out and doing what people think we cant.”

Shoreham catcher Melissa Marchese tags out Comsewogue's Patricia Kelly. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Comsewogue may have led Shoreham-Wading River 5-0 after the first inning, but the Wildcats came back blow the game open in the bottom of the fourth inning, en route to a 21-9 nonleague win Saturday afternoon.

Shoreham's Joy Papagianopoulos connects for a deep shot. Photo by Bill Landon
Shoreham’s Joy Papagianopoulos connects for a deep shot. Photo by Bill Landon

The Warriors (4-2 in League V), fresh off their win over Westhampton Beach, didn’t have their ace pitcher Alexa Murray available to start the game, although she came in for relief, and spread pitching duties across three different hurlers.

Comsewogue junior Dominique Bailey drove in two runs, and Murray followed with a three-run homerun to jump out to a 5-0 lead to open the game.

“We trailed 5-0 after that first inning, but we’re a hitting team,” Shoreham senior Shelby Curtin said. “We all have the capability, so I told the girls we all have to hit the ball .It’s what we do — go out there and show them that we can hit the ball just as well as they do.”

Curtin homered over the centerfield fence, driving in freshman Joy Papagianopoulos to close the gap. Comsewogue scored twice more when sophomore Emily Whitman drove in two in the top of the third, to edge ahead 7-2.

Shoreham (2-3 in League VI) answered next when a crack of freshman Melissa Marchese’s bat drove the ball over the fence for a solo shot to help her team trail by four. Next, it was sophomore Katherine Opiela’s turn, and she ripped a shot deep to right field, plating Curtin and junior Lindsey McKenna to cut the Warriors’ lead to 7-5. Sophomore Victoria Coman kept the rally alive as she belted one through the infield, scoring Opiela, to make it a one-run game before the inning was over.

Right-hander Alexa Murray hurls a pitch from the mound in relief for Comsewogue. Photo by Bill Landon
Right-hander Alexa Murray hurls a pitch from the mound in relief for Comsewogue. Photo by Bill Landon

The Wildcats, with a stout defensive effort, retired the Warriors in order to begin the bottom of the fourth. The Wildcats had a marathon inning, lighting up the scoreboard with 11 runs, led by Marchese, who had three RBIs, followed by Curtin and sophomore Olivia Baudo, who had two RBIs apiece.

“They’re very good defensively — every time we hit the ball they caught it,” Comsewogue’s Murray said. “We’ll have to forget this game and get ready for John Glenn.”

Coman and Opiela also helped plate runners, as the Comsewogue pitcher walked in two runs with the bases loaded.

“It’s a long season with 20 games, so sometimes you have to lose a battle to win the war, and that war is the county championship,” Comsewogue head coach Jason Surdi said. “We were unwilling to use our No. 1 pitcher today because today’s game doesn’t count towards the playoffs, so we had to throw a couple of girls out there who typically don’t pitch.”

The Warriors trailed 17-7 to open the fifth inning, and pecked away at the deficit when Whitman’s bat cracked again, driving in junior Lauren Ehrhard and sophomore Julia Keller to make it an eight-run game.

“They can hit the ball, and they did that today,” Whitman said of Shoreham. “We’ll have to let this go.”

Shoreham’s Coman answered next with a RBI-single, bringing home Opiela, and was followed by Papagianopoulos, who took a pitch on a full count to draw the walk with the bases loaded, forcing in a run. Marchese had a busy day at the plate, and remained consistent when she jumped on a pitch for a deep shot to right field, plating Coman and freshman Kaitlyn McGiuney to break out to a 21-9 advantage.

Shoreham first baseman Shelby Curtin catches the ball. Photo by Bill Landon
Shoreham first baseman Shelby Curtin catches the ball. Photo by Bill Landon

Shoreham-Wading River head coach John King liked what he saw, and was especially pleased with his team’s performance at the plate.

“The girls did a nice job of hitting — we’re a very good hitting team,” King said. “They rested their starting pitcher, as we did, and sometimes the other teams are just on your pitcher, so we had to bring in our regular starting pitcher [Coman], and she did a nice job.”

Marchese triggered the mercy rule, so leading by 12 runs after five innings, her Wildcats were awarded the win.

“We played really well today, we kept it together, and it was a great team effort,” Marchese said. “We made a few errors, but we picked each other up. We can’t look at anyone’s record, we just have to come out and play as hard as we can.”

The Wildcats host Westhampton Beach on Monday at 4 p.m., and Bayport-Blue Point on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m., before hitting the road on Thursday to take on Miller Place. Comsewogue faces Elwood-John Glenn at home on Monday with the first pitch scheduled for 4:30 p.m., before traveling to Rocky Point for a 4 p.m. game on Wednesday.

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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.”

Tom Rotanz poses for a photo with a gold medal and trophy after the U-19 team he was an assistant coach of won a world championship. Photo from Tom Rotanz

A familiar face is stepping onto the college lacrosse scene.

Tom Rotanz, a former head boys’ lacrosse coach for Shoreham-Wading River for 18 years, will helm St. Joseph’s College’s new men’s lacrosse program, which will begin its first season in spring 2017.

“It’s something I always wanted to do,” Rotanz said of joining the college ranks. “I think any competitive athlete and coach wants to show someone what good can come from having the right people around you and the good players that are willing to commit themselves, and I hope to have another successful tenure at St. Joseph’s.”

Tom Rotanz will be the first head coach for St. Joseph's College's men's lacrosse program. Photo from Tom Rotanz
Tom Rotanz will be the first head coach for St. Joseph’s College’s men’s lacrosse program. Photo from Tom Rotanz

Rotanz has a long history with lacrosse.

His elder brother was on the team that won Ward Melville’s first Long Island championship in 1974, and the younger Rotanz was part of the squad that won the second and third in 1976 and 1977. The lacrosse captain earned All-American honors as a senior in 1977, after his team also made it to the New York State championship game, the first one for lacrosse. The boys lost that game, 12-11.

From there, he was the captain of the Suffolk County Community College lacrosse team that won a national championship and earned All-American honors twice. He then repeated that feat at Adelphi University, where he was also named an All-American twice.

“Tom was a great player,” said his former high school coach, and a legend on the lacrosse scene, Joe Cuozzo. “He was a great competitor, had a great sense of humor about him, and I really enjoyed working with him.”

As a coach himself, with the Shoreham-Wading River Wildcats’ program only a year old, Rotanz took over a roster of 14 players, including six freshmen. The team went 1-15 his first season, scoring 38 goals on the year. But seven years later, the team was ranked fourth in the country, after winning a New York State championship and scoring close to 400 goals.

“It snowballed into something that was really neat to be a part of,” he said. “In the last 13 years I was there, we won 10 county championships, five Long Island and three New York State. People always wondered why or how we kept winning every year and being ranked one or two in the county. I say if you have bright kids that buy into the system, I think anything is possible.”

Tom Rotanz gets water dumped on his head by a former Shoreham-Wading River team after a win. Photo from Tom Rotanz
Tom Rotanz gets water dumped on his head by a former Shoreham-Wading River team after a win. Photo from Tom Rotanz

Rotanz earned his first of six Suffolk County Coach of the Year honors in 1999, two years before he led the program to its first county championship in 2001. In 2002, the program repeated as Suffolk champs en route to Long Island and New York State titles. The team also swept Suffolk, Long Island and New York State championship titles in 2007 and 2012.

In 2012, the coach added to his list of accolades, serving as an assistant for the 2012 USA Men’s U-19 lacrosse team that won a world championship.

Now, he hopes to be able to bring that same success to St. Joseph’s, and Shantey Hill, assistant vice president and senior director of athletics and recreation for the college, thinks Rotanz is the perfect fit.

“We were very lucky in that Coach Rotanz applied,” she said, referring to the school’s intensive, national search across all NCAA institutions. “He has a plethora of experience, and … he knows the landscape of Long Island, and he’s very well-connected with his peers to be able to do good recruiting for what we’re looking for.”

For Rotanz, being on the scene as long as he has and being a part of Long Island lacrosse, serving as an assistant coach at Smithtown West for the last two years, will be beneficial throughout the recruiting process for the Golden Eagles.

“I’m very close friends with a lot of the Suffolk and Nassau coaches, so they’re already contacting me with players that they think will be a great fit, kids that they think would really like to play for me; so that’s the neat thing.”

He added, laughing, “I think there will be a lot more kids that think about not leaving the Island now, hopefully.”

Tom Rotanz makes a save during a Ward Melville boys' lacrosse game. He helped the team to two Long Island championship titles and a New York State championship appearance. Photo from Tom Rotanz
Tom Rotanz makes a save during a Ward Melville boys’ lacrosse game. He helped the team to two Long Island championship titles and a New York State championship appearance. Photo from Tom Rotanz

According to Hill, the school decided the time was right for a lacrosse program after seeing that a number of Division III student-athletes in the college’s Skyline Conference that commit to play lacrosse come from Long Island and that there was interest with incoming and current students. The college also built a new outdoor athletic facility.

Hill said St. Joseph’s found the right coach in Rotanz.

“We think we hit a home run with coach Rotanz,” she said. “He’s not only a wonderful coach, but also a great man, and he will do great things. We’re looking forward to him not only being the face of the lacrosse program, but also being a mentor to our male student-athletes. His tenure speaks for itself. He’s very well-connected, and he has good relationships with lots of people, and that’s something you can’t put a price tag on.”

Cuozzo, who was inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame, said he used to go to Shoreham-Wading River practices and games to watch his former athlete, and has been thrilled with his approach to the game.

“The way he treats kids, he’s a real student of the game, and I can’t say enough on how proud I am of his accomplishments,” he said. “He brings a winning attitude.”

Rotanz, who said he tries to emulate the ways and successes of his former coach, is competitive, according to Cuozzo.

“He hates to lose — I think he got that from me,” he said, laughing. “I wasn’t a very good loser.”

Luckily, neither one of them has had to do much of that.

Tom Rotanz coaches from the sidelines of a Shoreham-Wading River boys' lacrosse game. Photo from Tom Rotanz
Tom Rotanz coaches from the sidelines of a Shoreham-Wading River boys’ lacrosse game. Photo from Tom Rotanz

Cuozzo compiled a 699-73 record while at the helm of the Patriots’ program. In 2007, he became the head coach at Mount Sinai, where he brought his win total to 747 in his four years before retirement. During his tenure with the Wildcats, Rotanz amassed a 256-99 record.

Cuozzo also thinks Rotanz will be able to draw athletes to the school.

“A lot of kids like to leave Long Island when they are finished with high school — they don’t want to stay local — but knowing Tom, he’s very convincing,” Cuozzo said. “He’ll do his homework. He’ll go out and scout, he’ll go to high school games and he’ll talk, make phone calls. He’s very organized, he’s very knowledgeable about the game, and there’s no doubt in my mind that he’s going to be successful there.”

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Mackenzie Zajac makes her way to the basket in Shoreham-Wading River's 51-30 loss to Hampton Bays. Photo by Desirée Keegan

The Shoreham-Wading River girls’ basketball team struggled to recover after an 11-0 start by its opponent as the Wildcats fell to Hampton Bays, 51-30, in their first League VI loss Tuesday.

“Being down 11-0 was a problem,” Shoreham-Wading River head coach Adam Lievre said. “We talked a little bit about that before the game — I don’t know if I jinxed us — but we played hard. Offensively, at times, we struggled to score, and against a team that can shoot the ball well from the outside, it’s hard for us to trade missed layups for them to get open threes.”

Mikayla Dwyer maintains possession with a Hampton Bays defender on her hip in the Wildcats' 51-30 loss on Jan. 5. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Mikayla Dwyer maintains possession with a Hampton Bays defender on her hip in the Wildcats’ 51-30 loss on Jan. 5. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Shoreham-Wading River sophomore guard Mikayla Dwyer put the Wildcats’ first points on the board, and junior forward Lindsey McKenna followed right behind her. Dwyer was fouled heading to the basket after her team forced a turnover, and she sank her first free-throw attempt to cut the deficit, 11-5.

The Baymen went on another tare, this time scoring six straight points, before McKenna scored another field goal. Hampton Bays countered with a field goal of its own, and added a long field goal at the buzzer to bring the score to 22-7.

“Execution is hard,” Lievre said. “We do as much as we can, and sometimes they fall and sometimes they don’t. Tonight was a night where, early on, in the first couple of minutes, they didn’t fall, and it led to a hole that we just couldn’t recover from.”

The hole continued to grow, despite junior guard Jesse Arline coming off the bench to score half of the team’s points in the second stanza, with a long field goal and a three-pointer. At the end of the eight minutes, the Wildcats fell behind 38-17.

“We just need to strategize, but there’s no problem with effort,” Arline said. “We tried really hard and we did a good job. I think movement of the ball was really good. Some of our shots weren’t landing, but you need to play fast against a team like that.”

Lievre said he agreed that despite the loss, he’s never had a problem with his girls giving him their all.

“My girls always play hard until the very end,” he said. “We never have to question effort or intensity, we just have to execute offensively. I never have to worry about them putting everything into a game, because they will — they’ll battle no matter what the score is, good or bad.”

McKenna led the team with six points on the evening, Arline and Dwyer tacked on five apiece, junior forward Maddy Bottari and junior forward Sophie Triandafils finished with four each, junior guard Mackenzie Zajac added three, and junior guard Sam Higgins and junior forward Maria Smith rounded out the scoring with two points and one point, respectively.

Jesse Arline dribbles the ball into Hampton Bays’ zone in the Wildcats' 51-30 loss on Jan. 5. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Jesse Arline dribbles the ball into Hampton Bays’ zone in the Wildcats’ 51-30 loss on Jan. 5. Photo by Desirée Keegan

The Wildcats were off to a 3-0 start in the league before the loss. The head coach said that although the team is halfway to the playoffs wins-wise, they still have some tough competition ahead when they travel to Elwood-John Glenn tomorrow at 4:15 p.m., and then host Mount Sinai on Tuesday at 4 p.m.

Arline said her team would recover from the loss and use it to fuel them for their upcoming league matchups.

“We lost, and we’ll take it as a learning experience,” she said. “We’ll put what we’ve learned here into the game ahead. We try to keep a game-to-game mindset, so we’re just worried about the next opponent.”

Lievre also thinks his team will be more prepared moving forward. He liked some of what he saw, and hopes that if his team can execute, they’ll have a better shot of remaining in games against tough opponents.

“There were a lot of good looks and good shots I’d like to repeat again, we’ve just got to hope next time that they fall for us,” he said. “It’s one game; we’ll regroup and move on.”