MEDFORD — During a 34-second span late in the fourth quarter, the Riverhead High School boys lacrosse team looked invincible. The Blue Waves could do very little wrong as they scored three unanswered goals.
The problem was that for just about the remaining 47 minutes of the Suffolk County Division I encounter, the Blue Waves looked rather less than ordinary, dropping a 9-6 loss to the Patchogue-Medford Raiders on a cold and rainy Tuesday afternoon.
The final score flattered the Blue Waves (1-6, 1-5), who got off to a decent start. But poor shooting, the inability to take advantage of extra-man situations and some sloppy play doomed their chances of walking off the field with a victory.
Riverhead Coach Vic Guadagnino chewed out his team after the game. He would not talk to the media.
“Not now,” he said. “Not after a loss.”
One certainly could not blame him after his team’s performance.
The Blue Waves failed to score in the second and third quarters and went 26 minutes 7 seconds without a goal, from the first of Charles Bartlett’s two goals with 1:58 left in the first period to the first of Mario Carrera’s two goals nine seconds into the fourth quarter. By then, the Raiders (2-4, 1-3) had turned a 3-2 edge into a healthy 9-3 advantage.
Raiders Coach Steve Mollot did talk. He realized his team was far from perfect, but he would take the victory, nonetheless.
“It was a win,” he said.
“It was huge,” added senior attackman Kyle Stockton, who scored twice along with Chris Reece and Scott Reece to pace the Raiders. “Actually. we’re coming off an 0-3 start. To win this game and get into the playoffs is really a key. We need to step up our game and start playing sharp as a team. It was a good victory.”
The Blue Waves found themselves with at least one extra man 11 times, but could not find the back of the net. In fact, the Blue Waves twice had a two-man advantage, but could not convert.
“They’re very well-coached,” Mollot said. “They understand the concepts of what we’re trying to accomplish a man down. Our goalie [Matt Warnken], he’s solid. He made some nice saves for us. We’re O.K. man down. We can move the ball. The stick work is not bad. We’re just not game savvy.”
“That’s our defense right there,” he said. “They’re just hard working. They come out there and practice every day and they go hard. They make me a better player.”
Riverhead goalie Cody Haas certainly was up to the task, making 14 saves, including an impressive stop of Scott Reece, who was denied in his attempt to convert a two-on-one break with six seconds remaining in the first half.
At the time, the Raiders enjoyed a 5-2 lead. But the big save did not spur the visitors on in the third quarter. Patchogue-Medford outscored them, 4-0, during that 12-minute quarter.
“Coming out in the second half and scoring two quick goals on them, I think that was the turning point,” said Stockton.
The Blue Waves made things interesting at the end. Trailing by 9-3 with the minutes ticking away, they made a valiant comeback attempt with backup Nick Mallard in the net for Warnken.
First, Michael Curaba struck with 2:51 left. Then Bartlett tallied 22 seconds later before Carrera connected to make it 9-6 with 2:17 remaining.
Mallard was replaced by Warnken, who re-entered the game and finished with 20 saves.
“We had plenty of opportunities to score goals,” Mollot said. “We couldn’t capitalize on some of the opportunities and we let them back in at the end. We tried to substitute and put some of our backups in. That’s why they are backups.”
Patchogue-Medford managed to get out of the rest of the game in one piece.
“It feels good,” Stockton said. “We need to start playing as a team. We had a couple of close ones against East Islip and Bay Shore that we should have played more like a team. But it’s all right.”