GOLDEN FLASHES 8, WILDCATS 7 (OT)
It sounds so simple. Hold the ball, run out the clock and win the game.
Of course, when the other team is doing everything in its power to disrupt that, it’s not always quite as easy.
Clinging to a one-goal lead with 1:49 left at home against Sayville Thursday afternoon, the Shoreham-Wading River Wildcats couldn’t maintain possession as they looked to run the clock down. The Golden Flashes netted an equalizer with 54 seconds left after the Wildcats turned the ball over and then won the game in overtime, 8-7, to hand Shoreham its first loss of the season.
“I don’t know what to say, we had the game won,” said Shoreham coach Tom Rotanz. “We couldn’t hold onto the ball.”
In a back-and-forth game that was never separated by more than one goal, the Wildcats (4-1 Division II) grabbed their first lead since the opening minute of the second half with 5:46 left in the fourth quarter when junior Tim Rotanz drilled a shot from straightaway for his game-high fourth goal.
With over two minutes left the Wildcats’ defense delivered a huge stop and they cleared the ball before calling timeout with 1:49 left. The Wildcats went into their stall, a play they often practice, Rotanz said. The referee immediately raised his fist, signaling a stall warning, which meant the Wildcats had to keep the ball inside the box.
Sayville’s goalkeeper came charging out of the next as an extra defender and the Golden Flashes swarmed the ball. A triple team of Sayville defenders quickly forced Shoreham outside the box with 1:26 left, giving possession back to the Flashes.
Zach Sirico tied the game for Sayville with an explosive jump shot as he darted across the middle from the left to right, beating Shoreham goalkeeper Tyler Lutjen. Sirico led Sayville (5-1, 4-1 Division II) with two goals and two assists.
The Wildcats won the ensuing face-off after Rotanz scooped the ground ball. They couldn’t score, so the game went to overtime.
Sayville gained possession to start the four-minute extra session. The Wildcats momentarily forced a turnover, but quickly coughed it back up, which allowed the Flashes to get in transition and convert with the defense out of position.
Siricio spun in front of the goal and passed to his right to an open Andrew Gonzalez, who punched in the game-winning goal.
“Once you go unsettled, anything can happen,” Rotanz said. “They found the open guy.”
Whenever these two teams face off, odds are it will end in a one-goal game. The Wildcats won twice against the Flashes last year by the score of 9-8, including in the first round of the playoffs. Since 2008, six of the seven games they’ve played have been decided by one goal. In 2009 it was Sayville that won twice, both by 9-8 scores.
This year, though, there will be no rematch. The Wildcats bumped back down to Class C while the Flashes remain a Class B school.
“The way we played today, it doesn’t matter who we play,” Rotanz said.
The Wildcats got a typically strong performance from their All-American, Tim Rotanz. He added two assists to go with his four goals. He played all over the field and contributed on defense. While Tim has mostly played attack in his career, Tom Rotanz said he’s used him on defense at times last year as well.
Against Sayville, he even switched to a long-pole on man-down situations.
“It’s a small school and you put whatever you can to win,” Tom Rotanz said. “It’d be nice if we didn’t have to. You could see how gassed he was.”
The Wildcats got two goals and two assists from junior Dan Malave, who recently returned to the lineup after being out with a thigh bruise.
“He’s back, so that’s huge for us,” Rotanz said.
Malave tied the game at 6 when he scored off a feed from senior Trevor Brosco, who had one goal, early in the fourth quarter.
Before the Flashes tied the game in the final minute, the Wildcats had only given up one goal over the previous 20 minutes. Lutjen was strong between the pipes with 13 saves.
The Wildcats took a 4-3 lead into halftime. But in the third quarter penalties began to pile up, disrupting the Wildcats’ offensive flow. Sayville tied the game 22 seconds into the third on a man advantage. The Flashes then took the lead a minute later with the Wildcats on a man advantage.
Shoreham finished with six penalties in the game compared to two for Sayville.
The Wildcats return to action Monday at John Glenn, a team they could potentially face in the playoffs.