WILDCATS 22, EAGLES 9
The goals came quick and often, from shots in close and far, from starters and backups.
By the time Shoreham-Wading River’s senior day game against Rocky Point came to an end Tuesday, the Wildcats had tallied a season-high 22 goals.
The Eagles, the nearby rivals to the west, never stood a chance against the fast-paced Wildcats, who had the ball in the back of the net before the defense could blink.
“If you permit them to get into transition, they’re going to kill you,” said longtime Rocky Point coach Mike Bowler.
The Wildcats used their transition game to perfection, running away with a 22-9 victory in the final regular season home game. Shoreham will travel to Huntington Saturday and then East Hampton May 12 to close out the regular season before the playoffs begin.
Nine different players scored for Shoreham. On senior day, it was mostly the underclassmen who did most of the goal scoring. Juniors Jason Curran and Jon Constant scored five goals each and sophomore Chris Gray added four.
“I want us to push the tempo when we have the opportunity,” said Shoreham coach Mike Taylor. “We have a tremendous amount of speed and guys with good skill. The attackman move the ball very well and they look for each other.”
The game was close early. Shoreham led 4-3 in the final seconds of the first quarter when senior Ryan Bray sliced through traffic and fired a shot for a goal with three seconds left to make it 5-3. It was the third goal of the quarter for Bray, who finished with four.
The Wildcats came out rolling in the second quarter and the lead quickly ballooned to 9-3. From behind the cage, Gray fed a pass in front to Constant who scored with 7:51 left to give Shoreham its ninth goal.
“The attackman, if they get a little space, can make things happen,” Taylor said. “They’re crafty players. They’ve been playing together since kindergarten. They have the chemistry.”
If there was one fear Taylor had coming into this season, he said it was the lack of varsity experience the attackman had. Even with all their success this season, the inexperience still shows at times.
Early in the game, one player caught a feed in front of the goal and attempted an over-the-shoulder, no-look shot. From the sideline, Taylor immediately reminded his players to stick to the fundamentals.
“That’s a young attackman doing something where he just had to turn and score,” Taylor said. “Instead, he was panicking. You rely on your fundamentals. Your fundamentals are going to get you through the big moments of a game.”
At 12-1, the Wildcats are in position to win the first-ever League III title with two more wins. This is the first year of the four-league system as opposed to two divisions where teams were sorted by power rankings.
The Wildcats won their 10th straight game and Shoreham has now scored double-figures in every game but one. Their lone loss was one month ago against Mount Sinai, 6-5.
“It’s their transition game that makes them almost unstoppable,” Bowler said. “If you watch all their games, that’s how they do it.”
The goals came in all kinds of ways for the Wildcats against the Eagles. On one play, Rocky Point’s goalkeeper made an initial save, and the ball landed near his feet in the crease. Bray, one of the team’s 13 seniors, alertly poked his stick in without stepping into the crease and nudged the ball into the cage.
It was that kind of afternoon for Shoreham.