CLASS B SEMIFINALS | GOLDEN FLASHES 12, WILDCATS 11 (OT)
There was an undeniable feeling from the early moments of the season, beginning with a dominant opener against Harborfields, to a win over Miller Place and a string of blowout victories toward the end, that Shoreham-Wading River lacrosse was back.
The up-and-down season a year ago gave way to stability under new coach Mike Taylor. And the focus was squared back where it belonged: on playing lacrosse.
As the League III champions, the No. 1 seed in Class B, and the winners of 12 straight games, the Wildcats appeared primed for another deep run into the postseason as they took the field Thursday afternoon at Shoreham-Wading River High School.
It was a chance to avenge a brutal loss in the playoffs from a year ago against Sayville and to do it on their home field.
In the playoffs, though, there are no guarantees.
Once again, the Golden Flashes stunned Shoreham in a back-and-forth game that came down to the final minute of overtime. Sayville, after surviving a long Wildcats (15-2) possession to start overtime, scored a dramatic goal with 1:04 left in overtime to defeat Shoreham, 12-11, and advance to the county championship Wednesday.
Sophomore Ashton Bradley burried the game-winning goal off an assist from senior Matt Selts, sending the Golden Flashes rushing onto the field in celebration as the Wildcats looked on in disbelief.
“I said to the team before the game, it’s always hard being number one, because everyone loves the underdog,” Taylor said. “The underdog has nothing to lose and everything to gain. I said you have to have your best game. You can’t make mistakes and you got to play like you’re number one.”
A combination of rare unforced errors, an uncharacteristically long scoring drought in the second quarter and some stellar goaltending from Sayville added up to a disappointing loss for the Wildcats.
The Wildcats fought back from two goals down with under 3 minutes left to send the game into overtime. Chris Gray scored his third goal with 2:06 left to bring Shoreham within one. The Golden Flashes won the ensuing faceoff and looked to run down the clock. With just over a minute left, sophomore Ethan Wiederkehr forced a turnover, giving possession back to Shoreham.
On the offensive end, the Wildcats got the ball into the stick of their most veteran player, the Cornell-bound Ryan Bray. From straightaway, Bray whipped a shot into the back of the net with 29 seconds left to tie the game.
The Wildcats won the faceoff and the got the ball back into Bray’s stick. But as he dodged toward the cage, a check sent his stick, with the ball in it, flying into the air. The turnover gave possession back to the Golden Flashes.
Shoreham won the all important faceoff to start overtime and immediately called timeout.
“We had a play set up that we thought was going to be good for us,” Taylor said. “They made an adjustment and we adjusted to another thing.”
The Wildcats, who got a man advantage after a penalty, got off one shot that missed and the Golden Flashes gained possession.
“We had a real good look at the cage and I don’t know if the goalie saved it or if we just missed it, but the ball bobbles around, goes the other way and they had their turn and unfortunately for us they sink the ball.”
Shoreham raced out to a quick 3-0 lead in the first quarter. But after Jason Curran’s goal with 5:41 left in the first, the Wildcats did not score again until the third quarter.
The Wildcats finally came to life late in the third quarter and went ahead by two goals, 8-6, early in the fourth on a goal from Jon Constant. But the Golden Flashes bounced back with four consecutive goals to go ahead 10-8 with 4:29 left.
Sayville sophomore Jack Coan scored four goals in the win. Selts had three goals and three assists.
Curran finished with three goals and two assists for Shoreham. Senior Danny Hughes had two goals and an assist.
Sayville, the No. 5 seed, advances to play No. 3 Mount Sinai for the county title.