It wasn’t long after the playoffs had begun for the Riverhead High School boys lacrosse team when it was all over.
It was a tale of two halves as Riverhead was able to go toe to toe with visiting Northport through two quarters of play. Tied at six goals apiece to begin the second half, Northport shut out Riverhead in the third quarter and allowed just two goals in the fourth to cruise to a 13-8 victory Tuesday in a Suffolk County Class A Tournament outbracket game at the Pulaski Sports Complex in Riverhead.
Ninth-seeded Northport (9-8) earned a quarterfinal against the No. 1 seed, Division I champion Ward Melville (14-2), on Friday.
Northport struggled to contain Riverhead attackman Dalton Lucas, as the junior notched his hat trick in the opening minute of the second quarter for a 5-2 lead.
“I knew they had a couple of defensemen hurt but any team can beat any team any day, so you have to expect anything when you get [out there] on the field,” Lucas said. “But I don’t think that we played to our potential. [Today’s loss] we just have to learn from it and prepare for next season. That’s really all that you can do.”
Northport countered, scoring four unanswered goals to take its first lead of the game in the final 26 seconds of the half, but Lucas wouldn’t be denied. He drilled his fourth goal of the game to tie the score at 6-6, making it a new game.
Northport peppered the scoreboard twice more with just under three minutes left in the third and from there, the Tigers never looked back. Rattling off three more goals before Riverhead could answer, the Tigers jumped out to an 11-6 lead two minutes into the final quarter.
Riverhead senior attacker Chris Flood dished one off to sophomore midfielder Connor Kalmus, who buried his shot to make it a four-goal game.
Riverhead goalie Jacob Coleman had his hands full from the opening minute of the game, recording 21 saves along the way.
“Northport was exactly what we thought they would be,” Coleman said. “They’re a transition team and they shoot from everywhere. That’s exactly what Coach told us [but] we just didn’t execute. The difference between the first half and the second was ground balls and possession. They wore us down a little in the third quarter and started scoring and we just couldn’t come back from that.”
Northport split the pipes twice more before Riverhead sophomore Kamryn Gill’s shot found its mark for the Blue Waves’ final score of the day.
“Northport outworked us and I didn’t think that was going to happen,” Riverhead coach Vic Guadagnino said. “I thought they were a little deeper than us, they had a little more lacrosse savvy, and that bit us midway through the second quarter. We made some mistakes that hurt us normally, but were magnified here in the playoffs. If you can’t clear the ball, things can get a little difficult and that happened to us a few times today.”
Riverhead finished its season with an 11-6 record. With plenty of underclassmen returning next year, Guadagnino believes the future is bright.
Photo caption: Riverhead goalie Jacob Coleman (21 saves) facing a Northport shot. (Credit: Bill Landon)