A true competitor always wants to go against the best. That’s exactly what the Shoreham-Wading River boys lacrosse team got in Saturday’s Long Island Class C championship game.
The Wildcats ran into the two-time defending New York State champion Cold Spring Harbor Seahawks, who showed everyone at Stony Brook University’s LaValle Stadium why they are considered one of the top teams in the state, if not the country, regardless of classification.
The Seahawks (19-0) ran out to a 6-1 first quarter lead and never looked back, going ahead by as many as 13 goals en route to a 16-7 victory and their third straight Long Island title. It was their 26th consecutive win and put them into the state Class C semifinal game against Section I champion Pleasantville Wednesday at Adelphi University.
Taylor Stroud led the Cold Spring Harbor offense with four goals and three assists, while Nassau County scoring leader Ian Laviano added three goals and an assist. Will Reed also had a hat trick for the Seahawks, who dominated possession and employed an ultra-efficient offense that capitalized on most of its opportunities.
“When you play a team like that, they can just score whenever you make a mistake, and unfortunately we made a lot of mistakes and every mistake turned into a goal, because that’s the kind of team they are,” said Shoreham-Wading River coach Mike Taylor.
All-American senior attack Chris Gray paced the Wildcats (15-4) with three goals and two assists, while Xavier Arline and Sean Halpin each scored twice. Tim Cairo had an assist for Shoreham.
“They’re one of the best teams in the country,” Gray said. “We prepared for them well, our coaches did a great job, but some days you’re going to come out and you’re not going to execute and we had one of those days today. I’m still proud of all my guys; they’re like brothers to me. They gave it their all, and that’s all we could really do.”
Gray, who scored five goals in leading the Wildcats to their 12th Suffolk County title against East Islip, finished his senior year with 114 points, with 89 goals and 25 assists.
“Chris Gray is a player that comes around once in a while in a coach’s career and it’s going to be hard to replace someone who’s that good,” Taylor said. “It’s been a pleasure coaching him for three years and I wish nothing but the best for him in the future.”
Cold Spring Harbor jumped out to a 4-0 lead midway through the first quarter on Stroud’s first two goals and tallies by Reed and Laviano. Gray countered for the Wildcats with 4:30 left in the first, but it wasn’t enough to halt the Seahawks’ momentum.
The Seahawks scored the next six goals, with two more from Laviano and another from Stroud before Gray’s second goal off a feed from Cairo made it 10-2 with less than two minutes to go in the half. Reed scored 30 seconds later from Laviano to put the Seahawks ahead by nine at the break.
Taylor said that the early deficit was just too big a hole to dig out of against the Seahawks’ defense.
“I think that we got desperate,” Taylor said. “We got into a ‘we’re down, we’ve got to go to the cage’ and maybe did that a little too early. We haven’t been in this position too much and I think that was a little shocking to our kids.”
The Seahawks scored the next four goals to extend their lead to 15-2 before the Wildcats enjoyed a quick burst of offense. Two goals from Arline surrounded a goal from Halpin and the trio of scores within 31 seconds made it 15-5. Gray completed his hat trick with two minutes left and Halpin’s second goal ended the scoring.
“Obviously, it’s not how we wanted to end it, but we did great things over the last couple of years,” Gray said. “I know we have a lot of good guys coming back and they’re going to remember this feeling and hopefully carry it through all the way next year.”
Photo: Shoreham-Wading River attack Chris Gray works his way past Taylor Stroud and a tough Cold Spring Harbor defense in Saturday’s Long Island Class C boys lacrosse championship game at Stony Brook University. (Credit: Michael Gasparino)