The Riverhead High School boys lacrosse team has some high expectations to meet this season, not just for itself, but for some experts as well.
The Blue Waves (11-5 last year) were ranked 14th among Suffolk County Division I schools by LI Lacrosse Journal, the highest preseason seed in its history.
“We’re hoping it will be the best team Riverhead has had,” coach Vic Guadagnino said. “We had an impressive team last year, but we hope to be better than last year.”
And for good reason. The Blue Waves have the bulk of their attack back, which is not good news for their opponents.
Senior midfielders Dalton Lucas (Stony Brook University-bound) and Connor Grauer (Limestone College) are slated to pace the offense again, coming off of 44- and 40-goal seasons, respectively. They will be backed by junior midfielder Connor Kalmus (St. John’s University) and junior attack Kamryn Gill (Salisbury University).
Senior Matt Greaves (New York Tech) gives Riverhead plenty of experience in the midfield.
Senior co-captain Paul Tocci (SUNY/Morrisville) is the top returning defenseman and will be helped by junior Travis Hayon and Aiden Fitzpatrick.
Junior face-off specialist Dan Mastropaolo, who won 67 percent of his 115 face-off duels as the No. 2 man last year, will have the top responsibility this time around, replacing John Ehlers (Stony Brook).
“He’s doing just as good,” Guadagnino said.
Sophomore William Burkowsky and junior Ryan Ott are battling for the starting goaltender job.
Riverhead has plenty of depth, especially up front in attack with sophomore Caleb Zuhoski and juniors Connor Batjer and Shane Coleman.
Guadagnino realizes his team can’t throw its cleats out on the field and expect to take home a win. The Blue Waves visit Bayport-Blue Point for a non-league game Friday afternoon.
“We have an incredibly difficult schedule,” he said. “We play the best of the best in the division. We have nothing easy, except for the back end of the schedule.”
Former Greenport High School athletic director Jim Caliendo has been brought on, hoping to improve on Bishop McGann-Mercy’s 0-14 finish in Division II last year.
“I think we’re going to be competitive,” he said. “It’s a tough league, one of the toughest leagues in the nation … We’re just getting on the train, trying to catch up to everyone else.”
With the school scheduled to close in June, Caliendo hoped that playing sports will help … the disappointing news. “It’s something the kids can actually enjoy,” he said.
Three seniors will lead the 16-player squad — goalie Dominik Zelayandia, defenseman Aidan Martin, who played basketball, and midfielder Chris Godsell.
Zelayandia, a back-up goalkeeper in soccer, will faces a huge challenge because he has never played lacrosse before “and probably plays the toughest position,” Caliendo said. “He’s very bravely stepping up in goal. Give him a lot of credit.”
Martin, who will play at lacrosse at Regis College (Boston) next year, will anchor the defense. Godspell “runs all over the field,” Caliendo said.
Other key players include sophomore William Giglio and junior Finn Kelly on the attack and junior Liam Eagan in midfield.
The Monarchs will prepare for their season in a tournament in Hempstead Friday and Saturday that will include Hempstead, New Dorp (Staten Island) and Bishop Loughlin (Brooklyn). They will open their season against Center Moriches at home on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.
Shoreham-Wading River coach Michael Taylor did not return phone messages prior to the deadline. The Wildcats (15-4) lost to Cold Spring Harbor in last year’s Long Island Class C final.
Photo caption: Dalton Lucas, a senior midfielder headed for Stony Brook University, scored 44 goals for Riverhead last season. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk, file)