As he walked onto the field before Tuesday’s high school boys lacrosse game, Mike Taylor was asked if he was ready for the season. “We’ll find out in about an hour,” he said with a grin.
That grin turned into a full-fledged smile by the time it was all over and Taylor’s Shoreham-Wading River team had executed a commanding 13-4 victory in its season opener and Sayville’s home opener. Tim Cairo struck for five goals and one assist and Xavier Arline had two goals (from 13 shots) to go with four assists for Shoreham in the Suffolk County Division II game.
And so Shoreham began its journey, which it hopes will end with a third straight county title and 13th overall.
Judging by the way Shoreham played, one would not have imagined that it lost 16 players and returns only three starters (Trevor Kessel, Jack Schirtzer and Arline) from last year’s team.
“Not a lot of people think highly of us this year so it’s always fun being the hunted, not the hunter,” said Arline, a sophomore attackman with a fearsome shot.
Taylor said he has been spoiled somewhat, coaching at Shoreham. “We tend to not rebuild as much as we reload,” he said. “We had wonderful talent last year, and here’s these other talented kids that don’t get to go on the field just because there’s so much talent here and everyone’s fighting for a spot. That competitiveness of fighting to be on the field is great because they’re preparing themselves for when they do get the chance.”
The Wildcats, coming off a 15-4 season in which they reached the Long Island Class C final, have received respect. They are seeded third in Division II, with nine players who have committed to colleges, including Arline (North Carolina), Schirtzer (Ohio State) and Kessel (Michigan).
Shoreham didn’t waste any time in getting off to a flying start at Timothy J. Henck Memorial Field. Arline, Cairo, Zach Colucci (two goals, two assists) and John Schwarz spotted Shoreham a 4-0 lead by the time the game was 7 minutes, 37 seconds old.
“I think we controlled the tempo of the game, especially offensively,” Taylor said. “In the beginning, we were able to do kind of what we wanted to do.”
Cal Gallagher snapped that string with the first of his two goals for Sayville (0-2, 0-1).
Then Cairo, a senior attackman committed to Pace University, whipped in a long-range shot off a pass from Kyle Boden (one goal, two assists) 1:56 into the second quarter. That was the first of three straight goals by Cairo. The third of those had to have the Shoreham coaches beaming. Schirtzer, a sophomore defender, caused a turnover in Shoreham’s end, collected the ball and ran it up the field before feeding Cairo for the score.
“Jack is one of those players that in between the boxes, he can control the whole game,” Taylor said. “He has the ability to take the ball away from people and he’s dangerous in the transition.”
Cairo was involved in the first two goals of the third quarter as well, setting up Arline, who employed a whirling move with goalie Jackson Von Eschen (six saves) at his mercy, before scoring himself off a lightning-quick exchange with Arline.
Boden, Jason Guevara and Colucci then completed the 5-0 Shoreham run for a 12-2 cushion.
Nick Cannetti and Curtis Russo pulled two goals back for Sayville before Shoreham’s Gavin Gregorek closed out the scoring.
Shoreham outshot Sayville, 32-8.
“Everybody did their job,” Schirtzer said. “We slid. We have great on-ball defense. Every loose ball was ours.”
When it was over, the question was asked: So, just how good is Shoreham?
“I think we’re as good as we want to be,” Arline said. “The only team that can beat us is us, but we still have a long way to go.”
Shoreham evidently hasn’t lowered its expectations.
“We’re pushing to be better than everybody,” Schirtzer said. “I think people are going to underestimate us and we’re going to come out flying around. We’re going to have more energy than everybody. We’re going to do our jobs. We don’t have the best talent, but we sure work the hardest.”
Photo caption: Shoreham-Wading River’s Xavier Arline fires a shot before Sayville’s Aidan Kaler, left, and Dan Perun could close in on him. (Credit: Bob Liepa)