06/05/13 1:00pm
06/05/2013 1:00 PM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO  |  Shoreham-Wading River senior Tim Rotanz tallied 13 points in the Wildcats' win over Friends Academy Saturday.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River senior Tim Rotanz tallied 13 points in the Wildcats’ win over Friends Academy Saturday.

Three blowout wins in the books, the Shoreham-Wading River boys lacrosse team heads north today to face Bronxville in the Class C state semifinals.

The Wildcats stand two wins away from their second straight state championship.

Shoreham demolished Friends Academy Saturday in the Long Island championship, 18-7. Senior Tim Rotanz led the offensive onslaught with 13 points (6 goals, 7 assists).

Today’s semifinal game, scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at Marist College, is a rematch from last year. The Wildcats defeated Bronxville 11-2 last year en route to the state championship.

Bronxville comes into the game with a 21-1 record. But the level of competition the school faces in Section 1 doesn’t compare to the kind of grind Shoreham faces. Bronxville is rated 13th on laxpower.com for Class C schools in New York. The Wildcats (18-1) are No. 1.

The teams have played one common opponent this year: Westhampton Beach. The Wildcats won 15-9 in the first game of the season against Westhampton and Bronxville won 6-5 in overtime April 17.

A win would send the Wildcats into the state finals Saturday in Rochester. The other semifinal matchup features Cazenovia against Penn Yann. The Wildcats defeated Penn Yann in last year’s state final.

Two more wins would give Shoreham its fourth state title since 2002. Only West Islip (five state titles in Class A) has more championships in that time period among Suffolk County schools.

Be sure to check back tonight for live coverage from Poughkeepsie.

joew@timesreview.com

06/01/13 6:15pm
06/01/2013 6:15 PM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River senior Tim Rotanz tallied 13 points in the Wildcats’ win over Friends Academy Saturday.

Shoreham-Wading River scored early and often once again to overwhelm Friends Academy 18-7 in the Class C Long Island championship Saturday afternoon at Hofstra University.

All-American Tim Rotanz tallied 13 points as the Wildcats won the fifth Long Island title in program history. Rotanz scored 6 goals to go with 7 assists, all without playing the fourth quarter.

Most of those assists went to sophomore Ryan Bray, who finished with 5 goals and 3 assists.

The Wildcats led by as many as 14 in the fourth quarter, their third straight blowout victory in the playoffs.

Shoreham has now scored 55 goals in three postseason games.

Shoreham advances to play Bronxville Wednesday in the Class C state semifinals at Marist College.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River sophomore Ryan Bray scored five goals Saturday.

Click below for a live blog from today’s game:

06/01/13 8:00am

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | After scoring 4 goals against Bayport-Blue Point, Tim Rotanz leads Shoreham-Wading River against Friends Academy today in the Class C Long Island finals.

The Shoreham-Wading River Wildcats fully expected Cold Spring Harbor to be the team awaiting them in today’s Long Island Championship. The two storied programs met in last year’s championship and Cold Spring Harbor had won five Nassau county titles since 2006.

But after the Wildcats’ lopsided win over Bayport-Blue Point Tuesday, they learned it was Friends Academy that had pulled off the upset over Cold Spring Harbor in the Nassau Class C final.

For Friends Academy, it was the first county title in program history. And it was also the first win over Cold Spring Harbor since 1995, Newsday reported.

The Wildcats will face Friends at 4:30 p.m. today at Hofstra University. Shoreham will be vying for its fifth Long Island championship in program history.

[Check back for live coverage of today's game]

Friends Academy comes into the game with a 14-2 record and ranked third in Class C on the laxpower.com rankings. Shoreham, the defending state champion, is ranked No. 1.

The Wildcats will have to contend with Friends Academy junior Will Sands, who comes into the game with 50 goals and 42 assists to lead the team in both categories. Sands tallied 3 goals and 4 assists in Friends’ win over Cold Spring Harbor.

joew@timesreview.com

05/28/13 9:30am
05/28/2013 9:30 AM

BILL LANDON/ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTOS | Sean Condron and Lauren Lustgarten will lead their respective teams into the county finals tonight.

The Shoreham-Wading River lacrosse teams will play a unique doubleheader tonight at Dowling Sports Complex. Both teams will be looking to defend their county titles, starting with the girls game at 5 p.m.

The girls will play top-seeded and undefeated Mount Sinai, the top ranked Class C team in the state. The Wildcats lost to Mount Sinai earlier this year, 14-8. The Wildcats will hope to replicate their success from last year. In the regular season last year the Wildcats lost to the Mustangs before bouncing back to win in the county finals.

The Wildcats come into the game off an 8-7 overtime thriller over Babylon. The Wildcats have plenty of postseason success to fall back on tonight. Since 2006 the Wildcats are 29-2 in the postseason, winning five state championships.

The Wildcats have not lost a Class C playoff game since the state semifinals in 2006. In 2011 they lost in the Class B county finals.

Following the girls game tonight, the boys will play Bayport-Blue Point for the Class C county title. That game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

Shoreham comes into the game off a lopsided first-round win over John Glenn. Shoreham won 15-4 in the regular season against Bayport.

Admission to both games is $6. Be sure to check back right here for live coverage of both games tonight.

05/23/13 9:27pm
05/23/2013 9:27 PM

BILL LANDON PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River junior Hunter Hayes scored four goals with three assists in Thursday’s win over John Glenn.

SUFFOLK CLASS C SEMIFINALS  |  WILDCATS 19, KNIGHTS 2

Shoreham-Wading River has at least one outsider supporting its quest to win the New York State Class C boys lacrosse championship: Elwood/John Glenn coach Kevin Lavey.

Lavey certainly could attest to the Wildcats’ all-around lacrosse abilities after their 19-2 home win over Glenn in a Suffolk County semifinal on Friday.

“They’ve got my vote to win the state championship,” he said. “I think they have enough power to go all the way, no doubt about it.”

When he heard about Lavey’s endorsement, Shoreham coach Tom Rotanz laughed. “We’ve got to win,” he said. “We’ve got to win Tuesday.”

That’s when they were scheduled to meet Bayport-Blue Point for the county crown at the Dowling Sports Complex.

On Friday, the top-seeded Wildcats put in a complete performance on both ends of the field and brought their record to 16-1. They did little wrong from the opening face-off to the final whistle.

All-American Tim Rotanz led the way, scoring five goals and assisting on four others. But it was far from a one-man show. Hunter Hayes contributed four goals and three assists and Ryan Bray had a hat trick. Christian Clarkin and Troy Miller added two goals apiece. Anthony Visintin, Jake Kavanagh and Tristian Capes each finished with a goal.

Asked if there was a way to stop Shoreham, Lavey replied: “You’ve just got to play smart and not make a mistake. You’ve got to play mistake-free and maybe try to take Rotanz out of the equation, but they have other guys who will step it up.”

Coach Rotanz admitted he was surprised by the margin of victory.

“We always kind of match up well against them, but today everything seemed to go our way,” he said. “Very unselfish, everyone was sharing the ball, so we’re pleased. Obviously, we weren’t expecting to win by that margin. But we’re pretty pumped that the kids stayed pretty unselfish. It was nice.”

Needless to say, Lavey walked away impressed with the Wildcats.

“We got our butts kicked,” he said. “You know what? They’re a strong and excellent team. You can’t take anything away from them. Unfortunately, we did not come to play today. We didn’t even possess the ball in the first half. We had two possessions in the first half. You can’t win games when you don’t have the ball. We made ourselves a big, big hole and we didn’t do too much to get out of it.”

The Wildcats started to dig that hole for the visitors only 20 seconds into the encounter.

Kavanagh won the opening face-off against Griffin Ryan, but he lost possession. Glenn entered Shoreham territory, but Ryan Stein knocked the ball away. Alex Houlihan gained possession and fed Rotanz, who scored for a 1-0 lead.

“It was a great takeaway by him,” Tim Rotanz said. “He got the ball and we came down. Once we got that, Jake knew we needed the momentum and he just kept going and kept winning the face-offs.”

The Wildcats grabbed a 13-0 halftime lead and extended their advantage to 17-0 before Glenn (7-11) scored with 4:09 remaining in the game.

Just as impressive as the attack was the relentless defense. Shoreham played the entire 48 minutes as though it was clinging to a one-goal lead.

With Shoreham enjoying a 5-0 lead, Brett Friedman demonstrated some of that defense as he leaped through the air near the sideline to intercept a pass.

“You can’t teach that,” Tom Rotanz said. “That’s desire. That’s a desire to win and whatever it takes. He’s one of the reasons why we do well.”

The Wildcats never stopped.

“We like to have that intensity with us the whole game,” Tim Rotanz said. “We didn’t want to let up because we knew they had a great face-off man that could come back quick and the defense played just outstanding today.”

Added coach Rotanz: “I guess they don’t take anything for granted. They just play our style of lacrosse, which is push it. They set picks, look for the crease, set picks, look for the crease. We got a lot of goals on the doorstep. Teams that try to run a zone against us, we overload the zone, man to man, we set picks. They work hard, they work hard.”

Shoreham hopes that success continues for several more games.

05/16/13 7:41pm
05/16/2013 7:41 PM
ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO | Riverhead's airborne Keith Jefferson firing a point-blank shot that is saved by Smithtown East's Brian Balkam.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Riverhead’s airborne Keith Jefferson firing a point-blank shot that is saved by Smithtown East’s Brian Balkam.

SUFFOLK COUNTY CLASS A TOURNAMENT, FIRST ROUND | BULLS 12, BLUE WAVES 5

The Riverhead boys lacrosse team waited 11 years for this day, so when it finally arrived, the Blue Waves made sure that they were ready. But then again, so was Smithtown East.

On an historic day for Riverhead’s program, the Blue Waves turned in an effort worthy of the occasion, but the final result was predictable, nonetheless. The historical record will show that the first playoff game in Riverhead’s 11-year varsity history was a 12-5 defeat, but it was to a talented Smithtown East team, and there’s no shame in that.

Junior attackman Joe Saggese struck for three goals and five assists to lead fourth-seeded Smithtown East to the first-round win in the Suffolk County Class A Tournament on Thursday. Brian Willetts contributed three goals and one assist for Smithtown East (13-3), which will play No. 5 West Islip or No. 12 Lindenhurst in a county quarterfinal at home on Tuesday. Dan Rooney added two goals. Brian Balkam made 13 saves in goal for the Bulls.

And while the 13th-seeded Blue Waves (10-7) surely would have preferred another outcome, they could take pride in knowing that they were the first players in team history to reach the playoffs.

“Being the first team ever in Riverhead lacrosse history to be in the playoffs, just the atmosphere, it’s completely different,” said Riverhead senior attackman Ryan Bitzer, whose next game will be for Stony Brook University. “It brings it up to another level, just the intensity. I’m real proud of our team. We battled, we fought. We never gave up.”

Indeed, Riverhead did a lot of good things and did not play badly, but speed and stick skill was on Smithtown East’s side. The field turf at Nicholas Schroeder Field in St. James is built for the Bulls. It’s a fast field, and Smithtown East is a fast team. The Bulls have the ability to cleanly scoop up ground balls on the first attempt, and then they are off and running.

“It was one of our weaknesses last year, picking up ground balls,” Smithtown East coach Jason Lambert said. “I think we’ve really improved on that. Our transition game is really good. When we get going, going from defense to offense, and start picking up ground balls, we can be effective.”

ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO | Ryan Hubbard scored on this shot for Riverhead 1 minute 47 seconds into the fourth quarter, cutting Smithtown East's lead to 9-4.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Ryan Hubbard scored on this shot for Riverhead 1 minute 47 seconds into the fourth quarter, cutting Smithtown East’s lead to 9-4.

Riverhead is the only Class A playoff team that doesn’t play its home games on field turf, according to Riverhead coach Vic Guadagnino. “It’s tough,” he said. “I’m not complaining. … It’s a faster game on this stuff, and you can see that they’re on it all the time.”

Riverhead’s first playoff game started at precisely 4:32 p.m. with the first of 14 face-offs won by Smithtown East (as compared to seven for Riverhead). The Bulls worked the ball around in Riverhead’s end for about two minutes. Then, on Riverhead’s first possession, it scored when Dan Czelatka put in the first of his two goals 2 minutes 25 seconds into the game.

It was an encouraging start for the Blue Waves.

Perhaps Smithtown East was dealing with some playoff butterflies in the early going. A pair of goals by Saggese gave the Bulls a 2-1 lead by the end of the first quarter. Those strikes proved to be the first of nine straight goals by Smithtown East.

Even so, Riverhead didn’t fold, responding with a three-goal surge by Czelatka, Bitzer and Ryan Hubbard to cut Smithtown East’s lead to 9-4 at 1:47 of the fourth quarter.

But Rooney’s two goals and a goal by Willetts (game-high 10 shots) closed out the scoring along with Roger Foster’s goal for Riverhead.

Smithtown East’s offense can be lethal, as it showed with a 43-29 shots advantage and the pressure it put on the Riverhead defense. The Bulls scored on four of seven man-up situations. Riverhead goalie Alex Panagakos was kept busy with 12 saves.

Panagakos, one of Riverhead’s nine seniors, said the team came out flat in its two previous games. That wasn’t the case on Thursday, though.

“This is a playoff game,” he said. “Our coaches prepared us for it, and they’re right, it’s a whole another level.”

Smithtown’s only county title came in 2003 when it was one school. Since then, it split into Smithtown East and Smithtown West, and neither has won a county crown. West Islip has won the last nine Suffolk Class A titles.

Lambert compares this year’s team to the 2007 Smithtown East squad that reached the county semifinals. “This is one of our better East teams we’ve had here,” he said. “This is definitely the best team I’ve had offensively.”

Considering who they were facing, the Blue Waves did not do badly.

“I thought that even though we lost, we stepped up big,” said Riverhead senior midfielder Paul Harron, who will play for Dowling College next year. “Oh, they were good. I give them respect. They look like they’re going to go far this year.”

Bitzer said that even after Riverhead fell behind, “We still played hard. We never quit. We played all the way until the end.”

Guadagnino said he remembers every game he has coached, so he undoubtedly will not forget this one, Riverhead’s first playoff game “and not the last.”

bliepa@timesreview.com

05/15/13 8:00pm
05/15/2013 8:00 PM

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Tim Rotanz of Shoreham-Wading River is now third all-time in Long Island history for career points. He has 416 heading into the playoffs.

There was little fanfare late last season when Tim Rotanz quietly became Shoreham-Wading River’s all-time leader in career points, blowing past a 10-year-old record with still another year to play.

“He is absolutely clueless,” his father and coach, Tom Rotanz, said last year about the record.

It would be harder, however, for him to remain clueless over his latest accomplishment, a feat that puts him in rare company in the history of Long Island lacrosse.

In an 18-6 win over Rocky Point last Thursday, Rotanz reached the 400-career point plateau, becoming only the fourth player in Long Island history to reach that mark.

The University of Maryland-bound Rotanz has been on an absolute tear down the stretch of the season, tallying 50 points over the last six games. He had 12 points against Rocky Point, split neatly with 6 goals and 6 assists.

Against Garden City Saturday, Rotanz climbed to third all-time in career points by passing Brian Jacovina (404). Nick Galasso of West Islip is the all-time leader with 500, followed by Jim Zaffuto of Elmont with 498.

Rotanz is now third with 416.

In a game that featured two defending state champions, the Wildcats and Trojans played an overtime classic Saturday. Garden City handed Shoreham its first loss of the season, 10-9, despite another big game from Rotanz, who had 2 goals and 6 assists.

The Wildcats led 6-2 early in the third quarter on the road before the Trojans came back with four goals over five minutes to tie the game, setting up a dramatic finish.

Shoreham took an 8-6 lead when Rotanz circled around the cage, drew a double team and fired off a pass to Danny Hughes for a goal.

The Trojans responded with two goals to tie the game. Duke-bound Justin Guterding put the Trojans ahead when he banged a shot into the top-right corner with 13.8 seconds left.

The Wildcats won the ensuing face-off behind Jake Kavanagh, who quickly got the ball out to Rotanz. He raced downfield and fired off the game-tying shot with 1.4 on the clock.

But it was Guterding who had the final say, scoring the game-winning goal in overtime to win it 10-9. Hunter Hayes had five goals for Shoreham.

The Wildcats (15-1, 14-0 Division II) bounced back with a 17-5 division win over John Glenn Monday to close out the regular season.

Shoreham will begin the playoffs May 23 as the No. 1 seed against John Glenn. Second-seeded Babylon will play No. 3 Bayport-Blue Point in the other semifinal.

The Wildcats finished the season as the Division II champions for the second straight season.

joew@timesreview.com

05/11/13 10:00am
05/11/2013 10:00 AM
ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO  |  Dan Czelatka, who scored four Riverhead goals, faces a double team against Northport Thursday.

ROBERT O’ROURK FILE PHOTO | Dan Czelatka shoots against Northport.

The wait is over.

After a 10-win season last year that left them on the outskirts of the playoffs, the Riverhead Blue Waves will enter the dance this season for the first time.

The Blue Waves’ 8-6 Division I record positioned them 13th in the power rankings at the conclusion of the regular season yesterday. That sets up a first-round playoff matchup Thursday at Smithtown East, the No. 4 seed. The game is tentatively slated for 4 p.m.

The top three seeds — Ward Melville, Smithtown West and Northport — all receive a first-round bye.

Riverhead finished the regular season 10-6.

The Blue Waves actually finished with one fewer league win than last year, but a tougher schedule allowed the power points to work in their favor this season.

Riverhead did not play Smithtown East in the regular season. The Blue Waves went 1-5 against playoff teams in the regular season.

joew@timesreview.com