The little things count for Riverhead High School’s boys lacrosse coach, Vic Guadagnino.
After the Blue Waves registered a 13-7 non-division victory over host East Hampton/Bridgehampton/Pierson on Saturday, Guadagnino was most encouraged by his team’s ability to win face-offs, lots of them.
“This was the best face-off game we’ve had all season,” he said. “That helps with that quick start. We virtually won all of the face-offs in the first half. We had a lot of possessions. We took almost 49 shots in the game. Just to create [those] opportunities is pretty hard to do. That was nice. We rode hard and we picked up a lot of ground balls and that gave us a ton of possession.”
The Blue Waves had a 15-7 face-off record with Dan Czelatka (one goal, one assist) leading the way by winning 12 of 15 face-offs.
“Dan had his best face-off game in game in his career,” Guadagnino said.
That helped Riverhead (2-1, 1-0 Suffolk County Division I) keep possession and grab a 7-2 first-quarter lead over East Hampton/Bridgehampton/Pierson (0-3, 0-1 Division II). Still, Guadagnino felt the Blue Waves could have defended better the rest of the game.
“We started off real intense and we sort of lost it a little bit,” he said. “That was a little disheartening. I would have liked to have seen us play that strong throughout the game.
“We’re on a pace there to be on a 19-2 game. It didn’t end that way because we kind of let down a little bit. Especially our goal play wasn’t great by both of our goalies. It was kind of mediocre. It was kind of disappointing to see them let down a little bit and give up some easy goals.”
Ryan Hubbard led the way with five goals and four assists and Ryan Bitzer added three goals.
Guadagnino said Hubbard has been “pretty consistent for us. He gets a lot of shots. Hopefully, he continues to finish them. Unfortunately, he got shut out by Ward Melville. He’s a good scorer, gets a lot of opportunities and makes the most of it.”
Bitzer, a Newsday player to watch, will attend Stony Brook University next year to play lacrosse.
“He’s a Division I lacrosse player,” Guadagnino said. “He can flat out play. He’s our best player. He has points in every game. So, yeah, he’s our key factor.”
The Blue Waves were on the other side of the coin last Wednesday as they could not overcome a 7-0 first-quarter deficit in a 17-3 home defeat to highly regarded Ward Melville. They learned some valuable lessons on how much they need to improve in the speed of play, stick skills and picking up ground balls.
“The number one thing is the speed of play,” Guadagnino said. “The top teams play at such a fast pace, physically and mentally, that if you want to compete, we call it beating the whistle. They pass it, make snap judgments, quick decisions in play. We’re still developing that. That’s not something that’s natural to us yet.”
Riverhead will host Copiague on Wednesday and East Islip on Saturday in two Division I encounters.
“Both in the preseason were ranked below us,” Guadagnino said. “We need to win these games. When you’re playing a Ward Melville, which is ranked in the top 10 in America, you know you have a big challenge on your hands. When you have two teams this week that are ranked significantly behind us, we need to have another quick start and pick up the wins that we need to get.”