03/27/15 5:00pm
03/27/2015 5:00 PM
Christopher Kuhnle returns to play first singles for Shoreham-Wading River this season. (Credit: Robert O'Rourk, file)

Christopher Kuhnle returns to play first singles for Shoreham-Wading River this season. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk, file)

 

PREVIEW

Debbie Lutjen, who coached the Shoreham-Wading River High School boys tennis team from 1986 to 1995, has returned to the Wildcats, taking over the team from Chris Bevelander.

Lutjen, who also coaches Shoreham’s girls tennis team, was asked if she noticed any changes in the boys game since she last coached the Shoreham boys.

“I think it’s changed in the same way that girls tennis has,” she said. “The top players are putting more time in out of season and playing year-round, so that’s raising the overall level of the players we have competing.” (more…)

03/26/15 8:30pm
03/26/2015 8:30 PM
Steve Wiendler, carrying the ball forward, collected 10 ground balls and an assist for Shoreham-Wading River in its season-opening win over Harborfields. (Credit: Garret Meade)

Steve Wiendler, carrying the ball forward, collected 10 ground balls and an assist for Shoreham-Wading River in its season-opening win over Harborfields. (Credit: Garret Meade)

WILDCATS 18, TORNADOES 9

The game ball from the Shoreham-Wading River High School boys lacrosse team’s first game of the season didn’t go to anyone who scored a goal, made a pass or dug up a ground ball. It didn’t even go to a player holding a stick.

After the Wildcats handed Harborfields a sound 18-9 thumping on Thursday, one of their assistant coaches, Dan Luciano, presented the ball to Mike Taylor, who made his debut as a varsity coach.

“Hey, it’s your first varsity win,” Taylor recalls Luciano telling him. “You got to take the game ball.”

(more…)

03/25/15 2:00pm
03/25/2015 2:00 PM
Riverhead sophomore Casey Plitt pitched nearly every inning last season for the Blue Waves. (Credit: Robert O'Rourk, file)

Riverhead sophomore Casey Plitt pitched nearly every inning last season for the Blue Waves. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk, file)

Pitching and defense can carry any softball team a long way, especially in high school. At Riverhead, coach Jeff Doroski is confident the Blue Waves have both.

“I think one of our strengths last year was defense,” Doroski said. “I don’t see any letdown there. I think we will be as good defensively as we were last year.”  (more…)

03/24/15 5:00pm
03/24/2015 5:00 PM
Shoreham-Wading River sophomore Alexandra Hays was a runner-up in the 3,000 meters at last year's Section XI Individual Championships. (Credit: Robert O'Rourk, file)

Shoreham-Wading River sophomore Alexandra Hays was a runner-up in the 3,000 meters at last year’s Section XI Individual Championships. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk, file)

PREVIEW

The Shoreham-Wading River High School girls track and field team had quite a fruitful season in 2014. So, what else is new?

Success has become just as much a part of the sport for the Wildcats as batons, hurdles and spikes. In 1980, when Paul Koretzki took over as the team’s coach, Shoreham went 7-2 in dual meets. With the exception of 2001, when they lost twice, it was the only year since then that they have lost more than once in a season. (more…)

03/22/15 8:00am
03/22/2015 8:00 AM
Don Jantzen hugs his son Corey after the finals of the 2007 state championship in Albany. Don retired as Shoreham-Wading River's head coach after that season, which ended with Corey winning a second state title. (Credit: Peter Blasl, file)

Don Jantzen hugs his son Corey after the finals of the 2007 state championship in Albany. Don retired as Shoreham-Wading River’s head coach after that season, which ended with Corey winning a second state title. (Credit: Peter Blasl, file)

Don Jantzen, a longtime coach who helped build the Shoreham-Wading River wrestling program into prominence and whose sons combined for six state titles as Wildcats, died suddenly March 4. He was 60.

A family man who married his high school sweetheart, Jantzen was remembered as a hard worker who helped mentor generations of students.  (more…)

03/21/15 12:00pm
03/21/2015 12:00 PM
Shoreham-Wading River senior Ryan Bray returns as one of the Wildcats' top players this season. (Credit: Robert O'Rourk)

Shoreham-Wading River senior Ryan Bray returns as one of the Wildcats’ top players this season. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)

As a longtime assistant coach at Dowling College, Mike Taylor experienced firsthand how tough competition can prepare a team for the postseason. Year in and year out, Dowling faced some of the top Division II programs over the course of the regular season — from Adelphi to C.W. Post to Molloy.

Now, as the first-year coach of Shoreham-Wading River’s boys lacrosse team, Taylor drew comparisons to the kind of competition the Wildcats will face from game to game in a restructured league system.

“Our league especially is so tight,” Taylor said. “There’s such talent in our League III. Everyone’s so close and on any day it could be anyone’s game. You’re going to have to really play some clean lacrosse.”

At Shoreham, Taylor takes over one of the most successful lacrosse programs in Suffolk County. With that come high expectations.

When the players gathered for the first official practice last week, several things stood out to Taylor. He saw a group that was hungry, had an edge to it and came in ready to play.

“I think they have very high expectations for themselves,” Taylor said. “They challenge each other each day and I’m very happy to see that. It doesn’t take very much to get them up and going. It’s been a lot of fun so far.”

The poor weather kept the Wildcats indoors for the first week of practice. They finally got to stretch their legs Monday.

“You see the different athletes and different things that kids can and can’t do,” Taylor said. “It was a little eye-opening for me.”

The Wildcats are coming off a down year, by their standards. After a slow start to the year, the Wildcats won five straight games late in the year, including an impressive 7-1 win over Miller Place. In the first round of the playoffs, the Wildcats lost 9-6 to Sayville, bringing a quick end to their Long Island title defense.

The Wildcats return several key players from a year ago, highlighted by senior Ryan Bray. A Cornell-bound midfielder, Bray brings a wealth of experience and skill to the field.

“He’s been a pleasure to watch,” Taylor said.

Danny Hughes, who’s coming off outstanding seasons in football and basketball, will help anchor the midfield. Hughes’ size and athleticism will make for a tough matchup for any team.

“He’s just a man-child out there,” Taylor said.

The Wildcats have not one, but two Puckey boys who can play goalie. Bobby, a senior, and Jimmy, a junior, will bring a sibling rivalry between the pipes this season.

While their play is similar, Jimmy is left-handed and Bobby is right-handed.

“It’s fun to watch two brothers compete against each other,” Taylor said.

The most depth on the team might on the defensive side. Seniors Nick Gray and Vinny Bruno are the among the returnees. Taylor said some of the younger players are “chomping at the bit” as well.

Jon Constant returns on attack and sophomore Chris Gray is another player who could have a big year on offense. Gray has already committed to Boston University, Taylor said. Sophomore Danny Cassidy is another younger player for whom Taylor has big expectations.

The Wildcats will play in a league system for the first time this year after Section XI did away with the power rankings. That means a .500 record will get the team into the playoffs.

Taylor said it will take time for the team to fully develop its own identity. One key focus to start the season has been limiting turnovers.

“That’s going to really be the big difference when you get into those big games,” he said.

Riverhead senior Mark Andrejack will play in the midfield for the Blue Waves this season. (Credit: Daniel De Mato, file)

Riverhead senior Mark Andrejack will play in the midfield for the Blue Waves this season. (Credit: Daniel De Mato, file)

 

The top offensive players on each team Riverhead faces this year can expect a heavy dose of Blake Carrara. A lockdown defender, Carrara will anchor a young Blue Waves defense as one of the team’s top returning players.

“It’s almost like having a man on defense playing against children,” said Riverhead coach Vic Guadagnino.

Carrara verbally committed to the University of Maryland as a sophomore. Now a junior, Carrara’s speed and strength should make him one of the top defensive players in the division.

“It’s very difficult to get around him in any way, shape or form and beat him one on one,” Guadagnino said. “It’s next to impossible.”

The Blue Waves will field a mostly inexperienced group on defense around Carrara. Because of that, the Blue Waves could rely on more zone defense early in the season.

As the players get more acclimated to playing together, they’ll likely slide back into coverage where Carrara takes away the opposing team’s top player in man-to-man.

On offense, the Blue Waves will need to replace nearly two-thirds of their scoring from a year ago. They’ll rely on some young players to fill the void left after the graduation of Ryan Hubbard and Dan Czelatka.

“We’re really looking to possess a bit more and just spread it out and try to create a double team and move the ball and have anyone fill the net for us,” Guadagnino said. “When you watch us offensively, we’re very, very different from the Hubbard, Czelatka years.”

The Blue Waves will start a freshman on attack, Dalton Lucas. Junior Chris Flood and sophomore Kerry Thomas will both see time on attack. Senior Andres Juarez is a returnee with varsity experience.

The Blue Waves have experience in the midfield with key players like senior Mark Andrejack and junior Austin Fitzpatrick. Andrejack is headed to Adelphi next year and Fitzpatrick is entering his third year on varsity.

The Blue Waves have two returning goalies in John Roca and Jacob Coleman. Roca is headed to Dowling College and Coleman is committed to Hofstra, Guadagnino said.

After missing out on the playoffs a year ago, the Blue Waves are looking forward to the switch to a more conventional league system as opposed to the power rankings.

The team will still play a challenging schedule, but now every game counts the same.

“It might have mentally made life a little easier,” Guadagnino said. “In the power point system, we had five one-goal losses last year so it was kind of devastating. Every game is so huge.”

Riverhead opens the non-league schedule Monday at Sachem East. The league schedule begins March 25 against perennial powerhouse West Islip.

 

After an 0-14 season a year ago, the McGann-Mercy Monarchs will feature a new coach this season in Walter Flaherty. The Monarchs open the season March 26 at home against Hampton Bays. Flaherty could not be reached before deadline.

03/20/15 12:00pm
03/20/2015 12:00 PM
Riverhead lacrosse player Courtney Troyan (left) and Shoreham-Wading River's Manuela Cortes will be key players for their respective teams this season. (Credit: Robert O'Rourk)

Riverhead lacrosse player Courtney Troyan (left) and Shoreham-Wading River’s Manuela Cortes will be key players for their respective teams this season. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)

Rebuilding years have been few and far between at Shoreham-Wading River. From 2004 through 2013, the Wildcats never really rebuilt as they much as they rolled one standout team into the next.

The 2014 season represented a change of course. The Wildcats, under a new coaching staff, stumbled to a 7-9 season. The record, though, was a bit deceiving for the young group. The team still advanced to the county semifinals, falling by four goals to a stacked Mount Sinai team that was in the midst of a 37-game win streak.  (more…)