Patterson has two bad knees, but a lot of heart

Joey Fulcoly of Riverhead tried to penetrate the Commack defense.

One might think that lacrosse wouldn’t be a sport for someone with two bad knees, but Kyle Patterson knows better.

Patterson, a senior attackman for the Riverhead Blue Waves, knows a lot of things. The holder of a 101 grade-point average, Patterson is ranked 12th in his class academically. He had been injury free until two years ago when he was tripped up in practice and ended up tearing a ligament in his right knee, requiring surgery and costing him half of his sophomore season. Then, over the winter, Patterson hurt the other knee. He said he doesn’t know what the problem is with that knee.

But Patterson hasn’t allowed his knee troubles to keep him off the field. He plays with two knee braces (the one for his right knee is custom made). Without the braces, Patterson said, he can barely run. With the braces, he gives everything he has to help the Blue Waves.

“He’s playing great,” Riverhead Coach Tony Lawrence said. “He’s doing all he can. He sets an example of what it is to work hard. He’s had to overcome adversity with both knees.”

Patterson’s postgame routine involves icing the knees, taking a pain reliever, and hoping “it don’t hurt too bad the next morning … Whenever I get up in the morning, they’re sore, and I just think I need to get through the day and they’ll be good.”

Patterson, who plans to play club lacrosse for Union College in Schenectady next season, has produced three goals and three assists through the first eight games of what has been a season of adversity for Riverhead. One of those assists came on Friday, another rough day for Riverhead. The Blue Waves committed 26 turnovers, made mental and physical errors and took their sixth loss in eight games, 11-3, to the Commack Cougars in a Suffolk County Division I game at Coach Mike McKillop Memorial Field in Riverhead.

Commack (4-5, 4-4) burst out to a 6-0 lead by halftime and didn’t look in danger of losing it.

Timothy Smith scored three goals from 15 shots and assisted on another to lead Commack. Keith McNierney produced two goals, three assists and seven ground balls, and Chris Fast and Brett Shukri added two goals apiece for the Cougars. David Murphy assisted on four of the game’s first five goals and scored the sixth himself.

Mario Carrera won 12 of 14 face-offs, scooped up 10 ground balls and assisted on Riverhead’s first goal by Mike Maiorano. Travis Baskin and Nick Panagakos were Riverhead’s other goal scorers. Riverhead goalkeeper Kyle Hubbard, who played most of the game before being substituted for by Cody Haas in the fourth quarter, was kept busy with 19 saves.

Matt Brendel (three saves) and Michael Moll (five) split time in the Commack goal.

Commack outshot Riverhead, 44-16.

“This was definitely one of our strongest games so far,” said Smith, a senior midfielder. “We came out strong, moved the ball well. We drove to the net and got a lot of goals.”

Commack Coach Nick Alvarado said the second win in a row for his team, which had lost in its three previous meetings with Riverhead, was important.

“It’s one of our better performances this year,” he said. “I think a big thing with our team is, obviously if you look back at the record, it’s just that learning to win.”

Riverhead (2-7, 1-6) could relate. The Blue Waves suffered another loss on Tuesday, 9-8 to the North Babylon Bulldogs (1-8, 1-7).

Lawrence said this has been the most challenging season yet in Riverhead’s seven-year varsity history.

“I think the hustle is there, the dedication is there,” he said. “It’s just the wins are not coming.”

The coach added: “It’s hard. When you’re winning, nobody can complain. What are they going to say to you? When you lose, then everybody points a finger. The main thing is I don’t want these kids to get down, and I don’t want people to start pointing fingers. It’s just a tough situation for us right now, really tough.”

Patterson has helped make things a little easier, though, thanks to his efforts.

“We’ve been playing some tough teams, but at the same time we haven’t been doing as well as we think we should,” said Patterson, who as a third grader played for Riverhead’s first Police Athletic League team. “We have all the potential; we just haven’t been able to put it together.”

Patterson said he wished he was faster. Lawrence, however, values him for so much else.

“Even though he’s not the most fleet-footed of guys out there, you take what he gives you because you know … he’s giving 110 percent,” Lawrence said. “That’s all I could ask for.”