GEORGE FAELLA PHOTO
Kevin Tuthill and his Riverhead teammates lost their home opener to Bayport-Blue Point.
Nobody has to tell Mike Luce about the value of getting off to a good start, whether it be to a game or a season. The Bayport-Blue Point High School boys lacrosse coach knows full well the impact a good start can have on a team’s psyche.
“Huge,” he said. “It sets the tone.”
The Phantoms have set a nice tone for their young season, winning on Saturday for the third time in as many games. Mike Deblesio scored two of his three goals in the first half, helping Bayport-Blue Point run out to a 6-0 lead en route to a 9-3 non-division win over the Riverhead Blue Waves. Deblesio, a junior attackman, also had an assist to help spoil Riverhead’s home opener at Coach Mike McKillop Memorial Field.
“It’s great,” Deblesio said. “When you get out 6-nothing, you got the momentum. You have no fear when you’re out there, you just play. You’re loose when you’re out there with a big lead, so it’s very important to get the momentum early.”
Bayport-Blue Point, seeded 16th in Suffolk County Division II, qualified for the playoffs for the second time in its eight-year varsity history last year when it earned its first home playoff game. The Phantoms may be poised to take things further this year.
“This team is, top to bottom, the best team in Bayport that we’ve had,” Luce said. “We have five or six legit scoring threats. We have five or six really good poles on defense. Our goalie is top-notch, too, so we’re a team to be reckoned with.”
Just ask Bayport-Blue Point’s first three opponents. In their first three games against the Westhampton Beach Hurricanes, the Commack Cougars and Riverhead, the Phantoms have conceded only 10 goals.
On Saturday, goalie Ryan Hughes made 24 saves to help shut down Riverhead’s attack.
“We have one of the best goalies in Suffolk County,” Deblesio said. “It starts there. If we only give up three goals a game, we should be winning.”
Things went Bayport-Blue Point’s way early on. Mike Anglim scooped up a ball in his end, advanced into Riverhead’s territory and fed Adam Berlin for the first goal in the game’s opening minutes. The rout was on.
With crisp passing and smooth ball movement (eight of their nine goals came off assists), the Phantoms added to their lead. Brian Ward scored two goals, Brian White added a goal and two assists, and Steven Kreucher picked up two assists. Bryan Anderson and Berlin had a goal and an assist each. Conor White also found the net for Bayport-Blue Point.
Riverhead, which dropped to 1-1 and is the 19th-ranked team in Division I, received two goals from Peter Marino and two assists from Nick Panagakos.
Three successive goals by Riverhead — the third coming from Travis Baskin 1 minute 35 seconds into the third quarter — cut Bayport-Blue Point’s lead to 6-3. But goals by Conor White, Brian White and Deblesio closed out the game.
“When we can get everything clicking, we play pretty good,” said Rodney Rollins, a junior who in only his second year in the sport has emerged as one of Riverhead’s top defensemen. “When we work the ball around we can score goals. We just have little breakdowns.”
It isn’t easy trying to climb out of a 6-0 hole such as the one Riverhead faced. Riverhead Coach Tony Lawrence said his team’s woes on Saturday may have been more mental than physical.
“I think physically they gave it their all,” he said of his players. “I think mentally we weren’t there, and that’s something that always seems to be our Achilles’ heel, are we ready mentally to play? The second half we did much better, but we have to play 48 minutes, not 24 minutes. … It really came back to bite us.”
Lawrence added: “You just keep working. I still believe in the kids, and hopefully they’ll believe in us.”
Bayport-Blue Point has something to believe in. If the Phantoms keep playing this way, they could go places.
“We should go a long way this year,” said Deblesio.
They have started on the right foot.