Tony Lawrence said his high school boys lacrosse team finished the season with “pride and class.”
The Riverhead Blue Waves coach knows how difficult and disappointing this season has been for his team. But he pointed to the way the team finished out the season over the past couple of weeks, including Friday’s come-from-behind 8-6 home win over Brentwood, as an example of the kind of character his team has.
“We had high expectations to make the playoffs this season, but the division got better,” Lawrence said. “Four or five of our teams are ranked in the top 15 in the country. We play in the toughest division in the United States. There is so much parity it is unbelievable. If we played anywhere else, we’d be king of the hill.”
At times this season the Blue Waves (3-13, 2-12 in Suffolk County Division I) were their own worst enemy, but for the most part they played a solid game in the win over the Indians (2-14, 0-14). Kevin Tuthill, Kyle Patterson and Travis Baskin scored in the fourth quarter to lift the Blue Waves to the thrilling win. Riverhead goalkeeper Kyle Hubbard made 10 saves.
Riverhead came out strong and scored the first four goals of the first quarter as Tuthill, Baskin, Nick Panagakos and Patterson scored. But a brief lapse of sloppiness allowed Brentwood to come roaring back to tie the score as Andrew McMenemy and Danny Cruz both netted a pair of goals. Tuthill’s second goal put the Blue Waves back on top, 5-4.
After neither team scored in the second quarter, Brentwood took the lead in the third period on Orlando Polanco’s go-ahead goal. But Riverhead regained its composure and settled down.
“We’re a blue-collar team that is not flashy,” Lawrence said. “When we play within ourselves, take our time and don’t rush our passes or shots, we can be very successful.”
In the games in which the Blue Waves cut down on their mistakes and slowed the ball down, Lawrence said, “we played teams tough. We need to control the ball and give our defense a rest. But when we rushed our shots and forced our passes, 85 percent of the time we were on the defensive. That really hurt us.”
Lawrence talked about how close losses to Lindenhurst and Bay Shore could have gone the other way if his team played “within our system. We need to do the little things right to win. The last four or five games the kids decided to go with what we wanted them to do. We might not have been winning, but we played better. The kids fought hard and overcame adversity. Those are characteristics that will help them later on in life.”
Lawrence said he is proud of his team.
“A lot of teams would’ve given up,” he said. “Our seniors showed a lot of resilience. They gave 110 percent every day. I told the kids the two teams I will remember most are our 2004 team and this year’s team. The 2004 team featured Eddie Wansor and a great group of players, and this season’s team fought to the end with class.”