GARRET MEADE PHOTO
Lindenhurst defenseman Dylan D’Airo tried to slow down Riverhead middie Peter Marino.
Under different circumstances, the Lindenhurst and Riverhead high school boys lacrosse teams might have commiserated with each other about the disappointment that this season has been. Then again, there is disappointment, and there is disappointment.
Lindenhurst knows disappointment on one level. The Bulldogs had hopes of returning to the playoffs this year, but it looks like that isn’t going to happen.
“It’s been a disappointment,” Lindenhurst Coach Andre Dattero said. “We set our goals to get back in the playoffs, but you know what? We always play hard. The Lindenhurst kids do play hard all the time, and that’s all we could ask for. A couple of breaks and we’d be a playoff team, but we’re not. Our kids battled every game. It came down to two or three games that could have gone either way, and that’s our season.”
If Lindenhurst felt disappointment, having gone into Monday’s action in 17th place in Suffolk County Division I, imagine the level of disappointment felt by Riverhead, which was 22nd — in next to last place. A 10-7 loss to Lindenhurst (6-9, 6-7) at Coach Mike McKillop Memorial Field in Riverhead on Monday only added to the Blue Waves’ considerable loss column.
With a 2-13 record, 1-12 in Division I, Riverhead’s only two wins this season have been one-goal triumphs over the Centereach Cougars and the Westhampton Beach Hurricanes. And those wins were way back on March 26 and April 6. Eleven straight losses have taken their toll in the meantime.
“It’s very easy when everything is great and everybody is all happy and everybody loves each other, but when things go wrong …” said Riverhead Coach Tony Lawrence. Lawrence said his players “realize that it’s a tough season, but they’re making the best of it.”
Riverhead showed competitive fire on Monday, taking leads of 2-0, 3-2, and 4-3 before Lindenhurst struck for seven of the next eight goals for a 10-5 lead.
“Once we all work together, then we know anything is possible,” Riverhead middie Peter Marino said. “The rest of the season we’re going to play for pride. We’re not just going to quit. Even though we have a bad record, we’re going to keep going 100 percent.”
Lucas Sarmiento, a senior middie, picked up four goals, one assist and five grounds balls for Lindenhurst. The Bulldogs also received two goals and one assist from Steve Zolezzi and two goals by Pat Walker. Kevin Irving was involved in three Lindenhurst goals, scoring one and setting up two others.
Travis Baskin and Ryan Bitzer both scored twice for the Blue Waves, who also received a goal and an assist each from Joey Fulcoly and Marino. Bitzer scored both of his goals in the final 4 minutes 31 seconds to close the gap for Riverhead. Nick Panagakos assisted twice. Mario Carrera scooped up nine ground balls for Riverhead, which won the ground-ball battle, 36-30. “They came out with heart, they really did,” said Sarmiento.
Sarmiento understands the value of a win, even for a non-playoff team such as his. “It’s all about momentum, you know,” he said. “Every time you win you feel a little more confident, and it [stinks] when you keep losing. It’s definitely not fun.”
Nobody has to tell the Blue Waves that. Lawrence said the biggest lesson his team has learned this season is the importance of perseverance.
“When things don’t go right, what do you do?” he said. “They’ve learned a great deal about winning and losing and realizing that when things don’t go right, it’s OK, you just have to fight through that.”
Riverhead could be headed to its worst season, record-wise, since 2003, when the team went 1-15 in its inaugural varsity season. The Blue Waves have had two winning seasons and never reached the playoffs. With a 6-5 loss to the Bay Shore Marauders on Tuesday, the team has a 48-85 career record.
But the current Riverhead team, which includes 10 seniors, is making a mark of its own — as a team that doesn’t give up. Lawrence said, “That’s what they’ll be remembered for.”