TROJANS 13, WILDCATS 4
As lacrosse goes, there are few greater challenges for a team than facing Garden City.
Shoreham-Wading River could see that Saturday afternoon, falling for only the second time this season 13-4 in a rematch of last year’s Long Island Championship.
But the message of the day had less to do with lacrosse. It was about the challenges those suffering from cancer must face in an all-too-unfair, day-to-day reality. The Wildcats, wearing pink uniforms, hosted their fourth annual Lax-Out Cancer event as part of Saturday’s game, which drew a big crowd that they hoped could generate as much as $30,000 in donations.
“I’ve had family affected by this, so I was kind of emotional in the beginning,” said Shoreham-Wading River senior Chris Mahoney. “The true meaning of this game, besides two really great teams going at it, is the purpose of just fighting cancer.”
Shoreham coach Tom Rotanz spoke to the crowd before the game and honored all those affected by cancer from the Shoreham and Garden City lacrosse programs.
Rotanz said Garden City coach Steve Finnell, who lost his mother to cancer in 1994, asked to be apart of this year’s fundraiser game.
“I said, without question that would be a great day,” Rotanz told the crowd. “My only mistake was, I thought he was graduating all his great players.”
That wasn’t the case. The Trojans, considered one of the top teams in the country, used an explosive third quarter (6-1) to blow open what had been a tight game throughout the first half. The Trojans (11-0) had tremendous balance offensively with eight different players scoring goals. Senior Devin Dwyer led the attack with three goals and three assists.
“It was definitely one of the toughest challenges we’ve had as a group,” Mahoney said. “I think going against teams like this really exposes our weaknesses, which we really need to get farther in the season.”
Garden City midfielder Ryan Norton scored a back-breaking goal with 4 seconds left before halftime that made it a 5-2 game. The Trojans then scored the first two goals of the third quarter to open up the lead. The Wildcats scored their third goal with 9:26 left right off a face-off when Tim Rotanz (1 goal, 2 assists) fed James Higgins for the goal. But the Trojans scored the next five goals before Shoreham would strike again.
“We don’t have enough offensive guns to match,” coach Rotanz said. “They have a balanced, six-man offense.”
The Wildcats (9-2) came into the game off a tough division match Friday night against Mount Sinai. The Wildcats came back from a 5-2 fourth-quarter deficit to win 7-6. They improved to 9-1 are the top-rated team in Division II.
Rotanz said he hoped that after Saturday’s game, which was televised live, his team will be ready for anything.
“Every game after this won’t be a big deal,” he said. “We just take care of business.”
Trevor Brosco and sophomore Troy Miller each had goals for Shoreham. Senior Tyler Lutjen had six saves.
The idea for the fundraiser came in 2007 after the Wildcats had won a state championship. The team had planned a ring ceremony around Thanksgiving to celebrate the achievement. A few days before the ceremony, a player lost his father to cancer.
“It really put into perspective what is important,” Rotanz said. “Winning games is great, but when you lose someone, everything is secondary.”
Last year the Wildcats honored Liam McGuire, who was 7 at the time and battling chromosomal leukemia. McGuire was an honorary captain for the Wildcats last season.
Rotanz said McGuire returned to school about three weeks ago and was doing well. They hoped to have him attend the game, but he was celebrating his Communion.
“We’re very happy he’s back on track,” Rotanz said.
Twenty-five percent of donations were going to the McGuire family, Rotanz said. The remaining 75 percent was to be evenly divided among three cancer research foundations, Rotanz said.