WILDCATS 11, PANTHERS 7
Mike Taylor saw firsthand in 2010 the Shoreham-Wading River Lax Out Cancer event. That year, the boys lacrosse team played the annual fundraiser event, which started in 2008, at Dowling Sports Complex where Taylor was a coach.
When he became the Wildcats’ varsity coach this season, he knew carrying on that tradition was an important part of his new job.
It was also a bit overwhelming.
“I’m very fortunate that Lisa Bray and the people who had done it in the past were still here,” Taylor said. “They were like, ‘coach, we got this.’ Without them, this would not be possible.”
After the pregame festivities Saturday afternoon, it was time for a lacrosse game. And the Wildcats, wearing their customary pink jerseys, were more than up to the challenge.
Facing a talented Miller Place team, the Wildcats led nearly start to finish in an 11-7 victory at Shoreham-Wading River High School. The win improved Shoreham’s record to 5-1 this year. Miller Place dropped to 4-2.
Senior Ryan Bray led all scorers with five goals for Shoreham. The Cornell-bound midfielder proved to be a tough matchup for the Panthers.
“He can have two guys draped on him and still find a way to make a play,” Taylor said.
The Wildcats led by as many as seven in the fourth quarter. Nick Gray dumped in a rebound after a Miller Place save with 6:18 left in the fourth to put the Wildcats ahead 11-4. Miller Place scored the final three goals to inch a little closer.
“This year we’re a very fast team,” Bray said. “We like to push it a lot.”
That faster pace may take some adjustments for opposing teams.
“I kind of hold a lot of the cards, because I’m the knew guy in the league,” Taylor said. “A lot of teams don’t know what I do offensively.”
It’s no surprise that Bray factors heavily into the offense. He dodged off defenders with ease, creating shooting lanes or openings for his teammates.
He scored three straight Shoreham goals from the third quarter into the fourth, all unassisted, as Shoreham opened up a 9-3 lead.
The fast pace can be fun, Bray said, but also exhausting at times.
“It’s great at times, then the middies get gassed,” he said. “It kind of hurts us when we get back on defense, but it’s definitely fun pushing it.”
The Wildcats got two goals from sophomore Chris Gray and one apiece from juniors Jason Curran and Jon Constant and sophomore Joe Miller.
Shoreham goalkeeper Bobby Puckey had a strong game between the pipes. And when he had to head to the bench in the first half after committing a penalty, his younger brother Jimmy slid in to get his back. Jimmy, who’s a junior, made a couple saves while his brother served the penalty.
The Wildcats will return to action Wednesday against Eastport-South Manor.