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Boys Lacrosse: Riverhead’s playoff hopes shot down by Sachem North

Riverhead lacrosse player Austin Fitzpatrick 051016

Riverhead had its heart set on making it to the playoffs, but Sachem North shot a flaming arrow right through it.

Sachem North overcame a 5-1 deficit, scoring eight straight goals in a 9-6 Suffolk County Division I boys lacrosse triumph on Tuesday. The result earned the Flaming Arrows a place in the playoffs while bursting Riverhead’s postseason hopes on Senior Day at Coach Mike McKillop Memorial Field in Riverhead.

“It definitely hurts,” said Riverhead sophomore attack Connor Grauer.

Trying to figure out the playoffs in a system based on power ratings can be like reading tea leaves to predict the future, but it was clear what Riverhead (6-9, 6-7), seeded 12th in the division, needed to do on Tuesday. It needed to win.

The Blue Waves, who have one game remaining Thursday at Longwood, have beaten the teams seeded under them, but have lost to the teams seeded above them.

“We’re like in that dead middle, which is probably one spot out of the playoffs,” coach Victor Guadagnino said. “You got to pick off one team in front of you, and we haven’t done it.”

Things had started so promisingly for Riverhead, too, as it shot out to a 5-1 lead on goals by Dalton Lucas, Chris Flood, Austin Fitzpatrick, Grauer and Ben Weir.

Then the game turned in a dramatic way. Sachem North tightened up its defense in front of goalie Jacob Giacolone (11 saves).

“I think the kids just started playing with a little bit of confidence,” Sachem North coach Paul Benway said. “We’re really good when we play with confidence.”

Starting with Tom Haun’s goal with 3 minutes 39 seconds left in the second quarter, Sachem North (8-8, 7-7) went on an 8-0 binge, during which Dylan Rhatigan and Haun scored three goals apiece to break things open. Rhatigan closed that run with his fourth goal of the day, the punctuation mark coming with 2:36 to go in the game. Flood later added the game’s final goal, but the air was out of Riverhead’s balloon by then.

“We just couldn’t pull through,” said Flood.

Riverhead’s thoughts were on its seven seniors. Blown-up photos of them, with their names and uniform numbers, were hung on a fence near the scoreboard. They were recognized in a pregame ceremony.

Three of those seniors — Blake Carrara (Maryland), Weir (Oneonta State) and Austin Fitzpatrick (New York Tech) — have college lacrosse in their future. The playing careers for classmates Nico Bossey, Dan Hubbard, Kerry Thomas and Carson Wells now boil down to one final game.

Flood called the seniors “the best leaders I could ask for.”

Guadagnino obviously thinks highly of them, too.

“That’s one thing that Riverhead really should be proud of,” he said. “We produce really quality kids here in Riverhead lacrosse. I can’t invent a bad word to say about any of these seven kids. They’re great human beings. They’re great people. They come from great families. I’m very proud of all of them.”

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Photo caption: Riverhead’s Austin Fitzpatrick is kept under close watch by Sachem North’s Nick Favoroso. (Credit: Garret Meade)