The Suffolk County Class B boys lacrosse final didn’t start the way Shoreham-Wading River wanted it to. Sayville was taking it to the Wildcats, who were on their heels and looking out of sorts. At halftime, Shoreham was on the short end of a 5-2 score.
The Wildcats can’t say they haven’t been there before. Just five days earlier, in the semifinals, they trailed Comsewogue, 4-2, at halftime.
So, Shoreham just did what it did against Comsewogue and shut out Sayville in the second half for an 11-5 triumph on the sun-baked field turf at Stony Brook University’s Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium on Wednesday. It is Shoreham’s 11th county championship and first since 2013. The Wildcats (17-2) will play Garden City (14-5) in the Long Island final Saturday at Hofstra University.
“Everyone talks about our offense,” Shoreham’s second-year coach, Mike Taylor, said. “I have to start giving some credit to our D. Two shutouts in two second halves in two playoff games. That’s pretty huge.”
As is the way Shoreham turned things around, striking for nine unanswered goals in the second half.
“Lacrosse is a crazy game,” Shoreham attackman Chris Gray said. “You got to love it.”
How did the Wildcats do it?
A healthy helping of four goals and one assist by Gray helped. But so did some exceptional play by faceoff man Joe Miller, who won 16 of 20 faceoffs. The junior midfielder scored two goals, assisted on two others and collected a game-high nine ground balls.
“Joe Miller, they had no answer for him,” Gray said. “He was just giving us all the possessions.”
Miller also provided the undisputed goal of the game. A Sayville defenseman knocked the ball down in front of his own goal. “Then Joey just did his magic,” Gray said. “Words can’t even describe it. It was a phenomenal play.”
With his back to the goal, Miller flicked the ball between his legs and past goalie Joey Sichenzia for an 8-5 lead with 8 minutes 57 seconds left in the game.
“You can’t write that thing,” said Shoreham midfielder Kevin Cutinella, who had two goals and two assists. “It was awesome.”
Miller said he never saw the ball go in, but could tell what happened by the reactions of his teammates.
Shoreham, an 11-8 winner over Sayville (14-5) after falling behind by 4-0 during the regular season, dropped into a 5-2 hole as Mike Fleming was involved in three of Sayville’s first five goals, scoring one and assisting on two others. Meanwhile, Shoreham had a difficult time trying to solve Sichenzia. The senior made six of his 10 saves in the first half, including stops on Jason Curran’s first four shots.
“I don’t know if it was nerves,” Taylor said. “I don’t know what it was, but they weren’t executing like they usually do.”
The victory was sweet redemption for Shoreham, which lost to Sayville in last year’s county semifinals.
Afterward, goalie Jimmy Puckey accepted the championship plaque on behalf of the Wildcats, who then posed for photos.
“It’s awesome,” Miller said. “We’ve been dreaming about this all season.”
Photo caption: Shoreham-Wading River celebrates its 11th Suffolk County championship and first since 2013 following an 11-5 defeat of Sayville. (Credit: Daniel De Mato)