A season that began with Sayville ended with Sayville.
That’s how it was for the Shoreham-Wading River High School boys lacrosse team. This season has had its share of bumps in the road for the Wildcats, and that road reached a dead end Thursday.
Cal Gallagher’s six goals led fifth-seeded Sayville to a 15-14 triumph over No. 4 Shoreham in a Suffolk County Class C outbracket game at Thomas Cutinella Memorial Field. Nick Gonzalez’ second goal of the game, off a feed from James Lyons, gave Sayville a 15-13 lead with 1 minute, 23 seconds left to play.
Shoreham mounted a desperate assault on the Sayville goal, launching five shots in the final 70 seconds, including Tim Cairo’s fifth goal of the day. Sayville goalie Dom Russo did well to stop a shot by Xavier Arline and also came up with a critical ground ball that took the game to its completion.
The Golden Flashes jumped for joy while the Wildcats looked devastated, as if they were trying to comprehend what had just happened. Their bid for a third straight county championship had been crushed.
“It’s not easy,” said Cairo, who also had two assists. “You kind of just think about the stuff that you could have done better, the difference that it would make in the game.”
Sayville (9-7) earned a place in the semifinals against No. 1 Mount Sinai (14-1) on Wednesday.
Shoreham (9-8) had opened the season with a 13-4 win in Sayville, but it was an improved Sayville team that the Wildcats faced in the rematch.
“Coach even said they’re known for watching film and coming back better prepared, and that’s what they did,” said Cairo.
The teams were a good match for each other. Not only did the lead change hands five times, but the score was tied on eight occasions, the last time when Cairo evened things at 12-12.
Then Gallagher turned in some of his best work for Sayville. The senior attack connected on back-to-back goals, the second from a nifty behind-the-back shot off a pass from Curtis Russo (two goals, two assists).
Shoreham showed plenty of fight down the stretch, but Sayville was able to hold off the Wildcats. Although Shoreham held a 41-27 advantage in shots and a 31-24 edge in ground balls, turnovers cost the Wildcats.
Coach Mike Taylor said, “We’ve been having a lot of trouble with turnovers, and again today we just turned the ball over uncontested, and if you give a good team like Sayville multiple chances, or anyone, you know that you’re going to pay the price. I can remember 10 uncontested turnovers in the first half. Those things end up killing you.”
The only time either side led by three goals was at the start, when Arline assisted on a pair of Cairo goals before scoring himself for a 3-0 lead. Arline, a sophomore attack, had two goals from 15 shots and six assists, giving him 49 goals and 50 assists for the season.
But Sayville was able to match Shoreham’s firepower, thanks to production from players like Gallagher, Russo, Lyons (two goals, two assists) and Gonzalez (two goals, two assists).
Gavin Gregorek brought Shoreham two goals, two assists, 14 ground balls and won 16 of 27 faceoffs. John Schwarz and Anthony Cimino added two goals each while Liam Daly made seven saves in goal.
Shoreham sent three shots off the pipe — two by Arline and one by Cairo.
“We had our opportunities, including myself; we just didn’t execute,” Arline said. “Everyone says after a loss you learn more than you do after a win. This stings in this one because you know you can’t get it back. I just feel bad for these seniors.”
Shoreham says goodbye to 13 of them, including six starters.
“I’m so proud of the way they played,” Taylor said. “It was not giving up. They fought all the way till the end, no matter if we were up or down, they kept playing, literally right to the end. If they keep giving me that effort, how can I ever be upset as a coach?”
Photo caption: An airborne Xavier Arline scores one of his two goals for Shoreham-Wading River in its 15-14 playoff loss to Sayville. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)