The goal, well, was just X-traordinary.
What else does one expect from Shoreham-Wading River’s X Man, Xavier Arline?
It came on Arline’s first shot of the season, almost 10 minutes into SWR’s first boys lacrosse game of the season Thursday. The junior attackman hardly had shooting room and his back was to the Bayport-Blue Point goal. But, as those who have seen the All-American honorable mention play enough know, that is when he can be his most dangerous.
Arline executed a behind-the-back, over-the-shoulder shot that didn’t give Bayport goalie Orlando Diaz a chance. A little “X” magic to help get the season started on the right foot.
“I’ve been doing that move since I can remember,” Arline said. “… It’s like second nature to me.”
Arline was his usually productive self in SWR’s 8-6 Suffolk County Division II victory on its own Thomas Cutinella Memorial Field, but that goal was the talking point in postgame interviews.
Teammate Dominick Visintin’s eyes lit up when he was asked about it. “Oh my God,” he said. “I just saw it coming, and it was crazy.”
SWR coach Michael Taylor said: “I don’t even think half the people knew it went in the net. I’d love to say that was lucky, but he does that in practice. I’ve seen him do that 17 times in the past two weeks. Maybe I’m spoiled and I don’t get as shocked as I used to, but he is a walking highlight reel.”
Arline, who has verbally committed to N.C. State, put up 49 goals and 50 assists last season. What he will do this season is anyone’s guess, but judging by his performance Thursday, he is looking at another big season.
Arline scored three goals from seven shots and assisted on four others. But it was Visintin, a senior who can play attack or midfield, who came to SWR’s rescue in crunch time. Visintin scored two goals in the final 3 minutes, 10 seconds to snap a 6-6 tie and enable SWR to bounce back from a two-goal halftime deficit.
SWR allowed only one second-half goal, a long-range shot by J.J. Aiello off a pass from Devin Benvenutti that tied things at 6-6 with 5:12 left in the fourth quarter.
Then Visintin went to work, scoring on the only two shots he took. He initiated the sequence on the go-ahead goal by throwing the ball down to Jeffrey Lachenmeyer, who then swung it to Arline. Arline found Visintin, who picked a spot in the bottom right corner of the goal with 3:10 left. Shortly after, Diaz vacated the Bayport goal, and Visintin obligingly scored the insurance tally with 1:22 to go.
Trevor Kessel scooped a big ground ball and Tyler Schwarz made an interception to help SWR salt the triumph.
SWR’s strong second half made up for a first half that saw the Wildcats commit some un-SWR-like turnovers.
“I knew it was going to be a good test for us,” Taylor said. “We have a lot of kids who haven’t played varsity before … You could see the tightness, like the tentative passing.”
Benvenutti netted all four of his goals in the first half, with another strike by Kenny Hannaford for a 5-3 Bayport halftime lead.
Arline rattled off a pair of third-quarter goals, the second coming while he was falling forward, to even terms at 5-5. Then Johnny Schwarz whirled to his right and connected for his second goal of the day — and SWR’s first lead since Gavin Gregorek made it 3-2 early in the second quarter.
Diaz made 11 saves for Bayport. Liam Daly (four saves) and Rob Troyano (one) played a half each in the SWR goal.
Taylor saw good value in the game for his team. He said, “I’m very happy with the way they responded and now I get to see exactly what we have to work on, and there’s a lot.”
One thing the Wildcats don’t have to worry about is goal-scoring artistry from Arline, who admits he gets a kick out of scoring snazzy goals. “Not only does it get a charge out of me, but it gets a charge out of the sideline,” he said. “It gives us energy, which helps everyone.”
As far as ranking Thursday’s goal among some of the other memorable Arline moments he has witnessed, Visintin said: “That’s nothing for him. He’s got more to give, trust me.”
Photo caption: Xavier Arline’s behind-the-back, over-the-shoulder effort on his first shot of the season brought him one of his three goals for Shoreham-Wading River in its 8-6 win over Bayport-Blue Point. (Credit: Daniel De Mato)