Jack Schirtzer didn’t do anything odd, like accidentally walk into the Shoreham-Wading River huddle. Still, it had to feel strange for Schirtzer, now a member of the Mount Sinai boys lacrosse team, to line up against SWR, a team he had played for less than a year ago.
At least in some small measure, Schirtzer must have felt mixed emotions when SWR and Mount Sinai, arguably two of the best teams in Suffolk County Division II, faced off Friday in what could be a preview of the Suffolk Class C final. Despite wearing Mount Sinai’s home white uniform, the junior long-stick middie is friends with many of the players who wore SWR’s navy blue and gold.
“It was very interesting because I’ve been with those guys literally my whole life, so playing against them felt good, but it was a hard game,” he said after first-place Mount Sinai (13-0, 11-0) retained its unbeaten record with an impressive 14-9 defeat of SWR.
Schirtzer attested to feeling “very nervous” in the early going, but those nerves dissipated as the game progressed, perhaps thanks to the considerable efforts of his new Mount Sinai friends. Russell Maher finished with five goals, Joey Spallina put up four goals and two assists and Tyler Gatz registered three goals and an assist for Mount Sinai. The Mustangs showed their quality, charging out to a 3-0 lead on goals by Spallina, Gatz and Bobby DeMeo. They never trailed. DeMeo had a goal and an assist, as did teammate Brandon Ventorolo.
“Saves and faceoffs and possessions” were the difference, Schirtzer said. “Whenever we had a possession we made the best out of it.”
Not even a career-high six goals by SWR junior midfielder Johnny Schwarz was enough to help the Wildcats (9-2, 9-2) prevent their second straight loss. They had suffered a 12-5 non-league defeat in Garden City eight days earlier.
The only other SWR player to pick up a point was junior attackman Xavier Arline, who tallied three goals and three assists.
“I think turnovers affected our game,” Schwarz said. “I though we played good ‘D’ at times, good offense, but just the turnovers really killed us.”
SWR twice pulled to within one. Schwarz’s first two goals trimmed the Mount Sinai lead to 3-2 before the Mustangs responded with a pair of Maher goals, the second coming with four seconds left in the first quarter. Then Arline worked some of his magic, finishing a leaping, righthanded shot 1 minute, 37 seconds into the second quarter. More “X” artistry followed 2:04 later when he punctuated his goal pulling SWR within 5-4 by turning to the Wildcats’ bench and going down to one knee while executing an emphatic fist pump.
That was as close as it got for SWR, though. Mount Sinai ran off the next six goals, including two each by Spallina and Maher. Spallina’s third goal of the game might have been the flashiest of the day, a tricky piece of no-look work over his right shoulder.
With the help of faceoff man Kevin Sweeny, Mount Sinai won 15 of 24 faceoffs. Nico Nigohosian made 10 saves.
“It’s definitely a kick in the butt,” said SWR goalie Liam Daly, who was credited with five first-half saves, including a fantastic stop on Maher. “We just got to keep preparing because our coaching staff does a great job of preparing us for every game … Every year there’s always going to be a few games where we’re not on top of our game, but it’s just going to help prepare us for later in the season.”
Between the two teams, there was a lot of talent on the field.
“We have a lot of individual talent but I think teams are what wins games,” said Mount Sinai coach Harold Drumm, whose Mustangs lost to Islip in last year’s Suffolk Class C final.
Schirtzer has been doing his part, the coach said. “It’s got to be a lot of pressure on him, you know, I’m sure,” Drumm said of Schirtzer facing his former team. “Obviously, he’s a very good player and he moved into Mount Sinai, so it’s obviously an awkward situation for him. We’re real proud of how he handled it. We actually tried not to make a big thing of it. We didn’t want to put more on his shoulders than he needs. We just came out to play a lacrosse game and do what we do well.”
Meanwhile, two straight losses to high-quality opponents aren’t anything for the Wildcats to fret about. “These are just bumps in the road,” said Schwarz.
A SWR-Mount Sinai rematch could be in the near future, with a lot more at stake.
“We’ll probably see them again,” Schirtzer said. He added: “I know everybody here is determined to win, which is what I’m looking for. I’m very excited about that.”
Photo caption: Mount Sinai’s Jack Schirtzer, a former Shoreham-Wading River player, is chased by SWR’s Tyler Schwarz during Friday’s game. (Credit: Bob Liepa)