Shoreham-Wading River coach Michael Taylor was smart enough to put the ball in Xavier Arline’s stick with the game on the line. Arline, in turn, was smart enough not to try and force a shot that wasn’t there. That’s how the ball found Anthony Cimino’s stick before ending up in the Mount Sinai goal.
That’s smart lacrosse.
Cimino, who had been quiet offensively up until that point, whizzed in his only goal of the game 27 seconds into sudden-victory overtime as SWR triumphed, 14-13, in the Suffolk County Class C final at Farmingdale State College Tuesday night. After 17 wins this year, it was the first loss for top-seeded Mount Sinai, which was the last undefeated team on Long Island, according to Newsday.
It’s SWR’s 13th county championship and third in four years. The Wildcats advance to the Long Island final against Cold Spring Harbor Saturday at Hofstra University.
The game saw five lead changes and the score tied six times. “That’s a Long Island battle,” said Taylor.
The last of those lead changes was set up when SWR’s Gavin Gregorek won the faceoff to start overtime and Jeffrey Lachenmeyer picked the ball up. The No. 2 Wildcats (15-3) called timeout and play resumed with Arline, SWR’s greatest scoring threat, who had six goals and two assists, in possession.
With the Mustangs focused on Arline, he zipped a pass to Cimino, who then fired a shot past goalie Nico Nigohosian to set off the postgame celebration.
“X was doing his thing, and I was just there to finish the ball,” Cimino said. “If he’s throwing me the ball, I know I’m open. I can just finish.”
Arline said Cimino “was a little quiet, but he came up big when it counted.”
Arline had a tremendous first half, striking for five goals to help SWR to a 9-7 halftime edge.
“Xavier just seemed to have the hot hand, so our plan was if we can win the faceoff [in overtime], obviously, I was putting it in his hands,” Taylor said. “I think it was quite poetic, though, that he became a feeder instead of a goal scorer after that. That’s just the type of player he is.”
Thanks in good measure to Mount Sinai’s Bobby DeMeo (six goals, one assist) — and a lackluster third quarter by SWR in which it was outscored, 5-1 — the Mustangs took a two-goal lead into the fourth quarter. That’s when SWR’s Johnny Schwarz came up big for two of his four goals and Arline netted his sixth to knot the score at 13-13 with 4:55 left in regulation time.
“You got to keep the intensity because this game is full of runs,” Cimino said. “They make a run, we make a run. It’s simple.”
Before the fourth quarter ended, though, Nigohosian (six saves) made a pair of big saves on Jake Wilson.
An Arline pass was intercepted by Tyler Gatz (one goal, two assists). With the clocking running down, Mount Sinai’s Russell Maher (two goals, three assists), with Wilson on him, fired a low shot wide of the mark. As time expired, a Gatz shot was stopped by goalie Liam Daly (11 saves).
“Liam’s been clutch all season,” Arline said. “He came up big when it counted, just like big players do.”
In April, SWR lost at Mount Sinai, 14-9. This time, though, the Wildcats looked better prepared against the regular-season Division II champion.
It helped SWR’s cause when Jack Schirtzer, a former SWR player who covered Arline, was lost to injury in the third quarter. He had scored a goal.
Gregorek, Tyler Schwarz and Jack Erb had a goal each for SWR.
Aiding the Mount Sinai cause were Dominic Boscarino (one goal, two assists), Joey Spallina (one goal, one assist) and Brandon Ventorola (one goal, one assist).
“That’s a juggernaut of a team,” Taylor said of Mount Sinai. “That’s a well-coached, well-oiled machine that no one’s come close to. That’s one of my quality wins for my career, for sure.”
Arline put on a quality performance, playing to the crowd after his goals. “You only get this opportunity so many times, so when you’re in it, you’ve got to enjoy it, every aspect of it,” he said.
Cimino surely seemed to enjoy basking in the postgame limelight. Asked about the stamp he put on the game, he said: “Amazing. It couldn’t feel better. I’ll never forget this.”
Photo caption: The Shoreham-Wading River Wildcats celebrate after winning their 13th county championship and third in four years. (Credit: Daniel De Mato)