Shoreham-Wading River has its Xs and Os in place. An X (the supremely talented Xavier Arline) is a big part of its O (offense).
But it was another SWR lacrosse player, Gavin Gregorek, who stepped to the forefront when the Wildcats needed him most.
Gregorek scored all four of his goals during a tremendous 7-0 run that pulled SWR out from an 11-6 hole, including the goal that stood as the winner, bringing the Wildcats a wild 13-12 triumph over Cold Spring Harbor in the Long Island Class C final Saturday.
“I’m almost at a loss for words,” Arline said after SWR claimed its seventh Long Island championship and second in four years at Hofstra University’s James M. Shuart Stadium. “That shows team. That shows what we’re all about.”
A 6-1 spurt had put CSH ahead, 11-6, with 3 minutes, 9 seconds left in the third quarter. It didn’t look as if it would be SWR’s day. But the Wildcats (16-3) weren’t done.
Before the quarter ended, Alec Gregorek (three goals, one assist) put in a man-up goal and Gavin Gregorek also scored. That was the first of three straight goals by Gavin Gregorek before SWR’s John Erb, running to his right, bounced in a shot, tying the score at 11-11 with 5:39 left in the fourth quarter. Tyler Schwarz provided the go-ahead goal before Gavin Gregorek (Alec’s older brother) made it 13-11 with 2:53 remaining.
“I was cutting through and I was happy I could finish the ball,” Gavin Gregorek said. “I was stoked.”
SWR midfielder Dominick Visintin (three goals, two assists) said Gavin Gregorek “just steps up huge in the biggest moments. He’s a great off-the-ball guy and he’ll cut and he’ll catch it and he’ll finish it from anywhere. That’s how he scores all those goals.”
Alex Moynihan pulled a goal back for CSH (14-5) with 2:40 left.
SWR’s Trevor Kessel came up with a big ground ball with a little over a minute to go. CSH had a final chance at an equalizer, though, when the Wildcats threw the ball away. After a timeout with 5.6 seconds left, Danny Striano fired CSH’s last attempt wide and it was over. The comeback complete, SWR sticks flew in the air and the Wildcats rejoiced.
“Over time you learn to just enjoy the moments, so I definitely enjoyed the moment,” Arline said. “It doesn’t get any better than this. This is what it’s all about.”
What won the game?
“Determination,” said Arline, who had two goals and three assists. “We were down and everyone was staying up.”
SWR advances to a state semifinal against Rye at Adelphi University Wednesday.
Asked how much this championship means to his team, Gavin Gregorek said: “Everything … We get to play another game together.”
Gavin Gregorek, a junior midfielder, was named the game’s MVP. “Gavin played tremendous,” Arline said. “Without him, we lose that game.”
That’s not to say Arline didn’t turn in some of his usual magic of his own. In the third quarter he dazzled with a goal from an over-the-shoulder shot, and he made some divine passes.
“The thing with X is it doesn’t matter if he scores or if he feeds, if he has that assist,” Visintin said, “but the kid is a winner and all he wants to do is win.”
CSH, winner of five straight Nassau County titles, was led by Peter Licciardi’s four goals and two assists. Danny Striano added three goals and one assist. The Seahawks also received production from Moynihan (two goals, one assist), Will Giarraputo (two goals), Richie Striano (one goal, two assists) and Patrick Pisano (game-high six ground balls).
SWR was outshot, 36-28, but it was the final score that counted most.
“We just had to keep up the energy,” Visintin said. “Everyone had to keep their heads up.”
It was the second straight thriller for SWR, which survived a battle with Mount Sinai in the Suffolk County final thanks to Anthony Cimino’s overtime winner.
On Saturday, SWR had another jolt to its nervous system.
Said Arline, “They gave us all a heart attack a little bit, but it’s worth it at the end when you win, right?”
Photo caption: Gavin Gregorek celebrates the goal that gave Shoreham-Wading River a 13-11 lead while teammate Johnny Schwarz leaps for joy. (Credit: Daniel De Mato)