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Top Sports Stories 2019: Memorable run to state title

When the playoffs began for the Shoreham-Wading River boys lacrosse team in late May, they faced a Bayport-Blue Point team that had won 11 straight games. The Wildcats had finished one spot ahead of the Phantoms in the Division II power rankings.

As first-round opponents go, the Phantoms appeared to present a formidable challenge.

On a Monday afternoon at Thomas Cutinella Memorial Field, the Wildcats quickly began to pick apart the Phantoms’ defense. From the second quarter into the third, the Wildcats scored 10 unanswered goals. By the time the final horn sounded, the Wildcats had earned an 18-9 win.

If the rest of the Class C teams around New York didn’t take notice, they should have. The Wildcats were peaking at just the right time as the playoffs began.

The win sent the Wildcats into the county championship, where they faced an unbeaten Mount Sinai team. The game would go down as an overtime classic.

The game saw five lead changes and the score was tied six times. In overtime, Xavier Arline found Anthony Cimino for the game-winning goal as SWR triumphed, 14-13. It was SWR’s 13th county championship and third in four years.

The drama hardly subsided in the Long Island final a few days later. The Wildcats fell into an 11-6 hole against Cold Spring Harbor before Gavin Gregorek helped spark the team to a late rally. He scored all four of his goals during a 7-0 run as the Wildcats came from behind to win 13-12.

Two more wins awaited before winning a state title, and those proved easier to come by. Eighth-grader Alec Gregorek scored four goals in the semifinals against Rye as SWR won 13-6. In the state finals, the Wildcats jumped out to an early lead and never trailed against Jamesville-DeWitt, winning 12-7. The Wildcats captured the fourth state title in program history.