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Riverhead’s Dorr twins sign on for college lacrosse

It seems as if the Dorr twins are inseparable.

C.J. Dorr and his sister, Mackenzie, both began playing lacrosse when they were 5 years old. They went to each other’s games as the years went by.

“Super close,” was how C.J. described their relationship. He added, “She’s always there for me and I’ll always be there for her.”

So, it was only appropriate that the two Riverhead High School seniors, who live in Calverton, shared the same table for their national letter of intent signing ceremony Friday, pens in hand, smiles on their faces. Although the Dorrs will play for different colleges, they will be only about a two-hour drive away from each other. C.J. is headed for Wingate University in North Carolina and Mackenzie will attend Newberry College in South Carolina. (Both NCAA Division II schools, by the way, compete in the South Athletic Conference).

“It was surreal,” C.J. said. “It was everything I dreamed about [as] a kid. I always dreamed about playing at the highest level possible, and this is a dream come true for me.”

Why Wingate?

“The location was great,” said C.J., who had also considered Queens University of Charlotte. “I actually have some family down in North Carolina, so it actually worked out that way. The coach and team is everything I ever wanted out of a college lacrosse program. It’s very fitting.”

C.J., a midfielder, has been on the varsity team since he was a freshman and was a starter by the time he was a sophomore. He was named a team captain after last season was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Riverhead boys lacrosse coach Vic Guadagnino called C.J. “an old-school, 1970s-style midfielder. He plays both ends of the field very well.”

“C.J. has been and is a special player for us,” he continued. “I think he’s carrying a torch for what Riverhead lacrosse players have been like. He’s a very unselfish, team-first type kid.”

Guadagnino referred to a photo he saw of C.J. in a playoff game at Ward Melville two years ago in which he was fully extended horizontally, trying to gain possession of the ball. It’s a photo that captures the essence of C.J., the player.

“That is like the quintessential C.J. right there of him full out, selling out, for the good of the team,” Guadagnino said. “I think that picture tells me everything you need to know about C.J. Dorr.”

Mackenzie, a goalie, said she was looking to attend a small college “where everybody could meet everybody.” She found that in Newberry, saying her college choice was a “clear-cut” decision.

Because she had senior goalies ahead of her, the junior varsity team needed her services and last season was canceled, Mackenzie never got to play for the varsity team. “It did hurt a little bit, but I understood why,” she said.

Megan Pepe, a varsity assistant who coached Mackenzie for two years at the J.V. level, said Mackenzie “understood that what the team needs comes first, and she had a great attitude about it.”

In addition to being a good shot-stopper, Mackenzie is also adept at clearing the ball on the transition to offense and isn’t shy about leaving her goal area, said Pepe.

Mackenzie was a member of the Long Island Yellow Jackets when they won a national under-13 championship in Indianapolis in 2016.

An older sister, Sabina Dorr, played lacrosse for Riverhead and St. Francis University in Pennsylvania.

Not only did both C.J. and Mackenzie miss out on playing their junior seasons because of the pandemic, but their senior seasons have been lost since Riverhead cut sports from its budget.

“It’s definitely very frustrating as an athlete, not just me,” C.J. said. “It’s really hard for everybody and we all got to adapt.”

Signing on to play in college eases some of that sting.