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Boys Lacrosse: First-place SWR looks primed for playoffs

Something in the makeup of coaches seems to always have them striving for and desiring more, not settling. And so it is with Shoreham-Wading River boys lacrosse coach Michael Taylor.

Asked if he believes his team is ready for the playoffs, which are right around the corner, Taylor chose his words thoughtfully and carefully.

“I think we’re close,” he said. “I guess maybe I’m never gonna be satisfied. I think, you know, you can always get better. So I think we have done well, but I think we have to continue to grow and mature as a team, you know. I think we’re getting there, but I know that the playoffs are a complete different animal, everyone’s different, so we need to be different and raise that level as well.”

Those remarks came shortly after SWR had turned in an impressive all-around performance, soundly thrashing visiting Eastport-South Manor, 18-5, on a rainy Friday evening at Thomas Cutinella Memorial Field. SWR’s offense was humming, its defense was solid and the Wildcats looked razor sharp.

“But we’re gonna continue to get better, no matter what. You have to,” said Alec Gregorek-Ali, who had five goals and two assists for SWR, as did Liam Kershis in the Suffolk County Division II game. “That’s what I’m looking forward to.”

Undefeated SWR (13-0, 12-0) sits in first place, but can’t rest on its laurels. Not now. The Wildcats have three regular-season games remaining, all against high-caliber competition. Saturday they will play at Bronxville, Monday they will visit Miller Place and Thursday they hit the road again to close out the regular season against rival Mount Sinai for the fourth year in a row. Mount Sinai started Friday in second place in the power-rated division with a 13-0, 11-0 record.

How important is it to finish in first place?

Francisco Cortes gave Shoreham-Wading River a 7-1 lead with this first-quarter shot while Eastport-South Manor’s Daniel Odell defends. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)

“It doesn’t mean much to me, honestly,” Gregorek-Ali said. “We can play anybody and I am confident in our team that we will play well, and, you know, we just worry about us, you know, not about anybody else.”

SWR certainly gives opponents enough to worry about. That was clear from its play Friday. SWR outshot Eastport, 36-18, and dominated in ground balls, 37-14. William Miller won 14 of 15 faceoffs and scooped up 10 grounds balls while Liam Gregorek-Ali took 10 of 12 faceoffs with nine grounds balls to go with two assists for SWR. The Wildcats won all 17 faceoffs in the first half.

SWR also received three goals and two assists from Steven Cain and three assists from Ryan Wilson. Francisco Cortes added a goal and an assist. Ryan Farron, Max Barone, Owen Taylor and Alexander Kershis also scored.

SWR reeled off 10 straight goals for an 11-1 lead by the time the second quarter was 4 minutes, 45 seconds old.

Eastport (4-9, 3-9) received two goals and one assist by Preston Vinch, one goal and one assist by Peter Theodoropolous and single tallies by Daniel Odell and Jesse Weick.

Alec Gregorek-Ali (48 goals, 18 assists) and Liam Kershis (35 goals, 27 assists) are among Suffolk’s top scorers.

“Those two guys are a dynamic duo,” Taylor said. “In my opinion, we’re blessed to have two superstars, right?”

Their talents will be needed in the coming days, particularly in the playoffs. The Wildcats know anything can happen in the postseason, like their overtime defeat to Bayport-Blue Point in last year’s Suffolk Class C semifinals.

“I don’t think [finishing in first place] matters so much to me,” Liam Kershis said. “I think we should focus on what we have to do rather than who we have to play in the playoffs. So whether we play the sixth seed or the fifth seed, I don’t think it matters. We play our ‘A’ game and we’ll come out with a win.”

Taylor said his players are “super talented skill-wise, so it’s more a mental game and I think they’ve come a long way. I think we still have a long way to go, you know. Playoffs are coming up and such and I’m hoping it’s gonna be a long playoff season. We’re gonna have to keep getting better.”

Sounds just like something a coach would say.