Wildcats stay competitive in tough loss to reigning County champs

Shoreham-Wading River lost 11-7 to an undefeated Mt. Sinai on Tuesday afternoon at Tom Cutinella Memorial Field. After a solid 6-0 start to the season, the Wildcats have lost four straight, putting their playoff hopes in jeopardy.

Mt. Sinai (10-0 Division I, 12-0 overall) have been untouchable this season. A year after winning the Suffolk County championship, the Mustangs are back for more. They’re truly in a class of their own, having toppled third-seeded Hauppauge last Thursday 12-1, a team the Wildcats lost to by a score of 14-6. 

“They have some good pieces returning from last year’s run,” SWR lacrosse head coach Mike Taylor said of Tuesday’s opponent. “They were a very good team last year with great leadership. They’ve been on championship runs on Long Island and off Long Island so I think that’s a big thing for them and their confidence.”

One key takeaway for SWR (6-4, 7-5), is the fact that they were able to stay competitive. Had they avoided a few crucial turnovers, perhaps the Wildcats might have come out victorious. 

“Against a good team like that, any mistake you make will end up in the back of our net,” Taylor said. “That’s the difference between an experienced team like theirs and a young team like ours. Mistakes are going to happen.”

There were a few missed shots from the front of the net, several unforced turnovers and just not enough urgency corralling loose-balls. But the scoreboard showed that it could have gone either way. Jaden Galfano made some tremendous saves in goal to keep the Wildcats in the game. He finished with 10 saves, 4 of which he made in a crucial, tone-setting first quarter.

Though Mt. Sinai kept finding ways to score, the game never got out of hand. After a Liam Kershis goal cut the lead to 7-4 in the third quarter, a Steven Cain bullet from outside the crease clanged off the goal post and bounced in front of the net where Liam Gregorek scooped it up and slid it past the goalkeeper to pull the Wildcats to within two. 

But in a game this tight, where every possession matters, apprehensiveness is a liability in the offensive end. For the rest of the game, the Wildcats had trouble making the smart pass and gave the ball away too often without maintaining a solid offensive possession. Kershis did go on to score his second and third goals of the game in the fourth quarter but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Mustang’s cohesive offensive attack. 

“The problem we have is that we have so much talent in our attack but only one ball,” Taylor said. “Everyone wants the ball and is not selfish. They want to do the right thing for our team but unfortunately we need to play a little better together.”

The good news is that of the Wilcats final four games, three will be played on their home field. If they can string together some wins, they will be right back in the playoff picture. 

“We haven’t been playing to our true ability,” Taylor said. “I think at some point it will turn back to what it was at the beginning of the season. You don’t have to win every game,” he continued. “You just need to make the playoffs. After that, who knows what happens.”