Wildcats headed to county finals following dominant win
Revenge has been served.
Shoreham-Wading River traveled to Bayport-Blue Point High School Tuesday afternoon and knocked off the No. 2 seed 13-6 in dominant fashion to earn themselves a spot in the Suffolk County Class C title.
With the 10-8 loss on their home field in late April fresh on their mind, the Wildcats wanted to come out strong and leave no doubt as to who was the better team on the field.
“We played this team and lost earlier in the year,” junior captain Liam Kershis said. “I was happy to come into this game as the underdog. I wanted them to overlook us. All week in practice we decided to keep our heads down and work.”
Kershis made a statement from the start. With the defense draped all over Alec Gregorek, one of the top goal-scorers in all of Long Island, Kershis absolutely wreaked havoc in the Phantoms’ defensive end and made them pay for their decision-making. He scored the game’s first three goals in the opening minutes. The attacker hit Bayport-Blue Point with all the moves in his arsenal: jumping out from behind the net and bouncing a shot in, a dodge-and-shimmy from the front to find an opening and a full-throttle speed assault finding the top left corner of the net.
“What can I say? The kid is a stud,” SWR head coach Mike Taylor said. “There’s a reason he’s going to Duke. He’s the real deal.”
Kershis scored a total of 6 goals on the day but none were more impressive than his fifth goal midway through the 4th quarter. Following his early scoring spree, the Phantoms assigned a defender to stick by his side and follow him all over the field – not giving him any space to breathe. As he approached the net, the defender tried to dislodge the ball by digging his stick in Kershis’ armpit and lifting up his arm with force. As the SWR sideline screamed for a foul, Kershis simply shook off the defender with a spin move and launched the ball in the top right corner of the net.
“When the ball is in his stick, good things tend to happen,” Taylor said. “We have such a luxury having Kershis and Gregorek. You can’t stop both. It’s just not going to happen.”
“Before this, honestly, I felt like our season was a disappointment to say the least,” Kershis said. “We lost five games this year. We had to lock in hard today. Even in school today, just looking at our seniors — guys that I consider my brothers, guys that I love — I just realized this could be their last game and I didn’t want that to happen. I brought my all.”
Bayport-Blue Point (14-3) never had a chance. They barely had possession of the ball, thanks to Will Miller. The Wildcats’ face-off specialist was an absolute terror in the midfield circle, winning draw after draw, using his quick reflexes and leverage to pull the ball in his direction. Miller won 19 out of 22 face-offs. It’s hard to score if you never have the ball.
“I’ve just been doing it for so many years,” Miller said of his faceoff prowess. “It’s something that I’ve worked on since my childhood. I take a lot of pride in winning those battles.”
“That offense over there is so potent,” Taylor said. “They just never got in a rhythm. We dominated possession and that’s what won us the game. Winning the face-offs is so crucial in beating a team like that.”
Alec and Liam Gregorek each scored two goals for the Wildcats. Steven Cain, Ryan Herr and Alex Kershis also tallied one goal a piece. The closest the Phantoms got was within three goals. The lead was never threatened.
Jaden Galfano was incredible once again in goal, stopping 11 shots, many from close range. The defense clamped down when necessary and refused to allow anything easy. Bayport-Blue Point averaged 13 goals per game this season — the Wildcats held them to only 6.
“What I saw today was a unit that was hungry,” Galfano said. “I saw a brotherhood sticking together and refusing to lose. We’re sending our seniors out on top. Nothing less.”
“Our confidence was nicked a little during the season,” Taylor said. “Safe to say we got our swagger back.”
The Wildcats will face No. 1 seed Mt. Sinai in the Class C Suffolk County championship next Tuesday at Stony Brook University.
“We just need to play exactly how we played today,” Liam Gregorek said. “Offense and defense. Same unit. Together as one.”