Wildcats stay perfect with hard fought win over Comsewogue

Whenever the Shoreham-Wading River and Comsewogue boys lacrosse squads face off, one thing is certain: it’s bound to be a classic.

The Wildcats stole this year’s version of the classic on Wednesday at Shoreham-Wading River high school thanks to 9 assists from Duke University-bound Liam Kershis. The final score read 13-11 but it really could have gone either way.

“It was an absolute battle and we expected no less,” Kershis said. “These guys put up a fight every year and it’s never easy. It was just one of those dogfight type of games.”

After Alex Kershis got on the board with a goal for the Wildcats, Comsewogue closed out the first quarter with four consecutive tallies, putting the hosts in their biggest hole of the early season. Kershis was spotted on the sidelines having an animated conversation with fellow senior Liam Gregorek after the quarter ended.

“It may have looked heated but to us it was just a normal conversation,” Kershis said. “We were just trying to figure out how to break the Comsewogue defense. With us being seniors, it’s on us to kind of lead the way for the team.”

Like lightning, Shoreham-Wading River (2-0 Division II) struck in the opening minute of the second quarter with a Ryan Wilson goal off a Kershis feed. Fifteen seconds later, it was Gregorek who found the back of the net. He doubled that effort with another goal after a clever pass from Kershis with nine minutes left to play in the second quarter to tie the game.

“When you play a game like this, it’s like a preparation for the biggest games we’ll have later in the year, like the Suffolk County championship,” Gregorek said. “It’s great to have these games in the beginning of the season to not only see where we are but also prep for the future games. We love games like these, keep them coming.”

But Comsewogue refused to give in, scoring the next two goals to regain the lead with five minutes remaining until halftime. This was the real test for the Wildcats. Could they answer the bell again?

Wilson and Alex Kershis both scored again to tie the game at 6-6. Gregorek whipped his third goal past the goalkeeper to take the lead and his brother Noah Gregorek extended the lead with a quick shot in front of the net seconds before halftime. Liam Kershis assisted on all four goals.

“I was talking to Comsewogue’s coach after the game about how this rivalry grows every year,” SWR head coach Mike Taylor said. “It’s always a fist fight. Regardless of the outcome, to play in a game like this only helps both squads. It’s a game we both need for the rest of the season.”

Though Comsewogue (1-1 Division II) fought back from four goals down to get within one early in the fourth quarter, the Wildcats kept scoring and were able to put the game away. Oddly Liam Kershis’ lone goal came off an assist from himself late in the fourth quarter as his initial shot bounced off the crossbar right to him for a quick put back into the top right corner. Often double or even triple teamed, Kershis repeatedly made the right plays for his team.

“We practiced all week on how to break their zone,” Kershis said. “We tried to overload one side and I was on the weak side of the overloaded zone which allowed all the skip passes to be there. So really I had the easy job of finding them and they had the hardest job of putting it in the back of the net.”

The Wildcats have scored 13 goals in each of their two games which shows the dominance of their offensive attack. But giving let up 11 goals against Comsewogue, despite a mostly senior-led defense, caused some concern for Taylor.

“We had a stretch through our playoff run last year where we didn’t give up more than six or seven goals,” Taylor said. “That’s why we were so successful. I think we were just playing a little loose out there today. It’s not just the defense, it’s the midfield as well. We need to get back to where we were at the end of last season. I just don’t see that fire we had last season and it’s going to have to be fixed.”

SWR will return to action April 3 against Eastport-South Manor.