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On This Day In History | 1998

May 26, 2011


On this day 13 years ago the boys lacrosse team won a thriller, 9-8, over Shoreham-Wading River to advance to the Suffolk County Class B Championship; however, it had not been an easy road to the finals.  The word that defined the ’98 campaign was “adversity” as the team lost two of the best players in the county as well as an additional four starters to injuries.  Three of the replacements had never played lacrosse before and two freshman had to fill holes in the starting lineup.  Stony Brook preaches character, something that captains Jay Miaritis and Kevin Graves would have to display in order for the blue and white to overcome.  Despite their many setbacks, it was a triumphant regular season as the Brook posted an 11-4 overall record, arranging a County semifinal showdown with Shoreham-Wading River, whom the Bears had dispatched 16-0 just 3 years earlier.

The Brook had no such comfort level in the rematch as the upset-minded Wildcats took a 4-3 lead into halftime.  ”We told Miaritis at halftime that he’s one of the few seniors that has been here since we won the title in 1995,” said John Kenney to Newsday, “and it’s going to fall to the seniors to do that kind of job.”  The Wildcats netted the first 2 tallies after haltime to build a 6-3 edge, but the Bears responded as Sean Metz scored one of his 4 unassisted goals with 2:44 remaining in the quarter.  Stony Brook then tied the game at 6 just 1:35 into the 4th on goals by Mike Titus and Nate Kenney.  A frenetic pace ensued as Shoreham grabbed the lead right back, netting a shot 36 seconds later, and Miaritis tied the game just 37 seconds after that.  The Bears then took their first lead since early in the 1st quarter when Metz scored on a dodge from behind the cage.  The day seemed to be Stony Brook’s, but the Wildcats put the celebration on hold, knotting the contest on a 15-yard bullet with a mere 47 seconds remaining.  The moment cried out for a leader and one clad in blue and white responded.  With 29 seconds on the clock Miaritis rose to the challenge given by coach Kenney, providing the winning score on a bounce shot that seemingly traveled 5 mph, found a seam, kissed off the net and fell along with the dreams of SWR.  ”We had the experience and we knew what it took to win this game,” said Miaritis to Newsday, “and we went out and did it.”  The Bears had overcome all the odds to earn an unprecedented 5th straight berth in the County Final.

Miaritis’ Late Score Helps SB Advance

The Stony Brook boys lacrosse team needed a lift from someone who had been there before, a battle-tested veteran who had endured his share of playoff wars over the past four years.

And with the new kid on the block giving the Bears everything they could handle, senior attackman James Miaritis stepped up and delivered.

Miaritis scored two unassisted goals late in the fourth quarter, including the game-winner with 29 seconds left, to give second-seeded Stony Brook a dramatic 9-8 win over No. 6 Shoreham-Wading River yesterday in a Suffolk Class B semifinal at Ward Melville.

The Bears (12-4) will make their fifth consecutive appearance in the final when they face top-seeded and two-time defending champion Comsewogue at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Hofstra. It will be Miaritis’ fourth trip to the title game.

“We told James Miaritis at halftime that he’s one of the few seniors that has been here since we won the {Suffolk B} title in 1995,” Stony Brook coach John Kenney said, “and it’s going to fall to the seniors to do that kind of a job. He had some great plays towards the end.”

“We had the experience and we knew what it took to win this game, and we came out and did it,” Miaritis said.

Stony Brook needed Miaritis’ heroics because the Wildcats (10-8) demonstrated throughout that they were for real. Shoreham, in only its fifth season, was making its first playoff appearance after going 1-15, 1-15, 7-9 and 8-8.

“The seniors were there with the drubbings years ago,” Wildcats coach Tom Rotanz said. “We owed it to them to turn the program around, taking the No. 2 team to 30 seconds left.”

Shoreham led 6-3 late in the third quarter before Sean Metz scored one of his four unassisted goals with 2:44 left in the third to give the Bears momentum heading into the fourth.

Miaritis set up Mike Titus for a goal 1:19 into the fourth, and freshman Nathan Kenney tallied 1:35 later as Stony Brook tied the score at 6. But senior Jim Vlahakis (three assists), Shoreham’s All-County attackman, notched his first goal of the game on a bouncer just 36 seconds later, before the Bears evened the score again on a wraparound goal by Miaritis 37 seconds after Vlahakis’ goal.

Then with 3:37 left, Stony Brook took its first lead since early in the first quarter as Metz also dodged from behind the cage and unleashed a shot as he was leveled to give the Bears an 8-7 lead.

Peter Vlahakis, Jim’s younger brother, won the ensuing faceoff and Shoreham followed with a long possession, but couldn’t get a good shot off as Stony Brook’s defense tightened. Finally, Shoreham delivered a tough bouncer that was topped by David Pike.

Shoreham’s Ryan Wolfe picked up a ground ball at the other end, quickly rushed upfield and fed Darren Deegan (two goals, two assists), who rifled a 15-yarder past Pike to tie the score at 8 with 47 seconds left.

But 18 seconds later, Miaritis made a dodge to the right of the cage, moved past the defender who was fronting him and delivered the winning shot past Ben Gildea (13 saves), who was terrific throughout the game.

“Now we’ve just got to get ready for Comsewogue,” defenseman Ben Bitonti said. “You know they’re good, but it’s going to be fun.”

~ Gary Glancy, Newsday



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