By Gavin Menu; photography by Michael Heller
For 30 minutes at Westhampton Beach High School on Tuesday, players for the East Hampton boys lacrosse team had an upset victory on their minds. That was until the Hurricanes blew open a 2-2 tie in the second half to claim a 10-3 victory that sent the Bonackers home with a 1-5 record in Division II play.
Westhampton, meanwhile, improved to 4-2 and moved into third place in the division standings behind Miller Place and Huntington.
“Unfortunately, for us, we have breakdowns where teams go on three- or four-goal runs,” head coach Mike Vitulli said on Tuesday. “We just haven’t been able to get that signature win. It’s just a matter of learning to close out games.”
The loss on Monday followed a tough 9-3 loss at home to Kings Park on April 8. That game was close early as well, but the Bonackers were once again held in check offensively during the last two quarters.
“Their goalie was the difference,” Vitulli said, referring to Kings Park keeper Michael Greco, who had 14 saves. Sean Toole, another Pierson athlete who plays in goal for the Bonackers, had 12 saves in the game.
“Our goalie played well,” Vitulli added, “but their goalie stood on his head.”
Pierson’s Drew Harvey, the Bonackers’ leading scorer, and Jack Schleicher, another Pierson athlete, each scored a goal apiece in the two games last week, while Toole made 14 saves against Westhampton.
Vitulli on Tuesday pointed out that Long Island is one of the top two or three areas in the country for lacrosse, and that competition will always be extremely high in Suffolk County. So even as local youth leagues swell across the East End with large numbers of players, the task of developing a consist winning program remains a huge challenge.
“Kids play in the youth leagues, and then they play in middle school, but the travel commitment becomes an issue for some kids,” said Vitulli, whose program, like others in East Hampton, has struggled with participation. “The kids play other sports and have other commitments. We hope the numbers improve, but with so few kids we’re doing the best we can.”
East Hampton will host Mattituck/Greenport/Southold (2-4) on Tuesday, April 22 at 4:30 p.m.