When Shoreham-Wading River midfielder Kevin Cutinella saw his parents, Frank and Kelli, come onto the field to present the plaque to the winning team after Saturday’s Long Island Class B championship game, he experienced an emotional overload.
“It was amazing. I love them. They’re always behind me. What a great experience. I can’t really put the words together,” Cutinella said after scoring four goals to lead the Wildcats to an 8-6 victory over Garden City at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium.
Kevin also knew that his parents were there on the field, at the request of Suffolk boys lacrosse coordinator Tim Mullins, to honor the memory of his older brother Tom. Tom Cutinella died after an on-field collision in a football game on Oct. 1, 2014.
“We gave the plaque to the seniors,” Frank Cutinella said. “That’s Thomas’ class. He’s with us today.”
It was Kevin, however, who stole the show. He scored twice early as the Wildcats (18-2) took a 3-0 lead. Then, after Garden City (14-6) rallied to take a 4-3 lead, Cutinella fed Joe Miller for the tying goal and scored on a solo dodge for a 5-4 lead with 4:52 left in the third.
When the gritty Trojans moved within 6-5 on a bouncer from the right side early in the fourth, it was Cutinella who made another dodge from behind the cage and finished for a 7-5 lead with 7:33 left.
Eighth-grader Xavier Arline’s spectacular no-look backhander made it 8-5, and the Wildcats were on their way to the state Class B semifinals against Yorktown at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday at Hofstra.
“They had a [long-stick defender] on Jon and a short stick on me, so I was able to take advantage of that,” Cutinella said.
Cutinella, a junior, has been a clutch performer throughout the playoffs. He scored the tying and go-ahead goals against Comsewogue in the county semifinals and against Sayville in the county final. “He’s almost like a quarterback out there,” SWR coach Mike Taylor said. “He’s moving slowly but he scans the whole field. And his shot selection was just great.”
So was the play of the Wildcats’ reluctant goaltender, Jimmy Puckey, a 6-2, 285-pound senior and starting lineman on SWR’s last two undefeated Long Island football champions. He’s a close friend of the Cutinellas and Kevin revealed, “He’s never really liked lacrosse. He even skipped the winter workouts and just showed up in the spring.”
He showed up big Saturday, making nine saves, many from close range. “It’s not my favorite sport,” Puckey said with a grin and a shrug. “It’s nothing like football. It needs more hitting and less of me getting hit with the ball.”
But, as Taylor said, “He may not love the sport but he loves his teammates.”
After the best game of his career, Kevin Cutinella said he had “a lot of things going through my mind. I was thinking of Tom, of course. And seeing my parents on the field, it just made my day.”