Alec Gregorek wanted to seize the moment.
The Shoreham-Wading River attacker said he knew he’d have chances to score Wednesday afternoon and made sure he didn’t waste them, leading the Wildcats to a 13-6 victory over Rye in the New York State Class C semifinal at Adelphi University.
Gregorek, an eighth-grader, racked up four goals and two assists as Shoreham-Wading River clinched a berth in Saturday’s state championship against Jamesville-Dewitt at 3 p.m. at St. John Fisher College in Rochester.
“It was all about ball movement and quick tempo,” Gregorek said. “We needed to play smart and everything went our way. We had to stick our shots and we did.”
Shoreham-Wading River (17-3) picked its way through Rye’s defense, jumping out to a 6-3 lead at halftime, and coach Mike Taylor credited the team’s pre-game preparation for its early success.
Taylor said that in the Long Island championship game against Cold Spring Harbor, the Seahawks "ran a sort of zone to stop Xavier (Arline) and we thought that other people may try that, so we worked on that the last two days. We put in the work and you can see that’s an investment for success.”
Gregorek added that Rye’s focus on Arline, who still netted a goal in the second quarter, helped open up other players on offense, all of whom were determined to pad the Wildcats’ lead.
Dominic Visintin, Johnny Schwarz and Gavin Gregorek each chipped in two goals in the win.
“They were paying so much attention to Xavier, that they didn’t focus as much on the surrounding players,” Gregorek said. “They paid for it. It’s not a one-man team. Our whole offense is shooters.”
Shoreham-Wading River continued to bring pressure throughout the game, but it was the Wildcats’ defense that proved the difference-maker. It forced 22 turnovers and allowed 20 shots, including eight on net, keeping Rye from finding a rhythm or staging a second-half comeback.
“We watched a lot of film and we knew what their offense was going to be,” said defender Tyler Schwarz. “We knew how to cover it, kept our sticks in the lane and knocked down passes.”
Schwarz led the Wildcats defense-to-offense mindset and, with 7:54 on the clock, scored on a quick play up the field to give Shoreham-Wading River an 11-5 lead. The play highlighted a five-goal quarter as the Wildcats wrapped up the win.
“We run a lot and we’ll be playing, full speed until the end,” Schwarz said. “It felt really good.”
Now, Shoreham-Wading River turns its attention to the state title game, looking to capture the program’s first championship since 2012. The Wildcats are confident, but Gregorek said he doesn’t expect the squad to do anything differently.
It’s another game and another moment and the Wildcats don’t want to let it pass them by.
“We’re just going to keep focusing,” Gregorek said. “We know it’s going to be a good game and we’ve got to work hard for it.”