Close losses and injuries combined to make this a frustrating season for the Huntington High School boys’ lacrosse team, but the Blue Devils put all of that aside this week as they gave visiting Smithtown East all it could handle on Senior Day.
One of the top teams in Suffolk this spring, Smithtown East brought its high-powered offense to Blue Devil Stadium. Huntington kept pace for most of the game before the Bulls put some distance between the two teams late in the second half.
Smithtown East led 5-3 after the first period and 8-5 at halftime. By keeping the score close, Huntington had high hopes it could catch the Bulls in the second half, but it just wasn’t meant to be as the Blue Devils were outscored, 6-2 in the third and fourth periods.
Nat Amato (8 goals; 4 assists) led Huntington with three goals and an assist and Matt Gelb (27g; 23a) added a goal and two assists. Colby Martin (27g; 2a) scored twice and Luke Luckow (1g; 2a) also put the ball in the net. Garrett Moya (43g; 27a) had an assist. Goalie Sam Bergman made eight saves in the cage.
Led by head coach Kevin Travis and assistant coaches Julian Watts and Eric Triolo, Huntington went all-out every time it took the field. The Blue Devils dropped three heartbreaking one-goal games to Commack (10-9), Sachem North (13-12) and Connetquot (15-14). A win in any of three had the potential to turn the season around.
Senior Day Festivities
The Huntington seniors with the Blue Devil coaches.
(Mike Connell photo.)
Once the game had wrapped up, the coaches took turns speaking about each of the seniors as their parents and teammates stood nearby. A crowd of family and friends filled the bleachers for the Senior Day ceremony.
The team’s 11 seniors include Matt Gelb, Jared Leake, Matt Mattiace, Matt Meyers, Drew Monahan, Garrett Moya, Mark Rafuse, Austin Reda, James Shea, Ryan Stieve and Brian Weigold.
“Playing with some of these guys my entire life has been awesome,” Gelb said. “It was a great year and we will be a family forever.”
After so many years together, it will be hard for the seniors to all head off in different directions for college, but the bond they share will last a lifetime.
“Playing lacrosse for Huntington has meant a lot to me,” Moya said. “I have met some great people and I’ve loved every team I’ve been on. There’s so much tradition here that it makes every game mean something. Although I wish I could’ve helped to win a championship for this school, I’ve learned great skills that will help me at the next level. Go Devils.”
The Blue Devil boys’ lacrosse program is more than 60 years old and it boasts a tradition that few programs in the state can match.
“It has been a great ride,” Stieve said. “I’ve loved the highs and the lows. What it really has meant to me is being part of a family because that’s what we are; a family.”
The seniors will always remember their teammates. “It’s a great group of guys,” Mattiace said. “It was a bittersweet final [home] game.”
The 11 seniors are sad knowing their Blue Devil careers have concluded, but they are all happy to have had the experience. “Playing lacrosse at Huntington was a great experience for me,” Shea said. “Knowing all the great lacrosse players who have played here it is really cool to think that I’m in the same position as they once were. I’m happy I was able to play my whole life with the same guys and really get close with them.”
Many of the seniors have been on teams together since elementary school. “It’s been a fun experience playing at Huntington with the kids I’ve been teammates with forever,”Leake said.
The seniors will graduate with so many memories of their days wearing a Blue Devil uniform. “It’s been one of the greatest experiences of my life,” Rafuse said. “Playing with my good friends Ryan Stieve and James Shea was something special.”
The seniors were hoping to reach the playoffs and end their careers with a championship, but it just wasn’t meant to be. Yet, they gave Huntington everything they had and leave with their heads held high.
“Playing lacrosse for Huntington for all these years has been a great experience for me,” Reda said. “I will miss playing with all my teammates next spring, but I will never forget the memories we have made playing together for all these years. I am proud to be a Blue Devil.”
The coaches spoke emotionally about the seniors, sharing touching anecdotes and expressing their thanks and admiration to each one of the teenagers.
“This has been an amazing experience to have had and what made it even better was to have the opportunity to play with some of my best friends,” Monahan said. “Being a part of Huntington lacrosse will be a time in my life that I will never forget.”
Many years from now the seniors will look back at their final home game and the ceremony during which they were honored and a warm feeling will come over them.
“I have felt a great sense of pride playing for a team with such a great tradition and to do it with guys I’ve been with since elementary school made it even better,” Weigold said.