Hall Of Fame Works To Keep Game Alive

 Huntington Softball Hall of Fame President James Coschignano Jr., left, and Vice President Clint Riggs, right, present SPS Nation sponsor and player Mike Ruconich, center, with a plaque for winning Division 2 in the Town of Huntington recreation softball league.

Huntington Softball Hall of Fame President James Coschignano Jr., left, and Vice President Clint Riggs, right, present SPS Nation sponsor and player Mike Ruconich, center, with a plaque for winning Division 2 in the Town of Huntington recreation softball league.

By Connor Beach
cbeach@longislandergroup.com

The Huntington Softball Hall of Fame recognized earlier this month the top recreational softball team in the Town of Huntington.

After a season that ran from the end of April until August, the SPS Nation team was crowned champions of Division 2 of the Town of Huntington slowpitch softball league.

Huntington’s slowpitch softball league has been in existence since 1976 and is made up of teams of co-workers and friends who meet for weekly competitive games at the town run softball fields at Milldam Park in Halesite.

SPS Nation mustered an impressive regular season record of 22-2 on the way to their championship victory. In addition to SPS Nation, the teams from Axis Construction and the Valencia Tavern captured lower division titles.

The Huntington Softball Hall of Fame was founded in 1978 and is comprised of men and women who have played a major role in the growth of softball in the Town of Huntington.

Hall of fame president James Coschignano Jr. said the organization decided to recognize the winner’s of the softball league’s top division this year in an effort to “keep softball alive.”

“We are still trying to keep softball alive and well in the town,” Coschignano said. “We felt we should try to keep it alive, so we decided to donate a plaque to the winning team.”

SPS Nation’s victory in Division 2 made them Huntington’s top team because there were not enough teams to compete in Division 1.

Softball leagues have a rich history in the Town of Huntington.  At the time the Huntington Softball Hall of Fame was founded the games were fastpitch, Coschignano said, but the league has since changed to slowpitch.

Coschignano recalled days when he used to play softball almost six nights a weeks in several different leagues, but said the sport’s popularity is diminishing.

“There used to be six or eight leagues in the Town of Huntington, plus the firemen’s league,” Coschignano said. “It seems to be fading away, not that many people are playing any more.”

Despite the league’s shrinking size, Coschignano said the friendship and camaraderie created through softball is unmatched.

“That’s how all these people in the Hall of Fame met; we used to play against each other for years,” Coschignano said. “There’s definitely a level of camaraderie having known these people and played against them or with them.”

The Huntington Softball Hall of Fame will celebrate its 40th anniversary on Oct. 6 with an induction ceremony at Northport Yacht Club.

Wildcats Roar To A 2-0 Start On The Season

 Senior quarterback Quinn O’Hara (No. 3) leads the Walt Whitman football team onto the field before their 35-24 win over Sachem North.

Senior quarterback Quinn O’Hara (No. 3) leads the Walt Whitman football team onto the field before their 35-24 win over Sachem North.

By Connor Beach
cbeach@longislandergroup.com

The Walt Whitman High School football team is off to an undefeated start this season. The Wildcats sit atop Suffolk’s Division 1 standings after a high scoring 49-46 victory at home against Brentwood on Sept. 7 and last Friday’s 35-24 home win against Sachem North.

After a 2-6 record last season, last weeks victory over the Flaming Arrows of Sachem North, who beat the Wildcats last year, could be the beginning of a comeback season for Whitman.

But a Wildcat victory didn’t always seem likely when Sachem North came to town. The Flaming Arrows dominated the first half with two huge plays. A 63-yard rushing touchdown and a 76-yard touchdown pass put Sachem North ahead 14-0 after the first quarter.

The Wildcats’ defense settled down in the second quarter and their offense began to move the ball. The Whitman offense, led by senior quarterback Quinn O’Hara, scored 21 unanswered points in the second quarter.

Three of O’Hara’s four touchdown passes came in the second quarter, two of which were caught by senior wide receiver DaShawn Thompson. Thompson finished with four catches for 59 yards in the game.

The two teams went into the locker room at halftime with the game tied at 21, but momentum was firmly with the Wildcats.

Whitman’s defense dominated the second half, holding the Flaming Arrows to just a field goal. Grant Christensen, Jarrett Dalimonte, Tim Hunter each had an interception for the Wildcats, and junior linebacker Alex DiLorenzo recovered a fumble. Eric Bell and senior linebacker Christian Viteri each recorded eight tackles in the game.

The fourth quarter was all Wildcats. O’Hara showed his skills on the ground as well as in the air with a one yard touchdown run. He ran the ball 11 times in the game for 40 yards.

Whitman capped off the game with a late touchdown pass from O’Hara to wide receiver Kendall Wilkerson. The touchdown catch was Wilkerson’s second in the game, and one of seven total receptions for 77 yards.

The Wildcats hope to keep their undefeated streak alive when they travel to Bay Shore on Saturday where they are scheduled to take on the 0-2 Marauders at 1 p.m.

Strong Players Demonstrate A Will to Win

 Seahawks on the sidelines during the team’s 36-0 victory at Island Trees on Sept. 7.

Seahawks on the sidelines during the team’s 36-0 victory at Island Trees on Sept. 7.

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

After winning their past two games, the Cold Spring Harbor football team is hitting its stride early.

The team is finding its rhythm, head coach Jon Mendreski said. He attributes the team’s success to the previous season, partly because he has many returning players that have played together before, but also because the team lost in the county championship final last year, making them want it even more.

“They realized they want to get back to that county championship and they want to win that game,” Mendreski said. “They have it in their sights and continue to work hard for it.”

Even though Mendreski believes there are still areas to improve on, he feels as the season progresses they will put in more work and figure it out. Last year, the team graduated around 20 seniors, which gives them of “young crop” of kids to work with. During the first few games, Mendreski and his staff have been watching the boys to devise their strategies.

“We’re trying to find out our identity,” Mendreski said. “I think we have a pretty good idea after the first two games. What we’re all about, what we can and can’t do, and now we’ll build off of that going forward.”

Mendreski highlights his captains’ work so far this season, considering them all standout players, they are Raymond Costa, Thomas Milana, Richie Striano and Aidan Adomaites. He mentions the Striano family, made up of senior, Daniel and junior triplets, Richie, Dom, and Peter, as very influential players for team. There is also Anthony Naccarato, who is a center and inside linebacker, that does a lot for the team and demonstrates great leadership. Mendreski considers Ethan Burdo and Kolton Gagnon, who play both offense and defense, phenomenal players. Also, his wide receiver and defensive back Casey Reynolds, scored a 46 yard touchdown pass last week.

“We’re fortunate that we have a good offensive and defensive line,” Mendreski said.

“And our skills guys, we’re deep into skill positions.”

Along with coaching football, Mendreski teaches math to grades 7-12 and coaches the school’s crew team. He has coached football for 10 years, with this being his third year as head coach and has coached crew for 15 years.

“They both are constantly relying on your team sports. If you’re talking about a team sport, those would both be close to the top of the list,” Mendreski said.

The team has a big home game this Friday at 7 p.m. against Locust Valley and expects a tough schedule of games moving forward. They are looking forward to playing Seaford later in season, as they are the one seed and Cold Spring Harbor is the two seed.

“We’d like to get back to that championship game and make it a win this time,” Mendreski said. “Then get to the Long Island Championship in Stony Brook this year, that’s the goal. We gotta win two more games than we did last year.”

Mixed Start For Highly-Ranked Northport

 Senior midfielder Elizabeth Cianciotti pushes the offense forward for the Northport Lady Tigers.  Long Islander News archives photo

Senior midfielder Elizabeth Cianciotti pushes the offense forward for the Northport Lady Tigers. Long Islander News archives photo

By Connor Beach
cbeach@longislandergroup.com

The top ranked team from the Town of Huntington in girls soccer coming into the 2018-19 school year are off and running this season.

The Northport Lady Tigers were ranked at the top of this year’s preseason polls and are expecting a successful season on the pitch.

The Lady Tigers are looking to repeat as Suffolk County champions again this season under coach Aiji Gipp. The Lady Tigers went 18-2-1 last season, losing only one regular season game and the Long Island title game to Massapequa.

The season started well last Wednesday when the Lady Tigers opened the newly created Suffolk 1 division with a 2-0 win over Patchogue-Medford.

Opposition goalkeeper Cat Saxon made seven save in a valiant losing effort, but Northport just had too much in the locker.

Junior forward Olivia Carner got her name on the score sheet, while Lexi Sperling netting Northport’s second goal.

Goalie Bailey Piper has some big shoes to fill in net after Emma Havrilla graduated in June, but a four-save shutout in her first game of the season was a good start.

The Lady Tigers were quick to share the ball, and eager to communicate with their teammates.

As a result, Izzy Yeomans and Paige Leonard each earned the assist on one of Northport’s goals.

The Lady Tiger failed to build on this initial success two days later in their second game of the season when they struggled against Sachem East.

After a goalless first half, the game could have gone either way when the teams took the field for the second half.

Despite six saves by Piper, Sachem scored two second half goals to clinch a 2-0 victory against the Lady Tigers.

Northport looks to get back to winning ways this afternoon when they host the undefeated Thunderbirds from Connetquot at 4 p.m.

Coach Believes They ‘Have What It Takes’

 John Glenn boys soccer game on Saturday, Sept. 22, will be followed by a ceremony honoring Sgt. Christopher Raguso, a former player who was killed when his helicopter went down on the Iraq-Syria border on March 15.

John Glenn boys soccer game on Saturday, Sept. 22, will be followed by a ceremony honoring Sgt. Christopher Raguso, a former player who was killed when his helicopter went down on the Iraq-Syria border on March 15.

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

The boy’s varsity soccer team at Elwood-John H. Glenn High School is off to a solid start this season, with a record of 5-0, the team is undefeated and hope they can keep it up the rest of the season.

This year, the team’s coach, Lou Hanner, believes his team could win the county championship, something they have not done in more than 10 years. In the last three years, the team has lost only five games. Hanner attributes his team’s success to his players working in harmony on the field.

“We have had a great group of guys who have grown into the team culture,” Hanner said.

The team is playing two big games this week, on Wednesday, Sept. 12 against Shoreham and on Friday, Sept. 14 against Southampton. They will both be tough matches, but Hanner believes his boys can win if they put into play all the techniques and plays they have practiced for weeks.

“We have a traditional system, things that we do are real simple,” Hanner said. “But we try to keep bleeding it... we keep running the play again and again.”

Hanner is in his 21st year of coaching soccer at John H. Glenn High School and feels he has a system that works for his team. At the moment, one of his captains and four year starter, Adam Astarita, is leading Suffolk County in scoring goals. His other captain, Nick Weiss, exemplifies hard work by getting into the starting lineup by putting in extra work during the offseason and summer sessions.

“I feel like some programs and coaches are more concerned about coaching style than worrying about results,” Hanner said. “I mean, we’re coaching a varsity high school, competitive, interscholastic sport so ultimately with our team, we’re playing to win. I’m playing to win games, I’m trying to teach our guys to win and be successful at life.”

The program does have simple rules that the coaches enforce with the team, that they believe teaches them discipline. Hanner is less concerned with a players style and how they play, instead he wants them to “follow and fall in line.”

“You’re not at practice on time, you will sit,” Hanner said. “We’ll have one of our captains not start tomorrow because he came late to practice. I’ve been telling the kids since day one, if you’re late, you’re gonna be dealt with. So because he’s the captain, he doesn’t have to sit? No, everything breaks down if you do that.”

Another reason the team has been able to work well together is because the team continues to play through the offseason. Starting the week after winter break, Hanner holds intramural soccer games on Friday mornings before school starts from 6-7 a.m. This extra play time gives them a leg up on other team’s who only play during the season starting in June.

It also gives Hanner and his coaching staff a chance to observe their players and learn more about their playing styles and commitment. Typically, 10-20 students will participate in a game and those who do find it helps them greatly. The intramurals are open to the entire school so at times Junior Varsity players will join a game and give the coaches a chance to look forward to future players.

“You learn about who’s committed, the guys who are there every single week and the guys who never come,” Hanner said. “You choose not to come there on a Friday morning, no one has other practice, no one has a band lesson, no one has other conflicts. So either you show up on Friday and get an hour’s worth of work in or you don’t come.”

The season really picks up in June during Brookhaven Summer League. This is when coaches can figure out who their core group of players are.

One team they are most looking forward to playing against is Centereach, who are the defending State Class B champions and won against John Glenn twice last year. If the team can make it through the playoffs, they will likely face them in County Semi-Finals or Finals. The next team they would play would be the Nassau County Finals winner, then they would go on to the Final Four State Championship.

But first, they must conquer their county, which is looking to be more difficult this year than ever since New York state recently changed the class system to drop more schools from Class AA to Class A.

“We’re one of the smallest schools in the class, but we’ve been good enough to win them... we just haven’t yet,” Hanner said.

Sgt. Christopher Raguso Memorial
The team is also looking forward to their game on Saturday, Sept. 22, that will be followed by a memorial ceremony for Sgt. Christopher Raguso, a former player and graduate of John Glenn that was killed in service when his helicopter went down on March 15. The team will be putting up a flag pole and monument in his honor and have a GoFundMe set up to raise money for the memorial. The game is at 10 a.m. and the ceremony is scheduled to begin at 12 p.m.