Authors Posts by Desirée Keegan

Desirée Keegan

Desirée Keegan
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The Tigers fought tooth and nail to top Sachem North, 14-12, on Tuesday afternoon.

Despite being down early, the Northport boys’ lacrosse team battled back to grind out another victory, to take a 16-0 win streak into the postseason, after going 11-0 in League I to earn the No. 1 seed.

“It’s very satisfying because the boys showed the traits they’ve had all season,” Northport head coach George Searing said of the win over Sachem. “They met some adversity, but the nice thing was that they didn’t fold. They persevered and they came back the way we were expecting them to.”

Northport scored an early goal, but Sachem countered a minute later, scored again, and didn’t trail thereafter until midway through the third quarter.

“It’s sort of been their trademark all year,” Searing said. “They don’t let this stuff bother them because they work real hard in practice and we prepare for situations, so it didn’t surprise me one bit that even though we got down and things were going against us, we still persevered and found a way to stick with the program, move forward and find a way to score those winning goals.”

Senior attack and co-captain Rocco Sutherland scored to tie the game at 2-2, and after two Sachem goals, one with 40 seconds left in the quarter, scored again with five ticks left on the clock to pull the team within one, 4-3.

Sachem pulled out to a 6-3 lead after Northport turned the ball over several times, and after a few key saves by senior goalkeeper and co-captain Scott Hatch, junior defender Finn Goonan recovered the ball at midfield and took it all the way for the score with 31 seconds left in the halftime, to close the gap 6-4.

The coaches pumped up their players in the huddle before they took to the field for the third time, shouting: “Take a look around you. I want to see people who are ready to go. Take it one play at a time. Focus. Who cares what they think is going to happen out there. We know what’s going to happen out there.”

Senior midfielder Nick Roros said something clicked for his team that the Tigers were able to pull it together.

“Our communication was weak in the beginning, but after halftime, we really communicated very well together and we understood what had to happen,” he said. “And we made it happen.”

Senior midfielder, faceoff specialist and co-captain Austin Henningsen also thought things changed for his team after halftime.

“We were down in the beginning, which was tough for us, but something really happened at halftime,” he said. “Coach got us fired up and we scored two goals in the first minute or minute and half, and we took off from there.”

Roros received a pass after a ground ball scoop up off the center draw, and rocketed a shot in at the 11:47 mark to pull his team within one goal, 6-5.

Two minutes later, senior attack Jake Carroll scored his second goal of the game while Sachem was a man down, to retie the game, 6-6.

After senior goalkeeper and co-captain Billy Kelly made a save in goal for the Tigers, Roros scored off an assist from sophomore Ryan Magnuson to give the Tigers their first lead since the first goal of the game.

Sachem tied the game and continued the pattern of last-second goals, scoring with nine seconds remaining in the third to pull ahead 8-7, but after Henningsen won the faceoff, senior attack Jack Sullivan answered with a buzzer-beater to tie the game, again.

Henningsen, who won 24 of 29 faceoffs, opened the fourth winning another, and faked a pass he took all the way to goal for the score and a 9-8 lead.

“I love throwing a fake pass, it’s a great play. I was running down off the faceoff, threw the fake pass to Roros and the guy fell for it, I kept going straight down and put it in the back of the net. But they have a great goalkeeper — he’s outstanding. I was even surprised it went in,” he said with a laugh.

Carroll and Magnuson connected for a goal for the second time in the game, this time to give the team its first advantage of the game, 10-8.

Kelly made another save, but Sachem grabbed the rebound and found the back of the net. The Tigers scored again, but Sachem countered with two goals to tie the game, 11-11.

Northport wouldn’t let Sachem take the lead again, and Henningsen won the ensuing faceoff and passed the ball to Roros in front for his hat trick goal.

“I think we all just realized that this could be our last game playing together,” Roros said. “We’ve all played together since we were little kids; we all love playing together and we didn’t want this to be our last time.”

Henningsen continued his dominating performance at midfield, leading to Sutherland’s third and fourth goal, as the Tigers pounced out in front, 14-11.

With 29 seconds left on the clock, Sachem gained possession after the ball rolled out of bounds, and scored with 11 seconds remaining in the game. Sachem called two timeouts in a row, but turned the ball over, and Northport held on for the 14-12 win.

“The biggest thing was Austin Henningsen on the faceoffs,” Searing said. “No matter what they did, we knew we would get the ball back, and that’s a very big confidence booster for a lot of our guys, because even if we make a mistake and we give up a goal, we know we’re going to get the ball back.”

Henningsen admits he started off a little shaky, but found his rhythm.

“They had some good defensive tactics on the faceoff today, but I figured it out toward the end,” he said of the team’s three-player lineup he was not accustomed to. “I knew what I was doing and I got comfortable with it, and kept winning. And the wing guys were phenomenal — boxing out so I could scoop it up.”

Searing continued to credit Henningsen, adding that because the team can continue to win possession after a score, as long as they don’t make too many mistakes and turn the ball over, teams don’t get on a scoring run against the Tigers, while, if Northport remains mistake-free, the team will continue to win faceoffs and score goals for runs of their own.

“He’s a very special player.” Searing said of Henningsen. “He’s got the heart of a lion and he was exhausted getting fouled and slashed, and he still persevered and sacrificed so the team could win this game.”

No. 1 Northport will host No. 4 Ward Melville at Veterans Park Friday at 4:15 p.m. in the Class A semifinal match, where the team hopes to keep its streak alive.

“We’re confident that we’re going to come out and play just the way we have been,” Searing said. “ It’s been a winning formula so far, so we’re hoping it can continue.”

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The Mount Sinai boy’s lacrosse team embraces one another in celebration of the Mustangs’ first-round playoff win over Islip, 6-4, on May 18. Photo by Desirée Keegan

The bond between seniors Danny Bullis and Dan Keenan spans nearly eight years, and the connection between the attackmen was evident on the field Monday as the two connected for half of the No. 3-ranked Mount Sinai boys’ lacrosse team’s goals in a 6-4 victory over No. 6 Islip in the first round of the Division I Class A playoffs Monday.

Mount Sinai’s Griffin McGrath scoops up the ground ball off the faceoff in the Mustangs’ 6-4 win over Islip on May 18, in the first round of the Division I Class A playoffs. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Mount Sinai’s Griffin McGrath scoops up the ground ball off the faceoff in the Mustangs’ 6-4 win over Islip on May 18, in the first round of the Division I Class A playoffs. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“We practice together all of the time … and there’s a good connection there,” Bullis said. “I always know where he is on the field so I tend to feed the ball to him.”

With the game tied 1-1 to the start of the second quarter, the team’s leading scorers connected for their first goal of the evening.

Less than two minutes in, sophomore Nick Cesario scooped up a turnover in the Mustangs’ zone and carried it all the way down the field before passing it to Bullis. Milliseconds after receiving the pass, Bullis dished the ball outside to the left of the goal to Keenan, who whipped it in past the goalkeeper to break the tie.

Senior Tony DiMonti scored next from 30 yards out off an assist from senior Jason Vengilio, and senior goalkeeper Charlie Faughnan made two big stops — one while the team was a man down — to preserve the 3-1 advantage heading into the halftime break.

“Playoffs are playoffs and every game is going to be a battle,” Mount Sinai head coach Harold Drumm said. “Islip is an excellent team, and we’re just really proud of the kids. They worked really hard.”

Mount Sinai’s Charlie Faughnan deflects the ball away from the net in the Mustangs’ 6-4 win over Islip on May 18, in the first round of the Division I Class A playoffs. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Mount Sinai’s Charlie Faughnan deflects the ball away from the net in the Mustangs’ 6-4 win over Islip on May 18, in the first round of the Division I Class A playoffs. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Bullis tallied the first goal of the third stanza off an assist by junior Griffin McGrath, and after Islip scored the next goal of the game to cut the lead in half, Keenan found the back of the net off another pass from Bullis to give Mount Sinai a 5-2 lead.

Islip refused to go down quietly and kept pushing for a goal. The team got an open look at the net, but couldn’t capitalize and made one final attempt with nine seconds left in the quarter, but Faughnan came through with another save.

“Charlie’s been playing outstanding,” Drumm said of his goalkeeper, who finished the game with seven saves. “Charlie saves us and bails us out a lot. Our defense does a great job, but Charlie is the backbone of that and he makes some saves that I just have to thank him after the game for.”

Islip squeezed a goal past Faughnan with 8:55 left to play, and just over a minute later, Bullis and Keenan connected for a final time, for Kennan’s hat trick goal.

“Dan Keenan, when he shoots overhand, he has one of the best shots in the league, without question, and Danny Bullis is an excellent lacrosse player,” Drumm said. “[Bullis] can feed, shoot, dodge, he does a great job. He looks for anybody that’s open. They work in practice together all the time and they work well together, so it’s a nice matchup.”

Mount Sinai’s Danny Bullis shoots the ball over an Islip player for a goal in the Mustangs’ 6-4 win over Islip on May 18, in the first round of the Division I Class A playoffs. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Mount Sinai’s Danny Bullis shoots the ball over an Islip player for a goal in the Mustangs’ 6-4 win over Islip on May 18, in the first round of the Division I Class A playoffs. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Islip scored once more two minutes later and threatened late in the game, but Mount Sinai’s defense shut down any Islip opportunities and the offense continued to pass the ball around the outside to eat some time off the clock and preserve the win.

“It was a good team win,” Bullis said. “Our defense was really solid, and goalkeeping, and offensively we moved the ball well. [In the second quarter] we just started making better choices on offense like possessing the ball; moving the ball, and it just started to click.”

Mount Sinai extended an 11-game win streak into the postseason, and will have another home game Thursday, where the team will host No. 7 Eastport-South Manor at 4 p.m.

“We had an excellent regular-season for us and we’re real proud of the guys, but none of that really matters at this point,” Drumm said. “What matter is now and we won the game today and moving into [today] we play Eastport-South Manor … and we’re prepared. We’ll go into that game knowing it’s going to be a game liked this — a battle — and just try to win every play and hopefully come out with a ‘W.’”

This version corrects the spelling of Tony DiMonti’s name.

Northport's Olivia Carner dumps the ball into the cage over the Bay Shore goalkeeper’s stick. Photo by Desirée Keegan

These Tigers are showing their teeth.

The Northport girls’ lacrosse team capped off the regular season with a six-game winning streak, holding Bay Shore scoreless through the first half Tuesday and trampling the Marauders 13-4, to prove they’re not a team to take lightly in the playoffs.

“I thought they played with confidence,” Northport head coach Carol Rose said. “We played aggressive on defense, fairly patient on offense and we were able to execute some of these fast-break opportunities that we had and not have any letdown in the second half like we had in the past two games. Maintaining the momentum was good.”

Northport senior attack Gabbi Labuskes put the team’s first point on the board after a foul call, and from there the team kept the ball rolling, scoring four more unanswered goals — with Labuskes scoring the last one — to take a 5-0 lead into the halftime break.

Northport's Gabbi Labuskes moves the ball across the field past two Bay Shore players. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Northport’s Gabbi Labuskes moves the ball across the field past two Bay Shore players. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“I think a big part of our win was going to be who won the first draw of the game; who came out 100 percent,” Labuskes said. “Moving the ball up the field was probably our biggest help throughout the game because we were able to transition the ball with half-field passes really quick and get it over the defense’s head. I think that played a really big factor.”

The senior attack scored the opening goal of the second half after she bulled her way up the middle and lobbed the ball overhead for her hat trick goal.

Northport junior midfielder Natalie Langella was next to score, followed by eighth-grade midfielder Olivia Carner, who dumped the ball in top center over the goalkeeper’s stick for her second goal of the game.

“They felt good about themselves and I think that that was key, especially when we were losing draw controls” Rose said of her team’s ability to score. “I think we only won four out of 18 draws. That’s not so good. To be able to come out on top with a 13-4 win and lose all the draws is pretty amazing. It also shows a great defensive effort.”

Northport junior attack Courtney Orella whipped one past the keeper next, and with 11:36 left to play, Bay Shore finally put a point on the scoreboard to avoid the shutout.

Labuskes took over on the draw and helped her team win possession, and on the next scoring play, two of Northport’s youngest players connected for a goal. Carner dished the ball in front of the net to seventh-grade attack Danielle Pavinelli, who scored for a 10-1 advantage.

Bay Shore tacked on another goal when an opponent beat out Northport eighth-grade goalkeeper Claire Morris. Labuskes followed with her fourth goal of the game, after clashing with two Bay Shore defenders and shooting over a cluster of defenders while sliding into the turf, and Bay Shore scored again to bring the score to 11-3.

“I think the defense has come a long way,” Rose said of her team. “They’ve been experimenting with three or four different types of defenses and they’re finally comfortable with a couple of them.”

Labuskes scored her fifth goal of the game off an assist by senior midfielder and co-captain Victoria D’Amato. After a Bay Shore goal, Pavinelli tallied the final goal of the game on a bounce shot with 23 seconds left on the clock.

Heading into playoffs, Rose would like to see her team focus on winning more draws and limiting the turnovers, but she’s confident in her Tigers, who finished the regular season 12-4 overall with an 11-3 mark in Division I.

“We only had three loses in the regular season — they were close, and I think it’s anybody’s game,” Rose said of heading into the postseason. “Whoever plays with the most head, heart and hustle will come out on top.”

The No. 3-seeded Tigers will face off against the winner of Saturday’s No. 6 Ward Melville versus No. 11 Half Hollow Hills game at home on Tuesday, May 19. The opening draw is scheduled for 4 p.m.

Like her coach, Labuskes is sure her team has what it takes to make a run this postseason.

“It feels deserved,” Labuskes said of the win. “I think this team can do whatever we want it to do. I think we have the potential to go all the way if we want to put the work in and if we want it that bad.”

Middle Country’s Christine Gironda races Smithtown West’s Natalie Lynch for the ground ball off the draw in the Mad Dogs’ 17-13 win over the Bulls on May 8. With the win, Middle Country goes undefeated in regular season play. Photo by Desirée Keegan

The Middle Country girls’ lacrosse team has made history, finishing a perfect season Friday with a 17-13 win over Smithtown West, to go undefeated for the first time in district history.

“The girls played awesome today, and honestly, at practice yesterday, we didn’t even talk about being undefeated,” Middle Country head coach Lindsay Dolson said. “These girls are smart, great lacrosse players. I don’t do much but steer the ship. Now we’re back to 0-0, and let the playoffs begin.”

Middle Country’s Nikki Ortega gains possession of the ball in the Mad Dogs’ zone, in her team’s 17-13 win over Smithtown West on May 8. With the win, Middle Country finished the regular season undefeated at 16-0, with a 14-0 mark in Division I. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Middle Country’s Nikki Ortega gains possession of the ball in the Mad Dogs’ zone, in her team’s 17-13 win over Smithtown West on May 8. With the win, Middle Country finished the regular season undefeated at 16-0, with a 14-0 mark in Division I. Photo by Desirée Keegan

The victory places the team first in Division I.

The Mad Dogs were off to a strong start as usual, lighting up the scoreboard and rattling off seven unanswered goals before Smithtown West midfielder Mackenzie Heldberg, a junior, put the Bulls’ first point on the board. Each team scored four more goals in the first half, to bring the score to 11-5 heading into the break.

“Every game we’re growing, we’re coming together and our chemistry is amazing on and off the field,” senior midfielder and attack Nikki Ortega said. “We’re best friends off the field, and it really shows when we play on the field. I’m so proud of the team, and it’s really all come together.”

Ortega got the ball rolling in the second half after senior goalkeeper Ashley Miller made a big save. Ortega passed the ball to classmate Allison DiPaola, who knocked a shot in early for the 12-5 advantage.

Senior midfielder Christine Gironda continued to aid the Mad Dogs in gaining possession off the draw, which helped her team continue to score and maintain its lead.

“Momentum is everything in this game, and winning the draws gave us so much more momentum and really put us up,” Ortega said.

Ortega continued a series of strong assists when she passed the ball to her younger sister, Jamie, a sophomore midfielder, and Miller followed with two saves to keep the Bulls at bay.

Middle Country’s Amanda Masullo squeezes between Smithtown West’s Kalya Kosubinsky and Katie Aldrich as she moves the ball up the field in the Mad Dogs’ 17-13 win over the Bulls on May 8. With the win, Middle Country goes undefeated in regular season play. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Middle Country’s Amanda Masullo squeezes between Smithtown West’s Kalya Kosubinsky and Katie Aldrich as she moves the ball up the field in the Mad Dogs’ 17-13 win over the Bulls on May 8. With the win, Middle Country goes undefeated in regular season play. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“That’s not how they play — they were definitely intimidated, without a doubt,” Smithtown West head coach Carie Bodo said of her team. “I think they put so much pressure on themselves, but in the second half, they were pissed, and they came out and played, and we outscored [Middle Country] in the second half.”

It took a little while for the Bulls to find their groove, and after Nikki Ortega scored off an assist from her younger sister to make the score 16-6 with 15:45 left to play, Smithtown West came back to score five unanswered goals — two by sophomore midfielder Kayla Kosubinsky — and force Middle Country to call a timeout.

“I think in the second half we really stepped it up,” Kosubinsky said. “I think we needed to figure out what we needed to do quicker in the game before there wasn’t much time left, but these girls are amazing and every person has their own role on this team and I think we all work so good together.”

The Mad Dogs regrouped in their huddle.

“This’ll show how much you want it,” Nikki Ortega said to her team. “If we want it, we’ll win.”

Jamie Ortega dished the ball to DiPaola for her hat trick goal, and although the Bulls tacked on two more to end the scoring for the game, Miller made two more stops, leaving the Mad Dogs with an undefeated season at 16-0 with a 14-0 mark in conference play.

Middle Country’s Jamie Ortega shoots the ball over a swarm of Smithtown West players in her team’s 17-13 win over the Bulls on May 8. With the win, the Mad Dogs finished the regular season undefeated at 16-0, with a 14-0 mark in Division I. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Middle Country’s Jamie Ortega shoots the ball over a swarm of Smithtown West players in her team’s 17-13 win over the Bulls on May 8. With the win, the Mad Dogs finished the regular season undefeated at 16-0, with a 14-0 mark in Division I. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“Once you have your first save down you have the adrenaline to keep going,” Miller said. “We all try to stay positive and we don’t get down on each other, but bring each other up. I feel like we have good motion going on, and we’re going to keep it going.”

Nikki Ortega finished the game with four goals and five assists, while Jamie Ortega also finished with nine points, off five goals and four assists. Behind DiPaola’s hat trick was sophomore Ava Barry and eighth-grader Sophie Alois with two goals. Sophomore midfielder Amanda Masullo tacked on a goal and an assist, and her twin sister Rachel rounded out the scoring with an assist, while Miller finished with a game-high eight saves.

“It’s something I never dreamed of ever doing,” Nikki Ortega said of going undefeated. “Although it puts a lot of pressure on us for playoffs, it’s the most incredible feeling.”

She feels her team still needs to work on being more composed, especially when its opponent applies pressure and comes back in a game. However, she thinks her team has what it takes to go further than its semifinal appearance last season.

“We have to keep our heads up,” she said. “Every game I play like it’s my last. This is how I’d want to end my season and my career at Middle Country. I think if there was any year that we could go all the way, it’s this year.”

Miller Place's Mike Bodnar maintains possession with a longstick midfielder pressuring to try and force a turnover. Photo by Desirée Keegan

The Panthers pounced early, and despite letting their advantage slip away, the Miller Place boys’ lacrosse team came away with a 7-4 win over Westhampton Beach Monday to improve to 11-2 in League III.

“Westhampton came here and they always play us tough,” Miller Place head coach Keith Lizzi said. “They come in, they run a tough defense and they had us thinking and trying to do different things every possession, but we were able to score in spurts and pull away at the end.”

Miller Place's Jake Buonaiuto makes his way past a swarm of Westhampton players. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Miller Place’s Jake Buonaiuto makes his way past a swarm of Westhampton players. Photo by Desirée Keegan

The first spurt came in the opening minutes of the first quarter. Miller Place senior midfielder and co-captain Brendan Callahan stuffed the ball in, less than a minute into the game, off an assist from senior midfielder and co-captain Thomas Liantonio. Just 30 seconds later, the team did it again. This time, sophomore midfielder Kevin Gersbeck scored off an assist from junior attack Chris Nielsen.

Next, it was senior attack and co-captain Jake Buonaiuto’s turn, when he scored unassisted for an early 3-0 lead.

Miller Place’s defense drove Westhampton to take difficult shots as the Panthers surrounded their opponents and forced turnovers, but with 5:56 left in the quarter, Westhampton put its first point on the board.

Liantonio scored a goal of his own next, after Buonaiuto picked up an offensive rebound and passed it out and across the field to the senior midfielder, who whipped it in for the 4-1 advantage to end the first 12 minutes of play.

“The quick goals were definitely a good momentum booster, but we didn’t really take it and run with it,” Liantonio said. “We stalled out.”

Forced turnovers and saves by Westhampton’s goalkeeper, who made 13 during the match, kept Miller Place scoreless in the second, while the Hurricanes tacked on one goal to cut the Panthers’ lead to 4-2, heading into the halftime break.

“In the opening minutes we came out hot and then we kind of settled in,” Lizzi said. “Their defense settled in I think, too, and it was just trying to figure each other out offensively and defensively.”

Westhampton was able to get the ball rolling, and in the opening minutes of the third stanza, the team scored two quick goals to tie the game, 4-4.

Kevin Gersbeck pulls back to fire the ball across the field for Miller Place. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Kevin Gersbeck pulls back to fire the ball across the field for Miller Place. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Miller Place won faceoffs and scooped up some ground balls, but bad passes that bounced out of bounds helped the Hurricanes regain possession.

“We got a little complacent,” Buonaiuto said. “We thought we could just score, score, score, but obviously, that didn’t happen. We just needed to relax, find and get back into our rhythm, and find our way, which we did.”

With 5:45 left in the third, Buonaiuto, from behind the cage, passed the ball to Gersbeck in front, whose shot was saved by the goalkeeper, but bounced back behind the net. Buonaiuto scooped it up and again passed it in front to Gersbeck, whose shot hit its mark this time, for a 5-4 advantage.

Miller Place made a few big saves to preserve the lead heading into the fourth, and the Panthers held the Hurricanes scoreless, while Buonaiuto and Liantonio connected for another goal. This time, Liantonio assisted after scooping up a ground ball in the Panthers’ zone and taking it all the way up the field before passing to Buonaiuto, who rocketed his shot into the back of the cage. With 2:51 left to play, Nielsen connected with Gersbeck for the final score of the game, and Gersbeck’s hat trick goal.

Junior goalkeeper Jake Bowrosen finished with seven saves, while classmate Joe Kessler made five.

“Defensively, we really had a good game I thought,” Lizzi said. “Both goalies played excellent and [senior] Christian Stalter played great at the faceoff ‘X.’”

With two regular-season matchups left before the playoffs, the Panthers will first travel to Harborfields Friday at 4:45 p.m. and follow by hosting Elwood-John Glenn on Tuesday, May 12, at 4:30 p.m. Miller Place is looking to take wins and momentum into the postseason.

“Our fundamentals weren’t there — passing and catching, we didn’t clear the ball well, didn’t catch, threw the ball out of bounds a lot and had a lot of turnovers today,” Liantonio said. “Every guy here brings something different to the team. We need to play a full game, cut down the turnovers and try to find a way to win.”

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Corey Aviles, after forcing a turnover, races across the field and fires a shot across the net for a Patriots goal. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Being down 3-1 early against championship-caliber boys’ lacrosse program in Chaminade didn’t scare the Ward Melville Patriots.

The host team bounced back to tie the game in the second quarter and eventually edged ahead, holding onto a marginal lead to pull away with a 7-5 nonleague win.

“Chaminade is a great program,” Ward Melville head coach Jay Negus said. “It was a slugfest and our boys took a big step beating a powerhouse like Chaminade and I’m very proud of them. Even though it wasn’t as pretty as I would have liked in terms of execution — we had some breakdowns — we just wanted to put four quarters together and we did that today. We got the result we were looking for.”

Danny Bucaro maintains possession of the ball. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Danny Bucaro maintains possession of the ball. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Both teams came out on fire right off the opening faceoff, and Chaminade scored two quick goals before Ward Melville put its first point on the board to cut the deficit in half. The two teams traded possession with some passing miscues, and at the end of the first quarter the score remained 2-1.

The Flyers (now 8-2, 5-0 NSCHSAA AAA) scored again in the opening minutes of the second to edge ahead with a score of 3-1, but the Patriots (now 10-2, 6-2 League I) answered back with two quick goals. The first was a stick-side high left shot by junior midfielder Owen McAvoy to cut the lead to one. The second was a rocket from the right goal post by senior midfielder Corey Aviles after he forced a turnover in the Patriots zone, carrying it all the way down the field for the tying goal at 3-3.

“It’s great to get a big win against a school like Chaminade,” McAvoy said. “It’s the first game we really came out here and went balls to the wall — and put it to them.”

McAvoy added another goal off an offensive rebound that shocked the Chaminade goalkeeper, and Aviles tallied his second point with nine seconds left in the half to give his team a 5-3 advantage heading into halftime.

Negus addressed his team during the break and explained to his athletes that the game was all about seizing the opportunities when they were presented to them.

“You guys are taking that next step to be at that level with this team,” he said. “We got to give the defense a rest. Bury the ball and make this game out of reach.”

Still struggling to win possession at the faceoff, Chaminade capitalized early in the third to make it 5-4, but Ward Melville junior goalkeeper D.J. Kellerman came through with two big saves to preserve the one-goal advantage.

D.J. Kellerman attempts a save. Photo by Desirée Keegan
D.J. Kellerman attempts a save. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“I felt confident,” Kellerman said. “A little shaky in the beginning, but my defense really shut it down. I love them — they’re great.”

Ward Melville ripped another crossing shot to bring the advantage back to two, 6-4, and Kellerman caught another save to maintain the lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Senior midfielder Jake McCulloch rocketed a shot from nearly 20 yards early in the final stanza, and Chaminade scored once more a minute later. Kellerman made three big saves in the final minutes to keep the Flyers at bay and seal the Patriots’ 7-5 victory.

“It’s a big win for us as a program,” Kellerman said. “We had a tough loss against Northport [6-7, on April 22] but we bounced back. Coach did a great job getting us ready and we’re a hardworking team.”

What McAvoy said he thinks continues to lead the players to success is that ability to continue to fight, even when the team is down.

“We were fighting for ground balls and hustled all over the field,” he said. “We were fired up in the locker room and thought this could be a big statement make for us. We laid some bodies all over the field and really made them feel our presence.”

Aviles and McAvoy finished with two goals each, and McCulloch and senior attack Danny Bucaro tacked on a goal and an assist apiece, while Kellerman made 13 saves on the evening.

Ward Melville was scheduled to host Brentwood on Wednesday. The Patriots will travel to Patchogue-Medford on Friday, and the opening faceoff is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.

“We’ve been talking about fighting back against adversity and that shows the character of the team,” Negus said. “Today we showed that we can battle back against the best of them.”

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Comsewogue's Sarah McKoy and Seaver Lipshie double-team a Deer Park player on the way to the Warriors' 17-7 win on April 27. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Comsewogue hammered out a 17-7 victory on Monday in a girls’ lacrosse matchup against Deer Park, dominating the home team and scoring seven unanswered goals in a nine-minute span alone.

Hannah Dorney, a Comsewogue midfielder, crosses into Deer Park's zone on her way to a double hat trick and the Warriors' 17-7 win on April 27. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Hannah Dorney, a Comsewogue midfielder, crosses into Deer Park’s zone on her way to a double hat trick and the Warriors’ 17-7 win on April 27. Photo by Desirée Keegan

With the win, the Warriors improved to 9-3 overall, with an 8-3 mark in Division II.

Comsewogue midfielder Jamie Fischer, a sophomore, won the opening draw and with the game not even two minutes old, freshman midfielder Hannah Dorney fired a shot straight up the center for the first goal. Minutes later, Dorney did it again. The score 2-1 after a Deer Park goal, the Warriors regained possession off a Deer Park save and senior attack Haley Lochren’s shot hit its mark.

Dorney bounced another shot in halfway through the first for a hat trick, then made it 5-1 with an over-the-shoulder shot into the left side of the goal before Deer Park managed to get on the scoreboard again. The Falcons scored again with 10:10 left in the half to bring it to 5-3.

Comsewogue rotated midfielders at the draw and continued to win the ball, keeping it away from the competition. Dorney scored her fifth goal of the game at 9:19, blazing the trail for the team to light up the scoreboard six more times, ending with a Fischer buzzer-beater.

Jamie Fischer, a Comsewogue midfielder, collides with a Deer Park player on the first draw of a game the Warriors' won 17-7 on April 27. Fischer scored a hat trick in the match. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Jamie Fischer, a Comsewogue midfielder, collides with a Deer Park player on the first draw of a game the Warriors’ won 17-7 on April 27. Fischer scored a hat trick in the match. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“Today we definitely did great on the draw,” Fischer said. “I think that’s so important because we definitely need to keep possession.”

Lochren opened the second half with two straight goals, the first assisted by sophomore Julia Tuohy. After a Deer Park goal brought the score to 14-4, Tuohy scored a goal of her own off a play that began with Fischer winning the draw and carrying it down the field. Fischer passed to senior midfielder Seaver Lipshie at centerfield, who lobbed the ball over to Tuohy. The sophomore stuffed it into the left side of the goal.

The teams got shots past the keepers a few more times, to give the game its final 17-7 score.

Dorney finished the game with six goals and an assist; Lochren and Fischer each added a hat trick; and Tuohy tacked on two goals and four assists. The win was a team effort, with three other players adding a goal apiece and three more finishing with an assist.

Comsewogue's Julia Tuohy carries the ball into Deer Park's zone on the road to the Warriors' 17-7 win on April 27. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Comsewogue’s Julia Tuohy carries the ball into Deer Park’s zone on the road to the Warriors’ 17-7 win on April 27. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“We have a lot of strong players,” Fischer said. “It’s not just one player, two players; we’re a team and we all work well together and we’re all strong together.”

The sophomore said the girls are “becoming less selfish.”

Comsewogue head coach James Fernandes agreed his team has a nice balance on offense and defense in terms of skill sets, and with a handful of underclassmen on the roster, he’s hoping their help will put the Warriors in a good position to make the playoffs.

“We have a very coachable group — the girls have done a great job and we’re building every week,” he said. “The younger girls are like sparkplugs for us. They do everything; they’re all over the place and it’s awesome. We have a seventh-grader out there and the girls, they thrive off her. When she makes a play, they love it.”

The team has three games left. First, the Warriors will travel to Shoreham-Wading River Friday for a game at 4 p.m., then will finish up the season hosting Islip and Miller Place. Fernandes said the team needs to win two out of the three, and Fischer thinks her team has what it takes.

“Our record is so much better than last year,” she said of the team’s 4-10 overall record last season. “We hope we’ll get into playoffs and I think we will.”

While Dorney thinks the team started off the season a little shaky, the Warriors have outscored their opponents by an average of almost 10 goals in the last three games, and will use that momentum to propel them into the end of the league schedule.

“Now, we realize that we’re good enough to hang with the teams that are usually at the top,” Dorney said. “It’s a good win to come up with, and now we have a big game Friday that we have to get ready for, and I think that we’ll come together.”

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Shoreham-Wading River’s Isabella Meli pulls back to fire a shot at the cage in the Wildcats’ 12-4 loss at Sayville Friday. Photo by Desirée Keegan

The Shoreham-Wading River girls’ lacrosse team couldn’t keep up with the Golden Flashes on Friday. Despite lighting up the scoreboard early, the Wildcats fell to Sayville, 12-4.

“I don’t really think they played with a lot of heart today,” Shoreham-Wading River head coach Rachel Feirstein said of her team. “They didn’t play the game that I know they can play.”

Sayville scored first but a minute later, Jesse Arline passed the ball to Sophia Triandafils, who tied the game. It didn’t last for long though — by the time another minute had passed, Sayville had edged ahead, 3-1.

Shoreham-Wading River’s Jesse Arline pulls the ball out and away from the crease to try to get an open look at the net in the Wildcats’ 12-4 loss at Sayville Friday. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Shoreham-Wading River’s Jesse Arline pulls the ball out and away from the crease to try to get an open look at the net in the Wildcats’ 12-4 loss at Sayville Friday. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Shortly afterward, following a foul call, Shoreham eighth-grader Isabella Meli, a midfielder and attack, fired a shot straight up the middle from 10 yards out to pull her team within one.

“I think today wasn’t one of our best games but I think we did good on draw controls,” she said. “I think we need to have a more positive attitude while we’re playing — and less turnovers.”

Sayville then scored four straight goals, but it would have been more without Shoreham senior goalkeeper and captain Lauren Daly, who made three big saves to minimize the damage.

The half ended with the Wildcats down 7-2.

“I think we had some moments of greatness, but I think there were times where we could have won a few more 50/50 balls and taken some better shots,” Daly said. “Sayville is a great team. They have some really good players and some really good ball movement, so I think defensively we communicated well with each other.”

At the start of the second half, Shoreham patiently maintained possession of the ball for more than five straight minutes and finally found the back of the net, to bring the score to 7-3.

After another Daly save, Sayville hammered one in net and forced Shoreham to call a timeout. Daly came out of the huddle to make another save, but Sayville squeezed another ball past her to jump out to a 9-3 lead.

“I walk into every game with the same attitude, and every single game I just try to play my best,” Daly said.

After winning the draw, Shoreham-Wading River’s Samantha Higgins maintains possession of the ball as she makes her way into Sayville’s zone with a defender on her hip, in the Wildcats’ 12-4 loss at Sayville Friday. Photo by Desirée Keegan
After winning the draw, Shoreham-Wading River’s Samantha Higgins maintains possession of the ball as she makes her way into Sayville’s zone with a defender on her hip, in the Wildcats’ 12-4 loss at Sayville Friday. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Sayville’s defense continued to pressure, forcing Shoreham outside the crease. Even there, the Wildcats couldn’t find the open looks.

Sayville scored another time before Shoreham scored its final goal of the game.

Samantha Higgins, who won possession off of several draws for the Wildcats, swiped the ball out of the air, took it all the way down the field and passed to Meli in front of the net, who whipped it in for the score.

Daly made her final of nine saves on the day, and Sayville scored twice more to end the game at 12-4.

Feirstein does not believe the game and its result are indicative of the way her team can play.

“I think the negative outweighed the bright spots, but there were some — we had an eighth-grader who scored two goals,” she said of Meli. “I have a lot of confidence in my team; they just need to show it. They need to work together as a team, and they practice it all week long — they just need to put it together in a 50-minute game.”

Daly said to end the regular season strong, the team will need to work on winning more ground balls and capitalizing on turnovers, which the girls hope to do Monday, when they travel to Miller Place at 4 p.m.

“We have some really great players and we’re a young team, but I think we’re a confident team,” she said. ”I think when we play confident and when we play our best, we’re a threat.”

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Girls’ lacrosse brings the heat en route to third straight win

The connection between Mackenzie Heldberg and Natalia Lynch goes as far back as kindergarten, so when one of the junior midfielders gets the ball, the other is confident that her best friend can finish the job, the girls said.

“When I look up, I know she’ll be there cutting and I know she does the same for me, so I think that’s the best friend thing,” Heldberg said of the connection. “We knew we were going to have to play hard, so it feels really good to take away the win.”

Smithtown West head coach Carie Bodo started off by addressing her previously 5-2 team before the game and telling them that it was a game of possession.

“Win the draw and take smart shots,” she said.

Her team did just that, as the Bulls topped the previously second-ranked North Babylon, 16-9.

In the first 10 minutes of the first half, Smithtown West rattled off six unanswered goals, with Heldberg tallying a hat trick and an assist, and Lynch adding a goal and an assist, before North Babylon scored its first goal.

“I think my team really came out with a lot of fire and we really wanted this, so it feels great to win,” Lynch said. “We knew that this game was really important to us, so once we got that lead, it really helped us.”

North Babylon managed to score just two goals before the halftime break, while the Bulls scored four more to break out to a 10-3 lead.

Heldberg remained strong on the draws, and gaining that possession at midfield proved to be the game-changer for Smithtown West.

“I think it’s a big aspect for possession and I think everyone is good at getting the loose ball of the draws, even in the air like Natalia [Lynch] did a few times,” Heldberg said. “I put them up to her and I know she’s going to get them, and having [Addie Stapleton] behind me helps, too.”

North Babylon scored the first two goals of the second half, but Smithtown West countered with another six-goal tare, with Heldberg and Lynch connecting for two of them, to bring the score to 16-5.

“We played together since second grade and ever since our first year together, we would always look for each other,” Lynch said. “She’s amazing on the draws and always knows where to put it to get it to me and sees me when I’m open, and I think that helps a lot with the connection that we have.”

North Babylon went on a 4-0 run to end the game, but the team’s comeback effort fell short.

Heldberg lead the team with five goals and two assists, while Lynch finished with two goals and four assists.

“I like passing it to my players,” Lynch said. “I have a lot of confidence in them when they get opened.”

Senior attack Kaitlin Unser and sophomore midfielder Kayla Kosubinsky finished with two goals and two assists apiece, and sophomore attack Chelsea Witteck tallied a hat trick in the win.

“We did exactly what we said we wanted to do,” Bodo said. “We wanted to fast break to them and we’re definitely a fast break team, so as soon as we win the center draw, we book it and it goes in.”

Once Smithtown West realized that North Babylon’s Ally Kennedy was the team’s scorer, after she scored the first six of her seven goals, the Bulls were able to isolate her and protect their lead.

One of the Bull’s greatest benefits came from multiple girls getting their names on the score sheet, with seven girls tallying goals and nine getting at least a point.

“If one of our girls get hurt or someone is having an off-game, someone else can step up, because everyone can score,” Lynch said. “There’s not one girl that is a weakness on the field and I think that’s a great thing.”

Girls’ lacrosse team hits 7-0 atop Division II standings

Mount Sinai's Sydney Pirreca fires a shot at the net with Huntington defenders on her back. Photo by Desirée Keegan

In a battle for first place, Mount Sinai outlasted Huntington, 14-9, Tuesday evening, under its home lights, to remain the only undefeated girls’ lacrosse team in Division II.

“It’s a great feeling to still be undefeated and it’s so much fun playing with everyone,” Mount Sinai freshman attack Meaghan Tyrrell said. “I think we did come out really hot. We came out wanting to win.”

Mount Sinai’s Kasey Mitchell maintains possession as she heads toward the cage with Huntington’s Ryann Gaffney at her hip. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Mount Sinai’s Kasey Mitchell maintains possession as she heads toward the cage with Huntington’s Ryann Gaffney at her hip. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Although Huntington’s senior attack Alyssa Amorison scored first at the 23:31 mark, off an assist from junior attack Katie Reilly, Mount Sinai was quick to counter with four straight goals. Senior attack and co-captain Sydney Pirreca scored the first and fourth, with Tyrell adding an assist on the first, to help the team to a 4-1 advantage.

The two teams traded goals, the goalkeepers traded saves and then traded two more goals. With the score 6-3, Huntington called a timeout to regroup.

“We need the draw,” Huntington head coach Kathy Wright told her players. “We need to get on those ground balls.”

Huntington moved senior midfielder Samantha Lynch to the faceoff in place of senior defender Heather Forster, and the switch proved to be successful.

The Blue Devils won the draw and with 6:55 remaining in the first half, sophomore midfielder Ryann Gaffney circled around the cage and passed to Lynch, who stood undefended at the front of the cage and knocked it into the right corner. A minute later, Lynch scored again off an assist from Reilly to pull within one, 6-5.

Thirty seconds later, Pirreca scored her hat trick goal. After a scrum at midfield for the ground ball off the draw, the senior attack was fouled, and jetted downfield for the score and a 7-5 lead heading into halftime.

“To me it’s not so much about being undefeated, it’s about the girls getting better every game,” Mount Sinai head coach Al Bertolone said. “Our mantra is one game at a time, to win the day, and today we did a great job. I thought it was a back and forth game early and I think we’ve really been a great second-half team, locking them down.”

Mount Sinai junior midfielder Rebecca Lynch scored the first two goals of the half within a minute of each other to put her team up 9-5. Huntington’s Gaffney scored next, unassisted, after gaining possession at midfield.

The teams continued to trade possession of the 50/50 balls, and Tyrrell added another assist when she passed the ball from behind the net to freshman attack Camryn Harloff in front of the net for a 10-6 advantage.

Mount Sinai's Meaghan Tyrrell looks up the field to make a play. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Mount Sinai’s Meaghan Tyrrell looks up the field to make a play. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“I feel pretty confident when I pass for shots,” Tyrrell said. “Even though I didn’t start off so well, I moved forward and got better as the game progressed.”

The Mustangs scored the next three goals, with Tyrrell having a part in all three, and Huntington called another timeout. During the break, Bertolone addressed his girls: “We need five seconds of focus to win the draw and get to goal, and don’t take any lapses down there on defense.”

The Blue Devils scored after the timeout, and Tyrrell scored her second goal of the game before Huntington junior attack Emma DeGennaro sent a shot off a foul into the right corner of the net for the next score. Amorison tacked on the final point of the game at 6:38. After that, the teams exchanged the ball as the defense stood strong on both ends to bring the final score to 14-9.

“I just think our older kids are bringing these younger kids along,” Bertolone said. “We’re coming together. We have a lot of babies out here that are really growing up fast, and this is a great group with great
senior leadership.”

One of the youngest on the team, Tyrrell finished the game with two goals and five assists; Lynch and Pirreca each tacked on a hat trick; and Harloff and senior midfielder Mary Ellen Carron added two goals apiece.

“Meaghan Tyrrell is a very good player,” Bertolone said. “I’ve got two [younger players] — her and Camryn Harloff down low, and I’ve got nothing but good things to say about them. They’re hardworking kids, so I’m happy for their success.”

Moving forward, he wants his team to improve in all facets of the game and to grow stronger as the season progresses. He said he believes his girls are doing all the little things necessary to be successful.
Tyrrell echoed her coach’s sentiments.

“We just have to keep getting better and keep improving,” she said. “We have a great team, we’re going to keep working together and do our best to keep moving forward and hopefully continue to win. There’s no stopping for us.”

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