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Dan DeCastro rips one deep into the outfield. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Having beaten Longwood the day before by just one run, the Ward Melville baseball team invaded the Lions’ territory Tuesday and let its pitching and batting do the talking to prove the Patriots’ worth. When the dust settled, the Patriots handed Longwood a 12-2 loss in the second matchup of a three-game series.

Alex Betz hurls a pitch from the mound. Photo by Bill Landon
Alex Betz hurls a pitch from the mound. Photo by Bill Landon

Ward Melville sophomore pitcher Ben Brown led the way with an impressive performance on the mound to earn the win in his first varsity start. Longwood struggled with the entire Patriots pitching staff, managing just six hits. The Lions were also plagued by four errors over seven innings.

Ward Melville blew the game open in the second inning, scoring six runs on an RBI double by Dominic Lamonica, a two-run double by Troy Davern, and Nick Rizzi drove in a run and with the help of two Longwood errors to give the Patriots a 6-0 lead.

“Today our hitters did a good job in their approach; we got a lot of clutch hits,” Ward Melville head coach Lou Petrucci said. “Dominic Lamonica had a big double in the second inning; Jeff Towle, Troy Davern and the middle-of-the-lineup guys did a good job.”

The Lions tried to claw their way back and scored two runs in the bottom of the third.

Towle took control of the fourth inning, blasting a shot to deep center field, giving both Nick Vitale and Joe Flynn the opportunity to come home for an 8-2 advantage.

“Today, as a team, we had great bats all around putting the ball in play, making them work, putting pressure on their defense and that helped us out today,” Towle said. “[Longwood is] a solid team, but the ball didn’t roll their way. That could’ve happened to us, but we hit the ball hard.”

Flynn was also excited to see the team putting the ball in play.

“Today we came out swinging with the right mind-set; we had to put the ball in play and do whatever we have to do to win,” he said. “We’re not a strong hitting team and we’ve relied on pitching in the past, and that’s what we’re going to do this year, but today we came out with the bats and did a great job.”

Troy Davern makes a grab for the out. Photo by Bill Landon
Troy Davern makes a grab for the out. Photo by Bill Landon

The Patriots crossed the plate once more in the inning, to surge ahead 9-2.

Petrucci said he was pleased with his entire lineup.

“The top of the order guys — Joe Flynn got on base; Nick Vitale had a great day today — those guys got on base and did a good job for us,” he said. “The big hitters drove them in with clutch hits and we had more base runners and took advantage of that opportunity.”

The Patriots found the scoreboard once in the top of the sixth and twice in the seventh to put the game away.

Brown said his team misjudged Longwood in the first game of the series.

“I think we came out with a lot of intensity,” he said. “We took this team a little lightly yesterday. We really played hard, we had really good at bats, so that was the difference today.”

With the win, Ward Melville improved to 3-0. The Patriots conclude their three-game series with Longwood on Thursday at home, with the first pitch scheduled for noon.

Comsewogue goalkeeper Jake MacGregor scoops up the ball amid a scrum in the Warriors’ zone during Comsewogue’s 6-5 win at Hauppauge April 7. Photo by Desirée Keegan

In practice, the Comsewogue boys’ lacrosse team performs a drill called “12 minutes,” and they’ve been putting that practice to good use so far this season.

“We treat it like the fourth quarter, where there’s 12 minutes left, and we work harder to make sure we come out on top,” junior midfielder Trevor Kennedy said. “We work to score more goals in that 12 minutes.”

On Tuesday, for the third time this season, the Warriors came out ahead in a close, one-goal game. This time, the boys topped Hauppauge, 6-5, rewarding their coach with a birthday win and claiming the top spot in Division III four games into the season.

“Winning against a top team in the division — it’s always nice to take them down and prove that we’re a contender,” Comsewogue junior goalkeeper Jake MacGregor said. “[Coach] had the starters over to watch film for two or three hours at his house to prepare for the game. We always take each game seriously and come out to win.”

Comsewogue’s Trevor Kennedy evades Hauppauge defenders as he makes his way up the field into the Eagles’ zone in the Warriors’ 6-5 win at Hauppauge Tuesday. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Comsewogue’s Trevor Kennedy evades Hauppauge defenders as he makes his way up the field into the Eagles’ zone in the Warriors’ 6-5 win at Hauppauge Tuesday. Photo by Desirée Keegan

MacGregor wasn’t kidding.

The junior made six stops in the first six minutes en route to 17 saves on the evening.

“They were really good shooters on the other team but my defense held it together and was able to give me open looks to save the ball,” he said.

After several attempts, Hauppauge was first on the board, but three more Comsewogue saves later, the Warriors tied it up — senior faceoff specialist Zach Deutsch won the ball off the faceoff and took it all the way to goal just eight seconds into the second quarter.

From there, the Warriors never trailed, but the Eagles tied the game four times to keep the fans on edge.

First, junior midfielder Brandon O’Donoghue slid behind the net and passed the ball to sophomore attack Will Snelders on the right side. Snelders dove and shot it in for the 2-1 advantage with 6:46 left in the half.

Five minutes later, Hauppauge tied it again with a goal from Danny Murphy off an assist from Kyle Silverstein.

Comsewogue’s Kennedy was the only player to score in the third, when the ball was passed around the perimeter and, from the left side of the net, it was skipped out to him at center, where he whipped it in for the 3-2 advantage.

MacGregor came through with two more saves after that goal to maintain the lead heading into the fourth.

While in the huddle between quarters, Mitchell shouted, “Look at the clock. This is our time.”

Comsewogue’s Johnny Koebel looks downfield to make a play in the Warriors’ 6-5 win over Hauppauge Tuesday. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Comsewogue’s Johnny Koebel looks downfield to make a play in the Warriors’ 6-5 win over Hauppauge Tuesday. Photo by Desirée Keegan

And the boys synchronized their watches for a win.

First, Silverstein and Murphy connected for a Hauppauge goal, and after another MacGregor save, junior defender and midfielder Chris Pedone scored when he took the ball and rushed it all the way up the field. The Warriors led 4-3 with 9:52 left to play.

The teams kept going back and forth. Hauppauge’s Murphy scored unassisted and Comsewogue’s Kennedy, off a pass across the field from sophomore attack Ryan Dorney, rocked the back of the cage for a 5-4 lead.

Silverstein and Murphy continued to heat up and connected again to tie it at 5-all. Despite losing possession, the Warriors found a way to force a turnover behind the net, and Snelders came through with another diving play with 42 seconds left to end the scoring.

“The kid that passed me the ball, he drew my man and I came in and saw his man coming at me, so I tucked underneath and scored,” Snelders said. “It felt pretty good.”

Hauppauge won possession off the ensuing faceoff and with seconds left, fired a shot that MacGregor saved to seal the win.

“I just tried to react like I do in practice facing some nice shooters like Will Snelders and Trevor Kennedy,” he said. “I just tried to treat it like any other save.”

But Comsewogue head coach Pete Mitchell is more than impressed with his goalkeeper.

“Hauppauge is a very good offensive team and to only allow them to score [five] goals is a testament,” the head coach said. “He just does it game after game; he’s solid.”

He also gave credit to Stephen Reed, Matt Spahr and Chris Pedone, a baseball and soccer player who recently joined lacrosse.

Comsewogue goalkeeper Jake MacGregor comes out of the cage to block Hauppauge defenders from regaining possession in the Warriors’ 6-5 win over the Eagles Tuesday. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Comsewogue goalkeeper Jake MacGregor comes out of the cage to block Hauppauge defenders from regaining possession in the Warriors’ 6-5 win over the Eagles Tuesday. Photo by Desirée Keegan

All four of the team’s games have been one-goal games, the first three of which went into overtime.

The Warriors earned a 6-5 win over Mount Sinai first, before falling to Islip, 4-5. They picked it back up with a 10-9 victory against Eastport-South Manor before the game at Hauppauge. Moving forward, Mitchell is hoping his team can score more goals.

“That’s Division III right now — any coach will tell you, anybody can win on any day,” he said. “I give all the credit to Hauppauge. They just as easily could have been walking off victors here, but it really makes for exciting lacrosse in Suffolk County.”

Kennedy sees signs of good things to come.

“Our defense is sick — our big goalie is pretty good, too,” he said with a laugh. “Our offense could use a little more work but we’re starting to gel and I’m felling pretty confident. Hauppauge was No. 1, now we’re No. 1.”

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Mount Sinai’s Dan Keenan maintains possession and changes direction in the Mustangs’ 6-5 win over Shoreham-Wading River Tuesday. Photo by Desirée Keegan

The Mount Sinai boys’ lacrosse team is hoping its proficient experience will pave the way for the Mustangs to race off to a successful season.

With a team full of seniors, Mount Sinai head coach Harold Drumm said his players are comfortable and playing more relaxed this year.

“By doing that, I think they’re starting to get a sense of the ability that the overall team has and I think if we continue to work hard and play physical with the lacrosse ability we have, I think we’ll do really well,” Drumm said.

Mount Sinai’s R.J. Voos tries to control the loose ball as a Shoreham-Wading River defender goes to block him in the Mustangs’ 6-5 win over the Wildcats Tuesday. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Mount Sinai’s R.J. Voos tries to control the loose ball as a Shoreham-Wading River defender goes to block him in the Mustangs’ 6-5 win over the Wildcats Tuesday. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Mount Sinai started off the season with a 6-5 loss to Comsewogue and bounced back with a 12-7 win over Bayport-Blue Point before falling to Miller Place, 11-3, prior to entering Tuesday morning’s game against Shoreham-Wading River.

Although the Mustangs raced ahead to an early lead, the Wildcats battled back to close within one goal twice, but ultimately couldn’t level the score as Mount Sinai walked off the field with a 6-5 victory.

“This is a great win for our program,” Drumm said. “We beat Shoreham one time in the last 11 years I think, so it’s a great win for us.”

After Mount Sinai shot off three goals in the first quarter, Shoreham-Wading River junior Jason Curran put the Wildcats on the board with 2:48 left to play in the second quarter, to bring the score to 3-1.

Coming out of the halftime break, Shoreham-Wading River went into the huddle shouting “Takeover on 3. 1… 2… 3… Takeover!” And the team tried to do just that.

With 10:32 remaining in the third, Shoreham senior Ryan Bray found the back of the net to make it a one-goal game.

Three minutes later, Mount Sinai senior Dan Bullis saw a Shoreham-Wading River defender slide away from the crease and snuck in front of the net, and lobbed the ball in past the goalkeeper for a 4-2 advantage.

Bullis followed up his goal with two assists as he first passed the ball to senior Dan Keenan on the left side of the cage who whipped it in, and then dished the ball to junior R.J. Voos with 9:50 left to play for a 6-2 advantage.

“We played pretty good, it was a quality game,” said Mount Sinai senior goalkeeper Charlie Faughnan, who made seven big saves. “I just wanted to stop the ball. I don’t really think about it and just make the saves. I felt good [between the pipes] and the defense played [well].”

Shoreham-Wading River sophomore Chris Gray scored the next two goals to pull his team within two points, and Bray added his second goal of the morning with 52.6 seconds left to play to make it a one-goal game for the second time.

Mount Sinai’s Dan Bullis, who scored a goal and added three assists, makes his way around the cage while Shoreham-Wading River’s Bobby Puckey waits prepared to make a save. The Mustangs topped the Wildcats Tuesday, 6-5. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Mount Sinai’s Dan Bullis, who scored a goal and added three assists, makes his way around the cage while Shoreham-Wading River’s Bobby Puckey waits prepared to make a save. The Mustangs topped the Wildcats Tuesday, 6-5. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“We turned the ball over to them four or five times in the last 10 minutes very unnecessarily, and against teams like Shoreham, it could have very easily come back and the next thing you know we lose the game by a goal,” Drumm said. “So we have to learn from all of those mental mistakes.”

Junior Shane Walker’s multiple wins in a row at faceoff kept the team in the game.

“The beginning of the game was a little rough,” Walker said. “I was a little slow, but toward the end of the game I had some big wins that helped get us the ‘W.’ I think our offense is shooting well. A few of the shots were over the pipes so I think we need to show lower a couple times, but overall it was a good game.”

Bray and Gray finished with two goals and an assist each for Shoreham-Wading River, while Curran finished with a goal and an assist. Senior goalkeeper Bobby Puckey made nine saves in the game.

For the Wildcats, Bullis scored a game-high four points off one goal and three assists, Keenan added a hat trick, senior Zack Rudolf tacked on a goal and senior Tony DiMonti rounded out the scoring with an assist, as Mount Sinai improved to 2-2 in League III. The Mustangs handed the Wildcats their first loss of the season, as Shoreham-Wading River dropped to 2-1.

“I want to look at the season game by game, and just try to play comfortable and play hard,” Drumm said. “We want to keep going and keep winning.”

This version corrects Shane Walker’s grade level and the spelling of Tony DiMonti’s name.

Northport's Heather Engellis shoots the ball past North Babylon's goalkeeper in the Tigers' 11-5 win Monday at Veteran's Park. Photo by Desirée Keegan

It’s going to be tough to stop these Tigers.

The Northport girls’ lacrosse team is on a three-game winning streak after topping previously undefeated North Babylon, 11-5, Monday at Veteran’s Park in East Northport.

The Tigers came out with seven straight goals and big saves from senior goalkeeper and co-captain Kristen Brunoforte, keeping North Babylon at bay, until the team scored its first goal of the game with 16 seconds remaining in the first half.

Northport's Olivia Carner beats out two defenders and bounces the ball into the net in the Tigers' 11-5 win Monday at Veteran's Park. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Northport’s Olivia Carner beats out two defenders and bounces the ball into the net in the Tigers’ 11-5 win Monday at Veteran’s Park. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“We’re excited about the win,” Northport head coach Carol Rose said. “Any time you beat someone in your conference it’s a good thing, so we’re happy about that. We started off and executed really well in the beginning of the game, but the second half we got really sloppy, a lot of turnovers and I wasn’t happy with that.”

Rose said her team lost focus of what they were trying to achieve and setting up the offense, as Northport turned over the ball four times in a row to start the second half.

“I think we fell behind a little bit but we always pick it up at the end of the game,” said junior attack Courtney Orella, who scored a hat trick in the game. “We have good balance, we go to goal and I knew we were going to win because we always pull through at the end.”

With 13:28 left to play, Brunoforte made one of her 18 saves on the morning, but after a foul call, was unable to make the stop as North Babylon edged closer, 7-3.

Northport eighth-grade midfielder Olivia Carner beat out defenders to the left side of the net and scored in front at 9:03 to make it a 8-3 game before North Babylon answered back less than a minute later.

But Orella knew the game was the Tigers’ to win.

“We need to work on not getting rattled,” she said. “As soon as they start to come back, I think we all sort of fall to their level. I think we need to realize how good we actually are and pick it back up, because we’re such a great team.”

Northport's Natalie Leangella moves the ball into North Babylon's zone in the Tigers' 11-5 win Monday at Veteran's Park. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Northport’s Natalie Leangella moves the ball into North Babylon’s zone in the Tigers’ 11-5 win Monday at Veteran’s Park. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Orella scored her second and hat trick goals back-to-back at 5:24 and 4:08, and seventh-grade attack Danielle Pavinelli passed to junior midfielder Natalie Langella off a foul for an 11-4 advantage before North Babylon scored the final goal of the game to bring the final score to 11-5, with a minute left to play.

Behind Orella, senior attacks and co-captains Emily Yoo and Heather Engellis netted two goals apiece, while senior attack and co-captain Gabbi Labuskes tacked on a goal and an assist. With the win, Northport improved to 3-0 in Division I, while North Babylon dropped to 3-1.

“I think our defense was strong,” Engellis said. “Our goalkeeping was insane; our transition was good.”

The team agreed it needs to work on its shooting, because despite scoring 11 goals, the team was 7-for-18 on attempts in the first half alone.

But Rose does like the strengths she sees.

“I thought in the beginning of the game is where they showed their strength,” she said. “They were passing and they were running the offense on their own, calling their own plays, so they executed really well in the beginning of the game. They’re fully capable of going that the entire game, but we’re still working on that.”

As long as the team can improve it’s shooting percentage and play a full game, Rose believes the sky is the limit for her team. The team traveled to Florida today for some bonding and practice over the break, with the hopes of returning even stronger on the quest to achieve its goal.

“The weather’s been really cold so it’s hard to work on anything, so we’re looking forward to going to Florida,” she said. “The team is looking to get back to the county finals, so that’s our goal.”

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Men’s coach continues to push program to new heights

Will Brown coaches Hooley on the sideline during a game. Photo from the University at Albany

By Clayton Collier

The University at Albany Great Danes have only been a Division I men’s basketball program since 1999, but their accomplishments in the past decade are not short-lived.

Miller Place native Will Brown Jr., who recently completed his 14th season at the helm of the men’s hoops team, has taken the program from a team initially accustomed to the lower portion of the America East standings, to one with three-straight NCAA Tournament berths and five within the last decade — the most recent of which came on the strength of a miracle, last-second 3-pointer by junior guard Peter Hooley to punch the Great Danes’ ticket to the Big Dance.

Becoming a regular in March Madness is no small task for a mid-major program like Albany, but then again, Brown is not one to balk in the face of a challenge.

Before Brown was a coach, the 43-year-old was a standout basketball player at Miller Place High School. Coached by his father, Bill Sr., Brown was never mistaken for getting preferential treatment. In fact, it was made clear that Brown was to be held to a higher standard than his teammates.

“It’s hard when you’re in tenth grade and your dad kicks you out of practice and you have to call your mom to pick you up,” Brown said.

The coach said it wasn’t until he began leading his own team that he fully understood that his father was pushing him in order to reach his max potential.

“Bill Brown was an amazing coach,” Miller Place athletic director Lisa Lally, who coached girls’ basketball while Bill Brown was the boys’ head coach, and taught Will Brown when he attended the school, said. “He knew what his son was capable of, what potential he had, and I think he pushed Will. I think there were probably some very interesting times around that dinner table after practice.”

To prevent such interesting times, Brown’s mother Diane implemented a house policy: leave the arguments from practice in the gym.

“We weren’t allowed to talk hoops, that was mom’s rule,” Brown said. “But very rarely did we pay attention to that rule.”

Will Brown discusses plays with his Great Danes during a timeout. Photos from the University at Albany
Will Brown discusses plays with his Great Danes during a timeout. Photos from the University at Albany

As Brown progressed in high school, he began to see recruiting interest from major college programs like the University of Notre Dame and Seton Hall University. At the end of his sophomore year however, Brown found himself laboring more and more to continue to complete practices that once came easier to him. He began losing weight dramatically — something was wrong.

Brown was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at the beginning of his junior year of high school, at one point causing him to miss six or seven weeks of school. The fluctuation in weight wreaked havoc on Brown’s energy level and subsequently, his ability to practice.

Per doctor’s orders, Brown sat out of soccer season for his junior and senior years and committed himself to getting his weight up in order to be able to participate in basketball.

Brown Sr. said he found himself in a difficult situation, as he was hesitant to push his son, given his condition.

“It’s almost like you’re walking on eggshells; it was hard as a parent,” Brown Sr. said. “You want to push him, but you don’t want to push him. I had to use him as a guide. I listened to what he told me.”

Brown told his father he wanted to get to work.

“When he said ‘dad can we go up to the gym?’ that’s when we went. I would never say ‘Hey Will, let’s go and work out;’ I let him come to me,” Brown Sr. said. “I would say ‘let’s call it quits’ and he would say ‘no, let’s do a little more.’”

Brown committed to the University of Pennsylvania to play basketball, but transferred to Dowling College to be closer to home after another bout with Crohn’s disease. Brown continued to work diligently to maintain his weight and finished his collegiate career with more than 1,000 points and 500 assists.

Upon graduation, Brown’s parents assumed he would get a regular, nine-to-five job. Instead, Brown followed in his father’s footsteps and entered the world of coaching, and shot rapidly up the ranks. Beginning as an assistant coach at the College of Saint Rose, Brown moved on to his first head coaching job at Sullivan County Community College, where he compiled a 90-10 record in three seasons.

Soon thereafter, Brown was hired as an assistant on Scott Beeten’s coaching staff at Albany. Beeten would be reassigned from the head coaching position just before conference play in December of 2001. The University named Brown, at just 29 years old, interim head coach for the remainder of the season.

“I thought I had it all figured out, I never understood why coaches weren’t successful,” he said. “I quickly learned when you’re an assistant, it’s easy to make suggestions. When you move one seat over, you have to make the decisions.”

Now, 14 seasons later, Brown has made Albany a nationally recognized name. Five NCAA tournament berths and 215 wins later, Brown has taken his “baby” to never before seen heights.

This past season was one to remember, in particular, for Brown’s Great Danes. Conference season began with the tragic news that Peter Hooley’s mother, Sue, had taken a turn for the worse in her battle with cancer.
Hooley flew home to his native Australia to be with his mother in her final moments, missing nearly a month of the basketball season. Upon his return following her passing, coach Brown found himself experiencing a similar dilemma to his father many years ago, although his and Hooley’s situations were vastly different, in terms of reintroducing a star player back into basketball following hardship.

“The tough part for me was that I like to ride my captains and my better players pretty hard. I get after them; I challenge them. Peter is no different,” Brown said. “But I did find myself kind of trying to lay off Peter a little bit, give him some space and some time.”

Hooley said Brown allowing him to work at his own pace was helpful in allowing him to get himself refocused on basketball.

“He’s been a father figure over here in every way,” he said. “I think coming in he knew what I was dealing with back home and he checked in on me every single day. He almost knows what it is like to be in that situation. It certainly helps me to keep going.”

Albany went 8-0 in Hooley’s absence. In the conference tournament, with Hooley back on the court, the Great Danes found themselves in a familiar location — the America East championship game against Stony Brook University.

Down by two with seconds to go and Stony Brook out of timeouts, the Great Danes had the ball. Hooley drained a 3-point basket to win the game for Albany, 51-50, off an offensive rebound, and punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament. Hooley, who pointed to the sky after the buzzer sounded, said he had his mother to thank for the ball reaching the net in the final moments.

“That ball shouldn’t have been kicked to me,” he said. “There’s no way that that should’ve fell to me; there’s no way they should have had no time-outs; there’s no way that ball should have made it to me to get a shot off. Everything was set up perfectly and what mum would’ve wanted.”

With their season completed following a 69-60  loss to the University of Oklahoma in the second round of the NCAA tournament, Brown and the Great Danes set their sights on next year. With so much success, one could see Brown as a larger than life figure, but his father still fondly remembers those early days in the gym.

“Just to be there when these arenas are owned with 15-20,000 people, and you have all the glitz and the glamour, and you have all the national news there,” Brown Sr. said of seeing his son coach in the Big Dance. “As a father you sit back, and to this day, I look down, I see Will, and I still see a kid from Miller Place.”

Instructors and riders from The Knox School’s Interscholastic Equestrian Association team. Photo from Virginia Riccardi

Despite extreme weather and limited practice time, the Knox School’s Interscholastic Equestrian Association team displayed grit and determination on Sunday, March 1st in the Regional Finals qualifier at Island Hills Stables in Middle Island.

Knox riders from all across the North Shore competed in regionals.

Gabrielle Schneider and Julia Russo both placed 6th in their team classes. Grace Hayden came in 4th in her team class and 4th in her individual class, and Nicolette Lombardi placed 5th in her team class and 2nd in her individual class.

The 2nd place award for Lombardi made her eligible for the Zone II semi-finals at Alfred University on March 15th, where she was the first rider for Knox to qualify for Zones.

“Nicolette is an exceptional equestrian and lacrosse player and has been riding at Knox for over four years in our Community Riding Program and our camp equestrian programs,” Debbie Moore, Knox’s equestrian program director and instructor, said. “We are all so very proud of her.”

Other regional participants were Kyle Persaud, Madison Licalzi, Heather Feiganbaum and Casey Sherlock.

Kings Park’s Ben Variano maintains possession while Harborfields’ Terrence Haggarty tries to knock him off balance. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

The King Park boys’ lacrosse team struck first in a League III matchup on a muddy field in a wet, wintry mix, and led twice early in the game, but Harborfields found its rhythm and stomped over the Kingsmen Tuesday to win the game, 12-4.

Kings Park junior midfielder Jimmy Gadaleta hit the scoreboard first to take an early lead, but Harborfields senior attack Terrence Haggerty answered back with an unassisted goal to tie the game. It was Haggerty’s first of five goals to lead his team in scoring.

With less than five minutes left in the quarter, Kings Park retook the lead when senior attacks Joe Hines and Alex Marino connected on the next play. Hines dished the ball to Marino, who found the cage to retake the lead, 2-1.

Harborfields midfielder Andrew Derasmo fed a cross to Haggerty, who fired between the pipes to tie the game at 2-2 to start the second period.

Kings Park head coach J.M. Simpson said Harborfields runs a solid program and have a system that they’ve been successful with for years.

“We kind of knew what we were going to get ourselves into today, but we didn’t do a very good job of executing our game plan,” he said. “We knew they were going to come out and pressure us and we weren’t able to handle that pressure.”

Kings Park's Jac Cutillo drives around Harborfields’ Connor Bennardo. Photo by Bill Landon
Kings Park’s Jac Cutillo drives around Harborfields’ Connor Bennardo. Photo by Bill Landon

Harborfields senior attack Connor Bennardo struck next when he scored unassisted to put his team back out in front by one. Haggerty, with the hot hand, hit next to edge ahead 4-2 when Kings Park senior midfielder Ray McQuillan answered with a goal of his own off an assist by senior attack Liam Winwood to trail by one, 4-3.

“Today’s game plan was to work hard and beat them to the ground balls and outrun them on the field,” Haggerty said. “In the second half, offensively we got rolling, we scored in transition and with a man up, and we were able to outrun them.”

Both teams had trouble getting traction on a wet, muddy field, but Bennardo scored again to edge ahead 5-3 to end the half.

“From a talent standpoint we’re about even, but I think we outworked them — we got the ground balls and our middies were running all over the place,” Bennardo said. “And that makes us look good on attack, so I can’t thank them enough.”

The second half was all Harborfields, as Haggerty dove around the circle from behind the cage and slipped one in-between the pipes to break out to a 6-3 advantage with seven minutes left in the third.
Harborfields head coach Glenn Lavey chose not to brief his team about Kings Park from a recent scouting report.

“We lost [our opener] by nine goals against Shoreham, so it was more about us, even though there were some things I would’ve liked to prepare them for from the scouting report, but it was more about where Harborfields needs to be,” Lavey said. “So we didn’t tell them one thing about our opponent. We just showed up and played our style.”

Harborfields senior midfielder Tristan Capes-Davis added one of his own halfway through the third to surge ahead 7-3, and by that time, there was no stopping the Tornadoes. Senior midfielder Cameron LaPorta found the cage for the next two scores, to jump out to a 9-3 lead with nine minutes left to play, when Kings Park sophomore midfielder Jac Cutillo tacked on his team’s final point, to trail 9-4.

Before it was over, Harborfields tacked on three more goals with Haggerty’s fifth, Bennardo’s third for the hat trick, and junior attack Quintin McKenna added one of his own to put the game away.

“We made them earn everything today and they gave us a couple of opportunities in transition, and that was the difference,” Lavey said. “Our kids did a good job at grinding and controlling the speed and the tempo of the game, which gave our middies a chance to rest.”

Kings Park senior goalkeeper Harrison Bower had a busy day, and when the dust settled, he had notched 15 saves.

“Harrison Bower’s a senior and a first-year starter who’s been waiting in the wings for a couple of years now,” Simpson said. “He’s been tremendous in our first three games this season, so I give a lot of credit to him.”

With the win, Harborfields improves to 1-1 in League III, after suffering an 18-9 loss to Shoreham-Warding River, while Kings Park dropped to 1-2 in League III, after an 8-6 loss to Elwood-John Glenn and a 10-9 win over Westhampton.

Kings Park will look to bounce back on Tuesday, April 7, when the Kingsmen host Islip. The game is currently slated with an 11 a.m. start time.

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Freshman midfielder Thomas Mark evades the Panthers. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Despite a 14-4 loss at the hands of Babylon on a rainy Tuesday, the Port Jefferson boys’ lacrosse team is looking on the bright side.

“I think a young team like this, not ever experiencing the competition at the varsity level, especially a team that is the reigning county champions, it’s an uphill battle every single time,” Port Jefferson head coach Taylor Forstell said. “It was quite a learning experience. They competed until the last whistle and that’s all I could ask of them.”

A young team, the Royals are looking to improve day by day, to prove that they can hang with — and one day rule over — the other varsity teams.

Junior attack Spencer Woolley passes the ball. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Junior attack Spencer Woolley passes the ball. Photo by Desirée Keegan

To get to that level, junior attack and co-captain Taylor Chiarelli said the team has been doing a lot of running during practice, something the team likes to call “lacrosse country,” while also working on stick skills and ball movement to learn the basics.

“We just need more practice, more movement and more calling out,” he said after the loss. “We didn’t win the game, but it’s all right. We tried our hardest and that’s all that matters.”

Forstell said competitiveness is one thing his athletes don’t lack, adding that although the score of the game may not show it, his Royals never gave up on a play and pressured Babylon until the last whistle.

The Panthers started off with eight unanswered goals until Port Jefferson junior attack Marco Scarda received the ball off of a pass and, from about 20 yards out, sent a straight shot past the goalkeeper to put his team on the scoreboard.

Babylon scored once more in the first, three times in the second and once in the third to take a 13-1 advantage into the final quarter.

“I feel like we kind of lost the game before we got out here, mentally,” said junior goalkeeper and co-captain Connor Fitterer, who made six saves on the evening. “We knew they were going to be a tough team. There’s a lack of experience for a lot of these players. Some of them picked up the stick for the first time last year or this year, so it’s been difficult, but it’s been fun.”

The Royals had something to smile about when Scarda scored again with 10:44 remaining in the game, off a pass across the field that he whipped into the back of the cage.

Sophomore midfielder Chandler Sciara looks downfield to make a play. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Sophomore midfielder Chandler Sciara looks downfield to make a play. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Babylon scored again but Port Jefferson sophomore midfielder Chandler Sciara countered with a goal of his own.

With five seconds remaining, Port Jefferson freshman midfielder Thomas Mark passed the ball from the far left side to sophomore attack Brian Mark, his older brother, who was in front of the goal and managed to lob the ball in overhead to bring the final score to 14-4.

With the loss, Port Jefferson moves to 1-2 overall and 1-1 in League IV, having lost the first game of the season to Bellport, 16-3, but bouncing back with a 16-6 win over Southampton/Ross in its second matchup.

“We definitely could’ve pressured harder, we definitely could’ve been playing a little tougher against them — we didn’t come out with as much fire as they did — but next week’s a new week and we’ll see them again,” junior midfielder and co-captain Max Scandale said. “We just need a little bit of practice, a little bit of time and we’ll definitely get there.”

Senior attack Zach Harned races around Riverhead players as he tries to get an open look at the net to score a goal, in Middle Country’s 12-4 loss to the Blue Waves Monday. Photo by Desirée Keegan

After starting off last season with a 10-0 losing streak, the Middle Country boys’ lacrosse team has already turned its game around this year, despite having it’s 2-0 record snapped by Riverhead at home, 12-4, on Monday.

The Mad Dogs first edged out Commack, 10-9, on March 25, and followed it up with a 10-2 victory at Patchogue-Medford on March 27, to remain undefeated at 2-0 in League I.

In Monday’s nonleague game against Riverhead, which stands 1-2, 0-1 in League II, the boys started off strong to begin the first and second half, but its efforts weren’t enough once the Blue Waves started rolling.

With 6:35 remaining in the first quarter, senior attacks Zach Harned and Bobby Emerson connected on a play where Harned passed the ball across the net to Emerson, who placed it in the right goal side for the 1-0 lead.

Junior attack Cole Demaille maintains possession as he races up the field with a Riverhead player reaching to force a turnover. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Junior attack Cole Demaille maintains possession as he races up the field with a Riverhead player reaching to force a turnover. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Two minutes later, Riverhead evened the scored, but Emerson scored again with 8:22 remaining in the second stanza when he scooped the ball up off an offensive rebound and rocketed it straight up the middle for a 2-1 advantage.

Riverhead scored three unanswered goals to end the second and take a 5-2 lead into halftime, and the Mad Dogs were disappointed.

“That wasn’t our usual game plan that we have,” senior defender Mike Durkin said. “We usually communicate more on defense and we were just off today.”

Middle Country turned it around after halftime, and 30 seconds into the quarter, senior midfielder Brandon Thomas fed the ball to Emerson, who scored.

Just over a minute later, Thomas crossed into Riverhead’s zone and whipped the ball into the cage from about 20 yards out, to pull the Mad Dogs within one point, 5-4.

“I thought we came out strong,” Thomas said. “Coming out in the second half I thought we gave it a good push, we just finished off a little slow. We’ve got to stick together.”

Middle Country continued to move the ball around and was strong on the clears, but ran into trouble at the faceoff and couldn’t capitalize on some of its opportunities.

Riverhead scored three unanswered goals to end the third, and scored four more in the fourth. Junior goalkeeper Christian Brody made six saves for the Mad Dogs, and backup J.D. Kane finished with three.

Senior midfielder Brandon Thomas added a goal and an assist in Middle Country’s 12-4 loss to Riverhead Monday. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Senior midfielder Brandon Thomas added a goal and an assist in Middle Country’s 12-4 loss to Riverhead Monday. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Thomas said the team needs to slow down its plays on offense, while Durkin believes the rotation, sliding and communication needs to be stronger on defense if the Mad Dogs want to go far this season. The boys believe they can improve on last season’s 2-14 overall and 2-12 league records though, and see playoffs as a possibility in the future.

“We’ve been coming together,” Durkin said. “We’ve been playing together since we were 5 years old so we all know each other and we know where each other is going to be [on the field].”

Thomas added: “We’re a good, close-knit group. The goal is to make the playoffs, and that’s what we’re looking to do this year.”

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Irina DeSimone works her way around a Sayville opponent last season. File photo by Kevin Freiheit

Expectations are running high for a strong season, and for good reason — the Huntington High School girls’ lacrosse team returns many talented players to the field this spring.

Coached by Kathy Wright and Molly Burnett, the Blue Devils were relegated to the gym for the first week of practice since snow covered their outdoor field. Players made the best of the situation, but the squad is looking forward to warmer temperatures.

Huntington compiled a 15-3 overall mark last spring, with a 12-2 record in Division II, reaching the Suffolk Class B Final Four before losing in overtime at home to Sayville, 14-13.

Caitlin Knowles races to scoop up a ground ball. File photo by Kevin Freiheit
Caitlin Knowles races to scoop up a ground ball. File photo by Kevin Freiheit

Junior midfielder Emma DeGennaro, senior midfielder Samantha Lynch, junior midfielder Katie Reilly and senior goalkeeper Anna Tesoriero were named All-County.

Senior attack Alyssa Amorison, junior midfielder Irina DeSimone, senior defender Caitlin Knowles and sophomore defender Camille Stafford won All-Division honors. Senior defender Cassidie Gianmarino and junior defender Brianna McDonald were recognized as All-Tournament. Junior defender Hailey Bengston was Huntington’s Unsung Hero Award recipient. Lynch, Knowles and Tesoriero also garnered Academic All-American honors.

All of last season’s postseason honorees are back on the field this spring.

“I think the team is already looking really good,” said Reilly, who had 49 goals and 85 assists last year. “We have so much talent in every position. Emma, Irina, Alyssa and Samantha will have huge roles this year for the offense and the defense is looking better than ever.”

Reilly’s 134 points led the team last season. Lynch notched 86 goals and 17 assists. DeGennaro (54 goals; 17 assists) and Amorison (30 goals; 16 assists) were also potent offensively. DeSimone had 12 goals and four assists and played a key role on both ends of the field.

Gianmarino, Bengston  and Knowles continue to be integral to Huntington’s aggressive defense, while Stafford is currently sidelined from an injury.

Alyssa Amorison maintains possession while carrying the ball into Shoreham-Wading River’s zone last season. File photo by Kevin Freiheit
Alyssa Amorison maintains possession while carrying the ball into Shoreham-Wading River’s zone last season. File photo by Kevin Freiheit

Tesoriero recorded 140 saves in goal last year and looks to improve as a senior. The Blue Devils will also be relying on senior attack Mackenzie Maloney, freshman midfielder Emma Greenhill, junior goalie Taylor Moreno and senior faceoff and defensive specialist Heather Forster, along with several skilled underclassmen.

“The team is excited and hopeful about the upcoming season,” Lynch said. “We are returning almost every player and have some great new additions in our underclassmen. The team worked especially hard … in our first outdoor practice, in preparation for [the first] two scrimmages. With a tough schedule ahead of us, the team plans to focus on one opponent at a time. We are looking to top last year’s county semifinal appearance with a trip to the finals.”

As the Blue Devils settle into outdoor practice, players are already returning to top form.

“It was a little unfortunate that we had to play indoors for the first week, but that makes it that much better to finally be on the turf,” Reilly said.

The team took to the field today at Islip at 4:30 in the first Division II game of the season, but results were not available by press time.