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Comsewogue

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Shot put throwers Andy Suarez and Billy Grosse finished second and third, respectively, at a meet at Suffolk County Community College’s Brentwood campus Jan. 29, both tossing over 50 feet. Photos by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Comsewogue has never had a thrower capable of hurling a shot put over 50 feet, that is, until this winter boys’ track and field season. In fact, there are two Warriors —Andy Suarez and Billy Grosse — who have been breaking the school record meet after meet this year, and Jan. 29 was no different.

Reno Molina finished third in the 55-meter dash with a time of 6.87 seconds. Photo by Bill Landon

The seniors placed second and third at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood. Grosse had set a new school record with his toss of 50 feet, 11 inches, but it was short lived. Suarez sent his first shot put 50 feet, 8 inches, but came up moments after Grosse, and set a new record with his second toss of 50 feet, 11.25 inches.

After the last meet before the Suffolk County finals, the two remain ranked in the Top 15 throwers in the state.. Both will have their work cut out for them come then, because Kings Park’s Dan Byrne ruled the day with a toss that measured 56 feet, 9 inches.

“If I’m not throwing as well as I know I can, I’ll go off to the side and practice my form,” Suarez said. “I listen to what my coach is saying because I can’t look at myself, but he watches very closely.”

Comsewogue head coach Brad Posnanski said he knew the duo had the potential to throw as well as they have been, and said all season long the two have only pushed each other to work harder.

“Last year Billy Grosse threw 48 feet, 10 inches, and Andy Suarez had thrown 47 feet,” he recalled. “Earlier this season they both got better and better. Andy was the first to throw 50 feet, and then Billy threw 50 feet and we’ve never had that. They’re both great friends so to have two throwers over 50 feet is something pretty special.”

Travis Colon finished the 55-meter hurdles in 8.55 seconds for sixth place. Photo by Bill Landon

The meet, titled “Last Chance,” was an opportunity for the athletes to better their performance to gain a higher seed before the county championship, and other Warriors also made their presence known.

Coming back from a minor injury, sophomore Reno Molina clocked in a 6.87 seconds in the 55-meter dash to finish third behind Miller Place senior Bick Niemcyzk (6.85) and East Islip senior Andrew Moschetto (6.83). Sophomore Travis Colon took advantage of that opportunity, placing sixth overall in the 55 hurdles with a time of 8.55. He’s already an All-League competitor after placing sixth in the League IV championship last year.

“Reno Molina is a pleasant surprise,” Posnanski said. “Where he is in the county speed-wise, and he has the best chance to make a statement in the counties next week. My hurdler [Travis Colon] has made tremendous improvements with his technique with hard work and just sticking with it.”

Posnanski said he has been impressed with his younger runners on the team, who’ve bettered their times all season long.

“I have such a young team, so I didn’t have any expectations,” the coach said.

But Matt Krieg, who placed ninth in the 1,000 in 2:56.55, caught his eye.

Matt Krieg finished ninth in the 1,000-meter in 2:56.55. Photo by Bill Landon

“He’s tough when he runs and he’s a competitor,” the head coach said of his Warrior. “He won the freshman championship meet this year.”

Sophomore Brandon Bailey clocked in at 1:39.96 in the 600, for 22nd overall.

The county championships are will be Feb. 4 at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood at 10 a.m.

Grosse said he and his teammate will be ready.

“It’s all about repetition — we’ll get as many throws in as possible, lift some weights and then rest a day or two before the counties,” he said. “Andy was running and only began throwing this season, and having him around has been more important than anything, because without him, I wouldn’t be pushing myself the way I am.”

The big guns brought it home for Mount Sinai.

John Parente won by a major decision, 12-0, at 195 pounds, and Bobby Christ edged his opponent, 4-3, in the finals to propel Mount Sinai to a second-place finish behind Half Hollow Hills West at the Bob Armstrong wrestling tournament at Port Jefferson Jan. 21.

“I told them if you want to wrestle in the county tournament this is the last time to show us what you’ve got,” Mount Sinai head coach Matt Armstrong, who is also Bob’s son, said he told his team. “A freshman that just came up, Adam Shata, had a big win at 160 pound with a solid pin, so we have some freshmen that are really stepping up.”

Jahvan Brown at 138 pounds and Neil Esposito at 145 pounds, made some noise and, according to Armstrong, are wrestling well for this time of year despite their inexperience. Although neither made it to the finals, four other Mustangs did. The team had nine place in total.

“We’re turning it around here toward the end of the season.”

—Robert Alberti

Northport finished with 168 points, just behind Mount Sinai, which finished with 174.

Unlike the Mustangs, the Tigers brought it home in the finals, as all three representing the blue-and-gold took home tournament titles.

“We’re turning it around here toward the end of the season,” Northport head coach Robert Alberti said. Seven of his other wrestlers placed.

Junior Jake Borland, a 113-pounder, is currently ranked sixth in the county in his weight class. He topped Mount Sinai’s Matt Campo, 9-2, who is a returning county champion.

“We expect him to win every time he goes out,” Alberti said of his grappler. “It was a good test for him leading up to counties.”

Borland placed third in the Armstrong tournament last year, and brought his A-game this time around. He won his first match with a pin, and the next two by technical falls.

“I feel confident scoring points,” he said, adding that he knew he had to have a strong mentality and wrestle smart to win in the finals, using his fireman’s carry, duck under and high crotch to help him gain points.

Borland said he can see improvements in his game from last season.

“I got better at getting out on bottom, because last year I struggled with that,” he said. “Now I get right up. Right after [Campo] took me down I got out and took a shot, and I got him right to his back and scored. I got two for a takedown and three for back points and from there I started scoring.”

“[Kenny Cracchiola] wants to make an impact and he’s really done it. He’s beaten some really good guys and overall, matchup-to-matchup, he continues to be a dominant wrestler.”

—Garry Schnettler

At 132 pounds, junior Chris Esposito clinched the championship title with a 9-2 decision over Ward Melville’s Rafael Lievano, who is currently ranked third in the county. Esposito beat his opponent last weekend as well.

“That was a good statement for Chris to come out and beat the kid for a second time in a row,” Alberti said. “He’s showing the county that he’s here to wrestle, and he’s not going to be happy without winning.”

Esposito was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler after recording the most pins in the least amount of time. He pinned his first opponent in 20 seconds, his second in 59 and his third in 1:30, before sizing up his final foe. He said he came into the match knowing what he needed to do, and he wanted to prove that his win last weekend wasn’t a fluke.

“I knew the first time I wrestled him I didn’t wrestle as good as I could,” Esposito said. “Mentally, every time I go out to a match I’m calm, no matter what. I always want to score first, but even if I get scored on I never lose it; I remain calm and keep working.”

Billy Shaw was the final champion for Northport, who won 6-5 over Mount Sinai’s Joe Goodrich at 152 pounds. It was the grappler’s first tournament win.

“He had a tough match at North Babylon on Friday wrestling the No. 1-ranked kid in the county — he got beat up a little bit,” Alberti said. ”So for him to come out the next day and win his first tournament as a varsity wrestler is good for him. For him to turn around is a testament to his hard work.”

Ward Melville finished fourth with 136 points. In a unique and rare scenario, Kenny Cracchiola beat teammate Richie Munoz by a technical fall, 16-0.

Cracchiola went 4-0 on the day, winning three of his matches by technical falls and the other by a pin.

“I shoot single legs to take them down and on top I do a variety of different tilts for back points, which rack up points for me pretty quickly,” he said.

“Even before I step on the mat I’m always focused on wrestling, nothing else distracts me.”

—Vin Miceli

Unfortunately, he had to use these moves against his teammate, but he said he liked seeing two Patriots make it to the finals in the same weight class.

Port Jefferson followed in fifth place with 126.5 points, and sent seven to the podium.

Vin Miceli edged Centereach’s Luis Fernandez, 6-4, and was named the Champion of Champions. He had two pins as he battled his way through the bracket.

He said he focused to be able to bring home the gold.

“Even before I step on the mat I’m always focused on wrestling, nothing else distracts me,” he said. “I put in a lot of work in the off-season, so it really shows how much you can get out of the work you put in.”

Joey Evangelista edged Half Hollow Hills West’s Joe Costa, 3-0, for his title at 145 pounds. He pinned his first three opponents, but said his finals match was tough.

“My coaches have preached mentality is everything, so I’ve been working on strengthening that,” he said.

According to head coach Mike Maletta, the junior has been a finalist in every tournament this season, and won two.

“As long as they both stay aggressive and take smart shots and pushing the pace, they’re going to be real successful in three weeks when they’re up in Albany,” Maletta said of the possibility of the Royals competing for state titles. “The excitement is that some guys are starting to exceed expectations.”

Centereach finished in seventh with 93 points. Jett Tancsik outscored his Half Hollow Hills West opponent 9-4, for the 160-pound championship title.

Centereach head coach Ray Bruno said he was pleased with his team’s performance. He said the tournament is a good tune up to get ready for the Cougars’ matches in the League III tournament.

“This is probably the 10th year for this tournament and I appreciate them doing it keeping my dad’s memory alive.”

— Matt Armstrong

Rounding out the scorers in the top 9 were No. 8 Harborfields with 88 points, and Comsewogue with 39.

According to Matt Armstrong, his father coached at Port Jefferson from 1969 to 1990, where they were league champions for eight years and won the New York State championship cup in 1986.

“They had some very successful teams here at the time,” he said. “It’s great to come back here as I see a lot of people I haven’t seen in a long time. Many of the kid’s parents wrestled for my dad. This is probably the 10th year for this tournament and I appreciate them doing it keeping my dad’s memory alive, it’s Mike Maletta who keeps it going, and he does a great job.”

Borland said his Northport team has exceeded his expectations, and he’s looking forward to rounding out the season with the final dual meet of the season Jan. 27 at Smithtown West at 6:45 p.m., before heading to Syosset for the Battle of the Belt tournament the next day.

“Coming into this year I thought we were going to be absolutely terrible,” he said. “I thought we were going to have three good kids and we were going to be that team that gets beat up on, but I realized we have a few freshmen that are going to make very good wrestlers. We’re a young team, but we’re doing damage.”

Bill Landon contributed reporting

Rafael Lievano went 3-1 in the tournament at Comsewogue, losing to Northport in the finals. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Ward Melville’s wrestling team had two Patriots, seniors Kenny Cracchiola and Sean Fitzsimmons, pull away undefeated during a multi-team dual meet Jan. 14 at Comsewogue High School. Ward Melville faced off against St. John the Baptist, Riverhead, Bay Shore and Northport.

“This is my fourth year on varsity and honestly this is the best overall team we’ve had,” Cracchiola said. “I think with this year’s team we can knock off [some] of the top teams in the county.”

A four-year varsity starter, Cracchiola won his first three matches against Bay Shore, St. John the Baptist and Riverhead, by technical falls — defeating each opponent by scoring 15 more points than his challenger had on him.

Nick Little faces off against his opponent. Photo by Bill Landon

He faced a Northport opponent in the 120-pound finals, and earned his 111th career win, going 4-0.

At 126 pounds, Fitzsimons defeated Bay Shore’s Carlos Espinal, an All-League player who Ward Melville head coach Garrett Schnettler said is a county-ranked wrestler. Fitzsimons pinned him in the first period.

“I’m 3-0 right now,” Fitzsimons said following the win. “I feel that we all have something to prove this year — I think some of the other teams are brushing us off and we’ll be looking to knock off a few big names this season.”

Fitzsimons defeated both his Riverhead and St. John the Baptist opponents by technical falls, and also went 4-0.

Junior Rafael Lievano, a returning All-League and All-County standout from last season, was also undefeated heading into the final match of the afternoon.

Preparing for the tournament, the 132-pounder said he worked hard on eating right and going to bed early, knowing he was going to be facing some tough opponents. After winning his first three matches by technical falls, his final match proved to be his biggest challenge.

Tyler Lynde went 3-0 in the tournament. Photo by Bill Landon

He and his opponent know each other well.

“I’m going to face a tough kid from Northport — Chris Esposito,” Lievano said. “It’ll be a tough match. We’re good friends.”

Lievano said he beat Esposito 4-3 last year, and the match proved to be another tough one, with the Ward Melville grappler coming out on the losing end this time around.

Despite battling injuries this season, losing key wrestlers and having to forfeit matches in some weight classes, according to Schnettler, his team ended up going 2-2 in the tournament, topping St. John the Baptist and Riverhead.

Ward Melville finished 3-2 in League I this season, and travels to Port Jefferson High School Jan. 21 for the final tournament of the season, the Bob Armstrong Tournament, which will begin at 8 a.m.

The Patriots will continue to rely on key grapplers to get the job done.

“We’ve had some big matches by Kenny Cracchiola, Rafael Lievano and Sean Fitzsimons,” Schnettler said. “Our three core guys that we expect big things from once again come in and get the wins that we need.”

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Girls' basketball team already making huge strides this season

Nora Gabel dribbles the ball around a Westhampton opponent. Photo by Desirée Keegan

What a difference a year can make.

With the Comsewogue girls’ basketball’s 54-37 win over Westhampton Jan. 10, the Warriors have already improved on last season’s League V record. Junior guard Nora Gabel, who experienced the struggles of last season first-hand, is leading the way this year.

Megan Turner moves the ball up the court. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“Westhampton is always a really close game — we’re really evenly matched, and last year we lost to them in overtime at the buzzer, so we came in knowing not to take it easy,” Gabel said.

The junior scored a game-high 23 points in the win, but classmate Megan Turner was responsible for getting the ball rolling.

Turner tallied 10 points in the first quarter to help the Warriors to a 20-8 lead after eight minutes. Senior Sam Collins added five points and Gabel chipped in four in the opening quarter.

Gabel said the team was successful because of the way the Warriors not only schemed against their opponent but also their unselfish team play.

“We knew what strategies they were going to use, so we practiced plays around it and helped other girls get to the basket to score,” she said. “We set a lot of screens to help others get open. No one is a selfish player. We pass each other the ball, and it helps.”

She said that was part of the team’s problem last season, which led to a 3-9 League V record. With the win over Westhampton, Comsewogue is now 4-1.

Sam Collins shoots a three-pointer. Photo by Desirée Keegan

The Warriors slowed down in the second, scoring seven points — four from junior Georgia Alexiou — but still took a 27-16 lead into the locker room.

“We got stops when we needed it,” Comsewogue head coach Joe Caltagirone said. “I wasn’t too happy with the rebounding in the first half, but it was better in the second half. We have a few girls that can score and a few girls that play good defense, so we just play a good team game.”

The team rode the hot hand in the second half.

Gabel came out guns blazing, scoring the first nine points for her team with two field goals, a three-point play and two free throws.

“We’re able to force a lot of turnovers — we steal the ball a lot — and we’re fast too, so we can capitalize on those turnovers and get easy baskets,” Gabel said.

She had two breakaway baskets and five steals, and finished the scoring in the third with a buzzer-beating layup that put her team up 42-28.

“I was happy that she got a little more aggressive in the second half,” Caltagirone said of Gabel. “I think she was a little passive in the first half, but she totally changed the momentum of the game because they thought they had her in check, and then she got a couple of easy baskets in the third quarter and they exerted a lot of energy trying to play catch-up.”

The Warriors were able to control the final eight minutes, with Gabel scoring seven of the team’s 12 points.

Lauren Gray carries the ball into Westhampton’s zone. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“She scores in a variety of ways — she can hook the threes, she gets to the basket, she gets to the line; she’s shifty,” Caltagirone said. “She has a couple of moves in her arsenal she can use at any time. She takes pride in what she does and she works hard. There are games where she doesn’t score as much, but we win, and she’s happy with that, too.”

Gabel said she’s most excited about making a statement this season.

“Our games haven’t been that close, so I think we have a better chance of coming second in the league, or maybe even taking first if we beat Harborfields the second time we play them,” she said. “I want to make playoffs this season. Last season we were the underdogs and everyone thought we were so bad, and it’d be nice to show them who we really are.”

Newfield's Paul Vonvoight drives to the hoop. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Newfield eighth-grader Ziggy Hoe’s first points were game-winning, literally.

The guard, making his debut at the varsity level, swished a three-pointer with less than a minute left to give his team a 58-56 advantage, and ultimately the win, for the Wolverines. Newfield edged out Comsewogue, 59-56, in the physical and foul-riddled nonleague game Dec. 13.

“They were very aggressive; they can make plays,” Newfield head coach Anthony Agostino said of Comsewogue. “I have two freshman and an eighth-grader. I’m real proud of my guys because they played so hard.”

It was a slow start, as neither team scored in the first three minutes of play. Comsewogue junior David Heller broke the ice when he hit a three-pointer, and after three unanswered field goals by Newfield, Heller tacked on another three-pointer to tie the game.

Newfield's justin Ottenwalder scores a layup. Photo by Bill Landon
Newfield’s Justin Ottenwalder scores a layup. Photo by Bill Landon

The Warriors’ defense put on an aerial show, blocking several shots, which forced the Wolverines to shoot from outside the paint. As a result, Comsewogue went on a run that helped it edge ahead 14-8 two minutes into the second quarter.

The teams traded points, and Comsewogue junior guard Tyler Petruzzi hit a long distance three-pointer with just under three minutes left until halftime that put his Warriors out front 21-12. Newfield rallied with a pair of defensive steals, and made it a four-point game by the break, 23-19.

Newfield’s Paul Vonvoight had the hot hand in the third, as the junior guard banked three field goals to put his team out front for the first time, 24-23, with 6:40 left in the quarter. The Warriors countered to retake the lead, 25-24, but Vonvoight drained a three-pointer to make it a three-point game, 33-30, with less than three minutes left in the third.

“We knew they’re a great team — we had to come out and fight for every point,” Vonvoight said. “We had to keep our cool, be humble and focus on every possession.”

Comsewogue went on a 8-1 run, and junior Dylan Morris Gray took to the floor after the Warriors’ starting point guard fouled out.

“We caught a break when [Joey] Carillo fouled out,” Agostino said.

But the team didn’t miss a beat. Morris Gray drove the lane and fought his way to the rim for two points and was fouled in the process. He completed the three-point play from the charity stripe to give his team a 40-34 lead, and both teams added a field goal to end the third with Comsewogue up 42-36.

The teams opened the final stanza trading points again, but this time, at the charity stripe. Then, Newfield senior forward Justin Ottenwalder hit a long distance trey to trail by three with just under five minutes left. Next, Ottenwalder stole the ball and drove the baseline, where he was fouled. He went to the line shooting once, and scored to tie the game 52-52 with 2:17 left in regulation.

“The first game was going to be hard because you’re not used to the speed of the game,” Ottenwalder said. “Effort and energy won the game for us today.”

Comsewogue's Alan Smith shoots over a defender. Photo by Bill Landon
Comsewogue’s Alan Smith shoots over a defender. Photo by Bill Landon

Comsewogue junior guard Alan Smith spoke next with a shot from three-point land, only to have Ottenwalder counter, tying the game at 55-55.

After Comsewogue junior guard Tom McGuire split his chances at the free-throw line, Hoe dropped his three-pointer with 41 seconds on the clock, for the 58-56 lead.

“We were taking quick shots when we had the lead — we could’ve taken our time, taken all 35 seconds off the shot clock,” Heller said. “But we didn’t do that, and it cost us the game.”

Newfield’s defense made a stand and denied Comsewogue with a turnover, and drew a foul on a play with 5.4 seconds left. Vonvoight, shooting for two points, hit the front end but missed the back, for the point that gave the game its final score.

“The turnovers were a big thing — but I thought our rebounding was a lot better than our last game,” Comsewogue junior forward and center Patrick Billings said. “We can’t have the kind of mistakes we had today. We’ve just got to play better next game.”

Ottenwalder finished with 17 points for Newfield, and Vonvoight added 15.

Heller led Comsewogue with 18 points.

Comsewogue head coach Joel Sutherland told his team that the loss will serve as a wake-up call.

“I thought we came out strong, but we have to get better taking care of the ball,” Sutherland said. “This game will make us better, and it’ll make us stronger.”

Newfield hits the road to open league play Dec. 20 at Copiague, with tipoff scheduled for 4 p.m. Comsewogue will host Harborfields the same day at 5:45 p.m.

Casey Schmitt dribbles the ball up the field. Photo by Desirée Keegan

The first round of playoffs is a hurdle the Mount Sinai girls’ soccer team hasn’t been able to jump over in some time.

The Mustangs fell to No. 3 Elwood-John Glenn 1-0 last season, and No. 1 Sayville the year prior, 3-0, and despite an 8-3-1 record, didn’t see the postseason the year before that.

Missy Carpenito receives a pass. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Missy Carpenito receives a pass. Photo by Desirée Keegan

This time, the No. 4-seeded senior-laden squad, and more specifically, its three co-captains, had other ideas, and blanked No. 5 visiting Comsewogue 3-0 in the Class A first round Oct. 25.

“We’ve worked so hard to accomplish this goal,” senior outside midfielder Missy Carpenito said. “We finally made it.”

The co-captain was first to light up the scoreboard when she stuffed in a rebound off Comsewogue senior goalkeeper Erica Hickey’s save with just over 17 minutes left in the first half. Sophomore striker Gabby Sartori assisted on the play.

“I saw the ball coming across with the rebound from the goalie, and coach [Courtney Leonard] says to always make that rebound, so I went for it,” Carpenito said.

Leading 1-0 at half time, Mount Sinai’s head coach gave her team the reality check it needed.

“Tighten it up,” Leonard told her girls. “This is possibly the sloppiest game we played all season. They’re winning practically every 50/50 ball. Was that not our goal?”

Although the Mustangs still struggled to win possession of loose balls, senior sweeper Antonia Calamas had an opportunity to extend the lead, and made it count.

At the 22:33 mark, senior forward Leah Nonnenmann was knocked down heading to goal, and Calamas came up to take the free kick.

Emily Seiter tosses the ball into play. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Emily Seiter tosses the ball into play. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“I don’t get to score a lot, so that was really exciting for me,” the co-captain said. “Most of us have been playing together since last season. A lot of us play on travel too, so we’ve been working together for so long that playing with each other just comes naturally to us.”

And with Calamas’ goal, the Mustangs were up by two.

Six minutes later, Calamas showed her strength on the defensive side of the ball. With the Warriors knowing they didn’t have much time to level the score, the team made offensive pushes that forced Mount Sinai off its game. As junior goalkeeper Caiya Schuster came out of the box after making a save, Comsewogue found itself with the ball again, and tried to capitalize on the miscue. That’s when Calamas came in to knock the ball out of bounds to preserve the shutout.

“They were playing with three strikers up top, and we’re not used to that, so I think that’s why we had a couple of breakdowns,” Calamas said. “But I wasn’t worried because I knew we could handle it. Even if it does get crazy sometimes, I stay calm.”

With less than 10 minutes left to play, senior defender Victoria Johnson made a similar play, where she blocked a shot with Schuster out of the net.

“We had some scary mishaps on defense that we were able to clear, and that saved us,” Leonard said. “We’ve been covering for each other all year and I think the girls did a great job of it today. If one man is literally down on the floor, the next one is clearing the ball out and helping them up. We played as a cohesive unit.”

Her team also finished when it needed to finish, and senior forward Casey Schmitt put the game out of reach when she scored off another Comsewogue rebound. After Carpenito raced up top and took a shot from the far post, the co-captain caught the rebounded save on the other side, and made contact to knock the ball in.

Antonia Calamas is embraced by her teammates after scoring the second goal of the game. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Antonia Calamas is embraced by her teammates after scoring the second goal of the game. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Mount Sinai’s head coach was proud to see her players fight through the first round, but wasn’t shy when saying her team needs to get back into form.

“It’s not our best performance so far,’’ she said. “I would’ve liked to see much more of a possession game; I would’ve liked to see us use the outsides more, but in the end, we got it done.”

She’s hoping the girls will continue to grow, and thinks that can be done when Mount Sinai goes up against No. 1 Islip Oct. 28 at 2:30 p.m.

“Islip is obviously a great team and a great program, but eventually you’re going to face a great team and a great program, so we’re looking forward to it,” Leonard said. “We’re welcoming the challenge.”

The Mustangs have already seen Islip twice this season. The first time, a 4-1 loss on Sept. 10, and the second, a 3-1 defeat on Sept. 29.

Despite the outcome, Sartori said her team will be ready to fight. She said if any team can continue to overcome obstacles, it’s this one.

“I’ve been waiting four long years for this,” she said of making the postseason. “Facing Islip is going to be hard, but I think we will rise to the challenge and make our mark.”

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Vanessa Rodriguez races across the St. Anthony's Invitational 5K-course at Sunken Meadow State Park. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Karina Allen will be racing her way to the state qualifiers.

The Comsewogue sophomore hit the road with her team for the St. Anthony’s Invitational at Sunken Meadow State Park Sept. 30, and despite the constant drizzle and 35 mph gusts of wind that would make it hard for any athlete, the Warriors’ cross country standout finished the 5K event just 14 seconds shy of her personal best.

Karina Allen, who finished the St. Anthony's Invitational 5K race in 13th place out of 190 runners, will be competing in the state qualifier this November. Photo by Bill Landon
Karina Allen, who finished the St. Anthony’s Invitational 5K race in 13th place out of 190 runners, will compete in the state qualifier this November. Photo by Bill Landon

Scores of runners answered the gun in a mass start for the 5K-event on the Cardiac Hill course, facing unrelenting wind as the rain came down sideways, making for slippery conditions. Allen crossed the finish line in 21 minutes, 11.46 , which placed her 13th out of 190 runners.

“Just going up Cardiac [Hill] — that’s just really the worst part, but going down Snake is easier — you just have to let yourself go,” Allen said. “I struggled at the bottom of Cardiac, and going up I was just sore in my legs and in my forearms, but going down the rest of the hill I was ok.”

Comsewogue head coach Charlotte Johnson said Allen has tremendous potential, and will set the tone for the team for the remainder of the season.

“Today was Karina’s personal best on this course, and she has already run under the time required for entry into the state qualification meet,” Johnson said. Allen will be competing at the qualifier for the first time this November.

Second across the line for the Warriors was classmate Mya Darsan, who placed 95th with a time of 24:38.14. Darsan said despite the wind and rain, she liked the conditions.

“It’s a bit windy; it’s a bit cold, but it feels nice when you’re running because it’s not as hot,” she said. “The wind does hold you up, but when it’s at your back, it gives you a nice push.”

Darsan did agree that the hardest part of the course was Cardiac Hill.

At the St. Anthony's Invitational, first-year varsity runner Mya Darsan reached a new personal record with her 95th-place finish. Photo by Bill Landon
At the St. Anthony’s Invitational, first-year varsity runner Mya Darsan reached a new personal record with her 95th-place finish. Photo by Bill Landon

“It’s very difficult; it’s a mountain,” she said. “It’s not straight up — when you think you’re done, there’s another one [to climb]. It’s steep and dirt is coming from everywhere; it’s painful.”

Third across the line for Comsewogue was senior Vanessa Rodriguez-Reyes, who finished 107th in 25:14.43. The time was 18 seconds shy of her personal best.

“At the start, we were running into the wind and that made it hard, so you have to push yourself a lot,” Rodriguez-Reyes said. “But then coming back it was better.”

She also said Cardiac Hill is steep, adding that sometimes runners don’t have enough energy to run up, so they walk.

Johnson said her team’s challenge will be to keep everyone healthy, as the Warriors build toward the division meet.

“The team’s strength is three-fold — the girls who run in the middle of our pack; our leading runner, Karina Allen; and our group of outstanding freshman, including several who have run well this year over the 1.47-mile and 5K courses,” she said. “We have a young team showing great promise for the future.”

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By Bill Landon

Comsewogue hosted Hauppauge on Sept. 24, and it was only fitting that the Warriors’ homecoming battle on the gridiron snapped a 10-game losing streak, dating back to the 2015 season.

The Warriors hadn’t won a football game since 2014.

Having dropped the first two games of the season, Comsewogue was on a long string of defeats — so the team was desperate for a win. After squandering a 14-point lead late in the game, the Comsewogue defense stood its ground, and stopped a late-game drive by the Eagles that would have tied the game with seconds remaining, and the Warriors escaped with a 27-21 victory.

“We can never finish games and we were due for this,” senior quarterback Anthony Guardiano said. “We were due to win this game and we did it. We did it as a team. We’ve been busting our butts this week, and we’ve been so much more disciplined than we were last season. We honestly deserved this, and that it was homecoming, made it even better.”

The quarterback pulled double duty on the afternoon, running for 134 yards and rushing in two touchdowns, while snagging a crucial interception in the third quarter to stall a Hauppauge drive that changed the momentum of the game.

After Guardiano scored the first touchdown of the game on a 47-yard run, Kai Cochrane got the call, and pounded the ball up the middle — like he did most of the afternoon — to the second touchdown of the game on a 1-yard run. Although the extra-point attempt by senior kicker Shane Wolff failed following the second touchdown, the Warriors found themselves out front, 13-0.

“We were due to win this game and we did it. We did it as a team. We’ve been busting our butts this week, and we’ve been so much more disciplined than we were last season. We honestly deserved this, and that it was homecoming, made it even better.”

— Anthony Guardiano

The margin of victory could’ve been much greater, had the Warriors not committed as many mistakes as they did. Twice, touchdown passes from Guardiano connected with his open wide receiver, senior Tyler Timpanaro, who came down with the ball in the end zone, but both times the play was called back because of penalties.

On Comsewogue’s next possession, Cochrane, a junior running back and linebacker, broke to the outside and went the distance for the score, only to have the ball called back on a holding penalty. Instead, Hauppauge scored on its ensuing drive to close the gap, 13-7.

Guardiano made things interesting when he sprinted down the right sideline for a first down following a fake punt on a third-and-out, but the Warriors couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity. Both teams traded possession and neither team could score in the third, but Cochrane found the end zone a minute into the fourth quarter on a 14-yard run. He then bulled his way up the middle for a successful 2-point conversion for a 21-7 advantage.

“After halftime, we made adjustments — the coaches got together and made some [changes] offensively and defensively,” Comsewogue head coach Sean Tremblay said. “You can have any scheme you want, and they’re all sound, but it all boils down to the kids who have to execute it.”

Hauppauge discovered a weakness in the Comsewogue secondary, and moved to the air, tossing the ball to open receivers as the Eagles moved the chains down the field. Hauppauge’s quarterback hit his open receiver down the right sideline for a score with nine minutes left in the game, and with the point-after attempt successful, drew his teamwithin six points, to trail 21-14.

On the ensuing kickoff, Comsewogue coughed up the ball and Hauppauge recovered in strong field position. The Eagles marched downfield for another score, and tied the game 21-21 at the 7:31 mark, after the extra-point kick was good.

With 5:15 left in regulation, Guardiano took matters into his own hands and traveled outside on a broken play, running 63 yards for a touchdown. The 2-point conversion attempt failed, and as the clock unwound, the Eagles went back to their aerial offense, finding open receivers over the middle for short yardage as they marched down the field. With 18 seconds on the clock, Hauppauge knocked on Comsewogue’s door, advancing the ball to the 9-yard line. With eight seconds left, the team completed another pass over the middle to move to the 3-yard line. The Eagles tried to get another play in, but a tackle on the 1-yard line prevented a score as time expired.

“This was an emotional win — we needed it badly because were going on 700 days without a win,” Cochrane said. “Today’s win was beautiful, especially on homecoming weekend. We need to stop the mental errors, and we need to keep this momentum going.”

Kingsmen have won all six matchups, 3-0, this season

Carly Esterson opened the first set on a service tare, scoring 10 straight points. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

When you think of girls’ volleyball, you think Kings Park.

The Kingsmen have been a powerhouse for years, and despite losing strong seniors each year, the team continues its winning ways. In the still early season, Kings Park has managed to sweep all five of its opponents leading up to the Sept. 19 matchup against Comsewogue, which was no different.

The Kingsmen invaded Warrior territory, and although Comsewogue came close in the second set, the five-time Long Island champions prevailed, defeating their opponent 25-7, 25-17, 25-6.

Kings Park head coach Ed Manly was happy with the result the team put up despite its much different roster.

“We had a little bit of a different [mix] out there today, so that was an adjustment for our girls,” Manly said. “If you haven’t seen us play before, you wouldn’t know we’ve had a serious adjustment to our lineup.”

Sophomore Carly Esterson set the tone early with an unbroken service rally that put Kings Park out front 11-1. It was the setter’s first varsity start, but you wouldn’t know it, as she settled in scoring point after point.

Kings Park's Lauren Kloos tallies a kill. Photo by Bill Landon
Kings Park’s Lauren Kloos tallies a kill. Photo by Bill Landon

“I don’t really play much, but we were together mentally on the floor,” Esterson said. “We had good communication.”

Comsewogue struggled at the net — having a hard time finding a rhythm — as Kings Park demonstrated why they’ve gone to the New York State quarterfinals four out of the last five years.

Momentum shifted in the next, as Comsewogue closed within three points midway through the second set, trailing 17-14. It would be as close as the team would come though, as Kings Park slammed the door, taking the set 25-17.

Manly pushed deep into his roster throughout the game, and each player on the team saw action.

“Everyone from the first kid on the floor to the last kid on the bench got after it tonight,” he said. “They played hard, they were loud and vocal, so there’s a real sense of family on the court. They feed off of that.”

The Kingsmen turned up the heat in the third set, jumping out to a 13-3 advantage, forcing Comsewogue to call a time out. Looking for the first win of the season, Comsewogue head coach Kevin Parker did not doubt Kings Parks’ power.

Comsewogue's Georgia Alexiou battles at the net. Photo by Bill Landon
Comsewogue’s Georgia Alexiou battles at the net. Photo by Bill Landon

“We knew Kings Park was going to be good — we know their reputation,” Parker said. “But our girls have been putting in a lot of work this year. We’re building, and the hope is to turn this program around.”

Senior outside hitter Lauren Kloos said her teams’ preparation was no different from any other game, and Kings Park put the matter to bed, and dominated the final set, claiming a 25-6 set to sweep the match.

“We faced Comsewogue like we prepare for any [team],” she said. “We put in our practice and we get ready. Our sophomore setter [Carly Esterson] — the way she stepped up — she completely killed it, so to be able to communicate and adapt to a new setter on the court, we did it really well. I don’t think we could’ve done it any better.”

Jack Costa high-fives teammate Michael Gohn after scoring. Photo by Desirée Keegan

A little wind and rain wasn’t enough to stop Rocky Point’s boys’ soccer team.

As the remnants of Tropical Storm Hermine pounded Long Island, the Eagles tore up the field, scoring two slippery goals in a 2-0 shutout victory over visiting Comsewogue.

“They did well considering the weather,” Rocky Point head coach Joe Camarda said. “It was a back and forth game and we were fortunate enough to put the ball in the net.”

Xavier Guey-Mock changes direction with Comsewogue’s Kieran Pagano on his back. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Xavier Guey-Mock changes direction with Comsewogue’s Kieran Pagano on his back. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Despite Comsewogue setting the pace and controlling the time of possession in the first 40 minutes, Rocky Point junior forward Xavier Guey-Mock scored off a breakaway with 7:32 left in the half to give the Eagles the lead. A Warrior opponent dove to stop him from gaining possession at the 40-yard line, though the slide just missed, and Guey-Mock was able to easily dart to the net. As Comsewogue senior goalkeeper Harrison Granger slid to his right, Guey-Mock knocked it into the empty far left corner for the 1-0 advantage.

“I started running down and saw the goalie come out, so I tried to chip it in and it worked,” the goal-scorer said. “I play in this weather a lot though, so it wasn’t that bad.”

At the 37:56 mark of the second half, junior center midfielder Jack Costa gave his team a 2-0 advantage. After receiving a pass at the 20-yard line, he sent the ball toward the box, and it ended up floating into the left corner, past the diving keeper.

“It was a little too far away from me, so I toe poked at it and hit it right,” he said. “It just happened to go in as I slipped on the ground.”

While Costa thought his Eagles looked sloppy in the first half, he said the team’s chemistry is what helped them pull through.

“We worked hard and put in the effort to get the result,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun, a lot of hard work, but good practices make good games.”

Twelve returning seniors have been a major help in carrying over team chemistry from the 2015 team. Camarda said he believes this is one of his best teams he’s had in the 10 years he’s been coaching at Rocky Point.

“It’s a big senior group, but we have 22 on the roster and everyone has a great attitude; they’re putting in what I ask them to put in and I can’t ask for more,” he said.

The head coach said he has a strong returner in defensive back Dylan Trude and added that senior goalkeeper Michael Antici has improved immensely during the offseason. Camarda said the Eagles have a strong midfield, but there isn’t a standout player on the team. Instead, they’ll rely on strength in numbers.

Luis Hernandez grabs possession in front of the goal. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Luis Hernandez grabs possession in front of the goal. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“We don’t have an outstanding player, so we’re all working together as a unit,” he said.

He’s also proud of how his Eagles managed to keep their composure.

“Under these conditions and with this weather, that’s all you can ask, is for them to stay composed, stay focused,” he said. “I asked us to defend as a unit and finish the opportunities we had, and they did that, so I’m proud of them.”

To maintain their competitive edge, Guey-Mock said the Eagles will have a few things to improve upon.

“We need to work on talking a little more,” he said. “Even though the ball skips on the turf, we also need to work on our passing.”

Camarda said he hopes his team can continue to rise to the occasion when Rocky Point travels to Sayville Sept. 9 for a 4:30 p.m. matchup at Depot Street Field.

“They have determination, setting their goals and trying to reach them,” Camarda said. “We’re just taking it one game at a time and we hope we continue to perform like we did today.”

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