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Harborfields’ Mikayla Bergin reaches over an East Islip defender and rockets the ball toward the cage in the Tornadoes’ 14-13 win Tuesday. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Down 3-0 five minutes into the game, the Harborfields girls’ lacrosse team may have been down but not out, battling back to edge out host East Islip 14-13 Tuesday to continue a four-game winning streak.

“They left everything out on the field and as a coach, win or lose, when your girls play with heart and pride and never give up, that’s the greatest moment,” Harborfields head coach Kerri McGinty said. “You’re always going to have lulls in a game, but it’s about perseverance, being resilient and coming out on top.”

With 18:07 left to play in the first half, after junior midfielder and attack Angela Deren intercepted a pass, she sent the ball to junior attack Caitlin Schaefer, who dumped it in up high in front of the net for the Tornadoes’ first point.

Harborfields began winning possession of the ground balls off the draw, and four minutes after her first goal, Schaefer came through with another goal off a pass after a foul call to pull within one, 3-2.

Harborfields’ Caitlin Schaefer, who finished the game with six goals, scoops up a ground ball. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Harborfields’ Caitlin Schaefer, who finished the game with six goals, scoops up a ground ball. Photo by Desirée Keegan

After two East Islip goals, the Tornadoes answered with two of their own to pull within a goal again, and after winning the next draw, junior midfielder Ella Simkins pushed her way up to the front of the net and sent a straight shot to the back of the cage. Her goal tied the game 5-5 with 5:49 left in the half, but a minute later, East Islip countered to maintain the lead.

“We really worked as a team today,” Simkins said. “Every game we play, we play with so much heart. It’s amazing to see everyone get each other’s back. Even if they score a goal we’re back and scoring even more.”

And Simkins did.

The junior midfielder opened the scoring of the second half with another goal to yet again tie the game, and Schaefer scored her hat trick goal on the next play less than a minute later off an assist from senior midfielder, attack and co-captain Nicole Bifulco, to give the Tornadoes their first lead of the game, 7-6.

“We knew we had to prepare for this game and the last few practices it’s been all about preparing for East Islip and it was so awesome as a coach to see everything we practiced come to fruition,” McGinty said. “You get down, but you have to stay up and that’s something we talk about in practice.”

The teams continued to trade the lead until sophomore midfielder Falyn Dwyer scooped up a ground ball and rushed to an open front of the net and, from the right side, knocked it into the opposite corner for a 13-11 advantage with 6:42 left to play.

East Islip countered at 5:20, and after possession flip-flopped to both sides of the field, Bifulco netted a goal of her own before East Islip again made it a one-goal game.

Harborfields’ Nicole Bifulco maintains possession of the ball with two East Islip players at her hip. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Harborfields’ Nicole Bifulco maintains possession of the ball with two East Islip players at her hip. Photo by Desirée Keegan

The Tornadoes’ defense held it down with a minute left, and with two ticks on the clock, the team forced a turnover to seal the deal.

“It’s such an adrenaline rush; my heart’s beating out of my chest — to storm the field with everybody is amazing,” Schaefer said following the win. “Our hard work paid off, and it’s important for us to stick together as a family and keep our effort and consistency up.”

McGinty said she always believes that her team will come through in the end.

“I think my defense did a hell of a job,” she said. “Defense really never gets the recognition attack gets, but coming down to the draw controls, the doubles, that last few minutes holding them off. Every single component on the field came together.”

Schaefer finished with six goals, Simkins tallied two goals and three assists and Deren tacked on a goal and three assists to lead Harborfields in points.

With the win, the Tornadoes improve to 5-1 in Division II and look to extend their winning streak when they travel to Westhampton on Thursday at 4 p.m.

“No game is ever perfect, you can always get better,” McGinty said. “You can always improve, so we go into the rest of the schedule, it’s pretty tough, but we hope we can keep rolling with the wins.”

Committee established to look into 2016-’17 implementation

Harborfields Superintendent Diana Todaro. File photo by Rohma Abbas

The Harborfields school board has green-lighted the creation of a committee that will explore the possibility of implementing full-day kindergarten in the district — a program residents say is key to early childhood education.

An online petition spearheaded by parent Jennifer Rogdakis sometime last month calls on the district to create a full-day kindergarten program, as parents feel the current half-day program is not enough for students. Roughly 400 parents have signed onto the petition.

Rogdakis, a parent of a 4-year-old and 6-month-old, said full-day kindergarten is crucial for successfully implementing the Common Core Learning Standards. She also said she feels the standards are designed with full-day kindergarten in mind.

“Half-day is not enough anymore,” Rogdakis said. “I don’t want my son to feel he has to catch up in two years.”

Harborfields school district residents aren’t alone in their desire to see full-day kindergarten at their district. Local districts have made strides towards full-day kindergarten. The Northport-East Northport school board just approved a proposed budget that would include full-day kindergarten and the Huntington school district brought the program back last year. The change.org petition claims Harborfields is in the minority of districts statewide without full-day kindergarten.

“It is incumbent upon the district and board to give our children the same opportunity for quality education as children in 97 percent of New York State school districts,” the petition reads.

Following the launch of the petition, the school board announced at its March 7 meeting the new committee that would explore full-day kindergarten in the 2016-17 school year.

According to a letter from Superintendent Diana Todarao, the district is currently accepting applications from residents who are interested serving on committee. The application can be found on the district’s website. Rogdakis said she has handed in her application and wants to be on this committee. She praised the district and said it could suffer without full-day kindergarten.

Centerport resident Marge Acosta said she feels students are done a disservice with a half-day kindergarten program. She criticized the two-and-a-half hour school day and said it isn’t enough time for students to learn. Acosta said it’s as difficult for teachers as it is for students, because teachers are forced to squeeze in what they can during the roughly two-hour day.

“This is the time when their brains are developing and their skills are developing,” Acosta said. “This is the time to put money into their education.”

The school board said it and the district greatly value the community’s input on the matter and are appreciative of their feedback.

“In an effort to fully investigate the need for full-day kindergarten, we thought it was necessary to involve our community in the process from the very beginning,” according to the statement. “This committee, which will be comprised of a variety of community residents, will present their findings to the board in the early fall.”

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.