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The defensive end's big stop, catches lead Panthers

By Bill Landon

Miller Place’s Panthers made a stand.

The football team’s defense rose to the occasion when the Suffolk County championship title was on the line in a 25-25 game with just under two minutes left to play.

As No. 1-seeded Babylon barreled toward the end zone at Stony Brook University Nov. 16, No. 2 Miller Place’s defense forced a turnover on fourth-and-8 at their 34-yard line, and Anthony Seymour scored a touchdown on the ensuing possession to put the Division IV game away, 33-25. The win clinched Miller Place’s first football title since the championships began in 1992.

At the heart of it all was 5-foot, 3-inch senior Anthony Filippetti, who made the stop to force the turnover and followed it up by getting behind the secondary for a 27-yard reception to the Babylon 6 to set up the final score. The catch came after Seymour was sacked for a 7-yard loss.

To cap the championship-winning drive, Seymour faked a handoff to Tyler Ammirato heading over right tackle, and bolted off left tackle for a 3-yard rush into the end zone that snapped a 25-all tie with 21 seconds left.

“After we stopped them on downs I looked at Anthony [Seymour] and said, ‘If we don’t get in the end zone I’m never talking to you again,’” Ammirato said jokingly. “But he did, and we got the win. It’s the best feeling in the world.”

The county title-winning drive started with 1:45 left. Ammirato, a Seymour-to-Tom Nealis connection and Filippetti helped the Panthers drive 66 yards in seven plays.

“With our playmaker — Nealis — it’s comforting to know that you have a kid like that,” Miller Place head coach Greg Murphy said. “It makes you feel that you’re never really out of it. He’s been doing that all year long.”

Filippetti scored the first Miller Place touchdown of the evening on a 54-yard run on the second play from scrimmage and Cameron Hammer’s kick tied it at 7 with 7:43 left in the first quarter.

Babylon capped the first with another touchdown, but the point-after attempt failed, making the lead 13-7 heading into the second.

Seymour and Nealis were at it again to open the second, with Nealis catching a 34-yard pass from his field general. The teams were tied again when the Panthers’ point-after attempt also went wayward.

Nealis hauled in a 54-yard pass and run soon after, being forced out at the 2-yard line to set up Ammirato’s first of two touchdowns. The kicks failed on both and the scores were separated by a Babylon touchdown.

“In the beginning of the game we ran the ball trying to establish the ground game to eat up the clock,” Murphy said. “We needed that a little bit trying to get Tyler [Ammirato] going.”

Matt McNulty charged the Babylon holder after its final score and pulled off the block, which shifted momentum back Miller Place’s way.

“It was just a big moment — I had to pick up my teammates, I just had to do what I could,” the defensive end said. “I was hyped — I wanted that ball back and a chance to make a play and that’s what happened. We knew that the toughest defense was going to win today and making a stop like that in a championship game is what it’s all about.”

Miller Place (10-1) will meet Seaford (9-2) Nov. 24 at noon at Hofstra University’s James M. Shuart Stadium in its first appearance in the Long Island Class IV championship game.

By Bill Landon

A late Long Island-hit drew a penalty, leaving New York City with an even bigger advantage with two seconds left on the clock in the 22nd annual Empire Challenge football game. Monsignor Farrell kicker Paul Inzerillo tried to draw Long Island offsides without success, but just ahead of a delay of game flag, sent the ball flying as the clock ran down to zero, and nailed the 32-yard field goal attempt to snatch a second straight NYC victory, 37-35, from Long Island. The June 21 loss marks the second year in a row Long Island lost in dramatic fashion at Hofstra University’s James M. Shuart Stadium.

“That penalty hurt us,” Elwood John Glenn wide receiver Damien Caffrey said. “But to play in this game is a dream come true.”

“That penalty hurt us, but to play in this game is a dream come true.

—Damian Caffrey

A Long Island interception led to NYC’s first touchdown of the game, with four minutes left in the opening quarter. But Ward Melville senior John Corpac received a pass from Long Island quarterback Aaron Ruthman, of Elmont, and bolted down the right sideline for the touchdown. Christian Carrick added the extra point to tie the game, 7-7.

NYC took the lead with the team’s second touchdown of the game, but the kick failed, and left Long Island with a chance to pull ahead. Ward Melville wide receiver Dominic Pryor, already looking comfortable on his new field, where he will instead though play lacrosse next year, was found twice for big yardage. The first connection was for 18 yards to NYC’s 40-yard line and the second, was for 28 yards to the 5. Two plays later, Farmingdale running back Jordan McLune took advantage of that opportunity by capping of a six-play, 58-yard drive, and Carrick’s kick gave Long Island the lead, 14-13, with 7:14 left in the first half.

Unfortunately, the lead was short-lived as NYC scored another touchdown, put the 2-point conversion play failed.

“It’s tough to come out and play football in June, but I was so motivated to come out here and play with such great athletes, and play my hardest,” Pryor said. “[NYC is] just a hard-nose team with great athletes.”

It looked like a Ward Melville football game from there on out though, as Pryor, who caught give passes for 89 and two touchdowns, scored his first on a 24-yard pass from Elmont quarterback Aaron Rutgman on fourth-and-seven.

Pryor got the call again on the next score, as the Ruthman-Pryor tag-team connected on a 17-yard pass. Carrick’s kick lifted Long Island to a 28-19 advantage.

“[This game] it’s just something that I’m blessed to be in,” Pryor said. “It’s a great event with everything that it stands for, and I’m glad to be a part of it.” Prior to Wednesday’s game, no Patriots had played in the Empire Challenge. With cornerback Eddie Munoz also on the field, it put not two, but three Patriots in the Empire Challenge for the first time.

“[This game] it’s just something that I’m blessed to be in. It’s a great event with everything that it stands for.”

—Dominic Pryor

But New York, held to 17 yards in the second half until midway through the fourth quarter, exploded for a five-play, 75-yard drive that was capped by a 45-yard touchdown from Christian Anderson to Seba Nekhet. The PAT made it 28-26 with seven minutes left in regulation. NYC’s defense forced Long Island to punt from deep in its own end and the city took advantage of the favorable field position to score on Siddiq Muhamad’s 12-yard run that made it 34-26. The special teams completed a 2-point conversion that brought the score to 36-28.

Corpac continued the strong Ward Melville showing as he handled another punt return 83 yards, going coast-to-coast to tie the game.

“I was telling my teammates on the sidelines: ‘I gotta take this one back,’” Corpac said. “’I got to do it.’ And sure enough, I saw the hole and I took it.”

Carrick, who was perfect on the evening, put Long Island ahead with 2:44 left in the final quarter.

NYC threw the ball out of bounds to stop the clock, and got a gift when Long Island was flagged for a late hit. The 15-yard penalty brought NYC to Long Island’s 22-yard line.

“I was scared leading by a point with eight seconds left,” Caffrey said. “It was pretty crazy, because their offense is really good. They brought it to a whole new level.”

Corpac, who is bound for Stony Brook University’s football team in the fall, echoed his longtime teammate-s sentiment of the significance of the Empire Challenge.

“[To play in this game] — it’s a great honor,” he said. “It’s the best way I could ask to end my high school football career.”

By Kevin Redding

A beloved Mount Sinai administrator, whose kindness and compassion have served the district for nearly four decades, is retiring at the end of the year — leaving behind huge shoes to fill.

Mount Sinai Elementary School Principal John Gentilcore dresses up on Election Day in 2008. Photo from John Gentilcore

Every morning for the last 17 years, principal John Gentilcore has stood in front of Mount Sinai Elementary School to greet his students with his warm trademark smile as they hop off the bus.

As part of his daily routine, he also makes a point to put time aside in his administrative schedule to visit classrooms and engage with the kids, oftentimes sitting, legs crisscrossed on the floor with them. When lunchtime rolls around, Gentilcore pulls up a chair and eats with them in the cafeteria, making sure to sit at a different table each day.

“I definitely get more from the kids than they get from me … they’re so genuine,” the principal said, adding that there’s something about the kids that brings a smile to his face.

When Gentilcore became principal in 2000, kindergarten teacher Willow Bellincampi noticed right away just how much the kids loved him.

“Sometimes with the principal, kids are afraid, but when John comes through the door, they’re so happy,” she said. “He’s always around, he gets down to their level, looks them in the eye when talking to them and not a lot of adults do that. ‘I’ll send you to the principal’ is never a threat to them because they love him. He’s compassionate.”

At 60, Gentilcore admitted although it wasn’t an easy decision, retiring at this point in his career will give him more time to spend with family and friends, and travel.

“I definitely get more from the kids than they get from me … they’re so genuine.”

—John Gentilcore

“I’ve been really proud to be part of the Mount Sinai district and I will miss the people, the great faculty, staff, and, first and foremost, I will miss the children,” he said.

Before becoming principal of the elementary school, Gentilcore taught several grade levels and coached girl’s varsity soccer at Friends Academy, a private school in Glen Cove, after graduating from SUNY Oneonta.

As the son of a superintendent — his father — and an elementary school principal, Gentilcore said he received informal education at the dinner table with them.

He was first named principal at the school in 1987, before being named the assistant principal at Mount Sinai Middle School in 1991, and principal in 1995. Ultimately, he landed back at the elementary school in 2000, where he said he “felt at home.” In 2003, he received his doctorate from Hofstra University.

Mount Sinai Elementary School Principal John Gentilcore dresses up in pajamas with students. Photo from John Gentilcore

“There’s something about kids that is very refreshing,” he said. “The elementary school is where their educational journey begins and it’s where we can start a real foundation together. Throughout the day, if a little one needs my assistance, I’ll conference with them. I try to make each day a little bit better than the day before.”

Although reluctant, the school board voted to accept Gentilcore’s August retirement.

“He is the consummate elementary school principal, a gentleman who deeply cares about his students, and we will miss him as a board and a school district,” Board trustee Robert Sweeney said during the Feb. 15 meeting.

Assistant principal Elizabeth Hine considers Gentilcore the best mentor she could ask for.

“I can’t say enough about how wonderful he is as a boss and a principal,” she said. “He taught me how to handle students, parents, everything … he’s just amazing. He enjoys what he does. It’s all about the kids, and he keeps that in the forefront of his mind and that’s how he makes all his decisions. It’s going to be a challenge for a lot of teachers to come in on a daily basis knowing he’s not going to be there.”

Isabella Panag, Kelly Wang, Zekey Huang, Snigdha Roy, and Mount Sinai Middle School Principal Peter Pramataris during the board of education meeting, where certificated were presented to winners and runner-ups of the district-wide spelling bee. Photo by Kevin Redding

By Kevin Redding

Two Mount Sinai students, sixth grader Zekey Huang and fourth grader Carrie Wang, will represent the district in the Long Island Regional Scripps Spelling Bee at Hofstra University next month. The two spelled their way to victory in building-wide competitions held at the middle school and elementary school, which were judged by administrators and members of the English faculty.

Last week, at the district’s board of education meeting at Mount Sinai Middle School, students from both buildings, grades one through eight, who participated in the annual spelling bee in December, were presented with certificates of recognition on behalf of the board.

“As a former athlete and former teacher, I love academic competition and I’m really just so proud of all the participants,” Mount Sinai Middle School Principal Peter Pramataris said. “They participated [in the spelling bee] with class, and the excitement they bring to the building is great.”

Among the four middle school finalists were seventh graders Isabella Panang and Kelly Wang, who tied for third place; seventh grader Snigdha Roy, who, according to the principal, had been in a “fierce, back and forth battle” with Huang during the competition, won second place; and 11-year-old Zekey, who ultimately took first place by spelling “flammable.”

“They participated [in the spelling bee] with class, and the excitement they bring to the building is great.”

— Peter Pramataris

This is the second time Zekey, who said he’s “happy and really excited,” will represent Mount Sinai at Hofstra, having competed after winning the spelling bee as a fourth grader. He and Carrie will be taking a written test Feb. 5 and, assuming they pass, will be competing in the traditional oral portion on the stage of John Cranford Adams Playhouse on Feb 12, with the hopes of making it to the National Scripps Spelling Bee in Washington D.C. during the spring.

“We’re very proud of him,” Zekey’s father, Edward, said. “He has accomplished a lot in the elementary and middle school, and we’re very thankful for the opportunity that the school gave us.”

Speaking about Carrie, Mount Sinai Elementary School Principal John Gentilcore said the fourth grader is poised, beyond her years and is preparing to compete on a daily basis.

“When she stops me in the hallway, she gives me a word to spell, and when I stop her in the hallway, I give her a word to spell,” Gentilcore said in a phone interview. “It’s nice to see her excitement shine through and [we’re] very excited for her.”

The principal said during the spelling bee, the 9-year-old and her fourth grade co-champs quickly made their way through the fourth grade list of words, ending up with words at the eighth grade level in the final round. In terms of reaching the finals in Washington, Gentilcore said he’s knocking on wood.

“Typically,” he said, “one of the older students will win, but anything can happen.”

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A scene from the New York Dance Theatre's 'The Nutcracker.' Photo from Frank Ohman.

New York Dance Theatre, under the direction of former New York City Ballet soloist Frank Ohman, will present its 35th season of “The Nutcracker” at Hofstra University, 1000 Fulton Ave., Hempstead, on Dec. 17 and 18 at noon and 5 p.m. on both days.

With the elegant Christmas party scene, the battle of the toy soldiers and giant mice, the live snow storm and the brilliant dancing in the Land of the Sweets, “The Nutcracker” will appeal to all ages. Special guest artists Alicia Holloway and DaVon Doane of the Dance Theatre of Harlem will appear as the Sugarplum Fairy and her Cavalier. Philip Leclose, who performed the role of the young Prince for two consecutive years at Lincoln Center, will appear in that same role in Ohman’s 2016 production. In all, a cast of 80 children, pre-professional and professional dancers will bring this classic story ballet to life on the stage of Hofstra’s John Cranford Adams Playhouse.

Tickets for this full production ballet are $42 adults, $32 seniors and children 12 and under and may be purchased online at www.ohmanballet.org or by calling 631-462-0964.

Supporters for both candidates are out early on debate day at Hofstra. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

By Victoria Espinoza

A historic political event, which carried what felt like an unprecedented level of uncertainty, took place close to home Sept. 26.

Hofstra University was the place to be, as thousands of reporters, protestors, students and politicians flocked to the Hempstead campus to witness a debate featuring the first female presidential nominee of a major political party in United States history and one of the most powerful businessmen in the world. Hillary Clinton (D) and Donald Trump (R) were the main attraction, but there was so much more to be seen and heard on campus in the hours leading up to show time.

Major news outlets from all over the world covered the event.

The scene was already buzzing around 10 a.m. Businesses set up booths to hand out free debate gear, and MSNBC, Fox News and CNN were already warming up their outdoor stages for a full day of coverage.

Some students carried signs with Clinton and Trump’s name, while others raised humorous, homemade signs with messages like “Mom, please come pick me up, I’m scared.” Freshmen to seniors visited the photo booths and interview stands set up, and seemed enthused and excited to be a part of the historic day.

One of the more popular activities of the day was an inflatable, replica White House for students to jump around in. In the early morning it lit up the parking lot and seemed like a spot students would enjoy a carefree few minutes after the stations focused on national issues were seen.

But soon enough, the inflatable White House became a backdrop for a serious scene.

Dozens of #BlackLivesMatter supporters stood silently arm in arm, in front of the White House. Observers around the area were silent as well.

It was a reminder early on that this debate was not just an exciting event, but also would spur a serious conversation about the state of America, and how it we will be led into the future.

Bernard Coles, a senior at Hofstra, said he wasn’t confident the issues important to #BlackLivesMatter supporters would come up at the debate.

“We’ve been talking nonstop about Brangelina for the past week so I’m not very optimistic about it coming up but I hope so,” he said in an interview. He also said he feels Clinton best represents the #BlackLivesMatter cause.

Black Lives Matter protestors make their presence felt at Hofstra University on debate day. Photo by Victoria Espinoza
Black Lives Matter protestors make their presence felt at Hofstra University on debate day. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

“I feel a thousand times more confident in the direction Hillary Clinton would take the country. She’s been trying to listen to us and support us and represent us for decades and I don’t understand why people are forgetting that.”

Although #BlackLivesMatter was not directly referenced Monday night, moderator Lester Holt asked a question entirely focused on race relations. Both candidates talked about solutions they have proposed to help improve the criminal justice system, while also touching on their personal relationships with ethnic communities.

About a half-mile from the center point of campus was the free speech tent, an area heavily guarded by police where supporters of lesser-known presidential candidates Jill Stein (G) and Gary Jonhson (L) protested their exclusion from the event.

Entrance to the free speech tent required passage through a metal detector and a search of belongings. Officers on horseback lined the street, and at the tent, a man dressed in a polar bear costume spoke out on global warming, and an “election frog” croaked “Rig it, rig it.”

Chris Roy, a Stein supporter, said it was a disgrace that she was not allowed into the debate arena.

“I’m thoroughly disgusted and disturbed and furious,” Roy said in an interview. He questioned why two parties are allowed to make the rules for other minor parties, and said Trump and Clinton should be speaking up to allow the other candidates in.

“She [Stein] is the only one that is in the trenches fighting with the people,” he said. “They’re [Clinton and Trump] both just totally corrupt. They don’t speak out for open debates, which is awful. When you turn on the television all you see is Hillary and Trump.”

Stein has been the presidential nominee for the Green Party for the last two debates, and was escorted off the premises Monday after reportedly failing to present the necessary credentials.

Costumes are used to emphasize political talking points. Photo by Victoria Espinoza
Costumes are used to emphasize political talking points. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

Like Stein, Johnson is not new to the presidential campaign circuit. He has been the Libertarian Party’s presidential candidate for the last two elections.

Both candidates have been vocal about being denied the opportunity to debate.

Neither reached the 15-percent polling threshold on national surveys needed by the Commission on Presidential Debates to qualify.

Hofstra students throughout campus donned “Make America Great Again” hats and “I’m With Her” pins, and at the end of the night everyone argued over which candidate had the most success.

After leaving the scene of the debate, and walking out of what felt like a bunker, it seemed like all issues discussed during the day had been forgotten and all that mattered was Clinton and Trump’s performances.

Hofstra’s campus gave a voice to more than just the typical election season rhetoric, and helped remind a reporter like me that this election season is about so much more than just the two candidates who stood on the stage for 90 minutes.

The highly-anticipated first Presidential Debate of the 2016 election between Hillary Clinton (D) and Donald Trump (R) was at Hofstra University in Hempstead Sept. 26. TBR News Media’s Victoria Espinoza was on campus taking in the events leading up to debate time at 9 p.m. Check out photos and follow @TBRNewspapers and @ByVEspinoza on Twitter for more.

Shanna Brady won two national championships with the University of Maryland

Shanna Brady has been named the new assistant coach at Hofstra University. Photo from Shanna Brady

By Desirée Keegan

A local lacrosse standout with two national championships under her belt is hoping to make a splash on the coaching side of things.

After serving as an assistant coach at Long Island University last year, Shanna Brady has joined the ranks of Hofstra University, serving as assistant coach of the Pride under six-year head coach Shannon Smith.

“Shanna was the perfect candidate,” Smith said. “She brings a lot to the table and is going to help get Hofstra to the next level. She’s very passionate about the game of lacrosse, she loves teaching the student-athletes and she has a wealth of knowledge with her playing career — winning two national championships and being a four-year starter—so that experience she can share with the players, and help develop our defense.”

Shanna Brady competes for the United Women’s Lacrosse League’s Long Island Sound. Photo from Shanna Brady
Shanna Brady competes for the United Women’s Lacrosse League’s Long Island Sound. Photo from Shanna Brady

Brady, a native of Smithtown and graduate of St. Anthony’s High School, graduated from the University of Maryland in 2015. She reached championship weekend all four years of her college career and totaled 75 ground balls, 46 caused turnovers and 20 draw controls during her 92 games played. Brady also served as a coach with the Long Island Express Lacrosse Club from 2011 to 2014, and was a two-year member of Maryland’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee during her undergraduate career.

“I always knew I wanted to be coaching,” Brady said. “Lacrosse is such a huge part of my life and I’ve always wanted to be around a lacrosse atmosphere. Hofstra is an incredible university and they have a group of talented athletes and the potential.”

After graduating, she ran into an assistant coach at LIU Post that was leaving, and was able to land that job.

“She was a great person, very sincere, a true competitor, and she has tremendous knowledge of the sport,” said LIU Post head women’s lacrosse coach Meghan McNamara. “She was excited to coach. That’s what drew me to her.”

While there, Brady was also in charge of recruiting, emails and organizing events.

“She is an awesome, awesome well-known coach and I learned a lot from her in communicating with the girls,” Brady said of McNamara. “I learned a lot other than just growing as a coach on the field.”

McNamara liked what her former assistant brought to the team as well. The Pioneers compiled a 17-4 record and advanced to the NCAA Quarterfinals.

“She brought energy, a lot of knowledge on the defensive side and confidence to the team. She could relate to the girls, being closer in age,” she said. “She was a good balance for the team. I’m so excited for her and very proud of her. It’s her passion.”

Smith said she believes Brady will bring those same smarts and winning mentality to her team.

Shanna Brady coaching on the sideline at Long Island University. Photo from LIU Post
Shanna Brady coaching on the sideline at Long Island University. Photo from LIU Post

“She’s great with talking to the student-athletes, in the recruiting aspect she knows a lot of people on Long Island and she’s very confident. She’s well spoken, and I’m just excited for her next step at Hofstra,” she said. “She was a phenomenal player in college. She knows what it takes to win.”

Brady said what makes her and Smith’s connection unique, is that she looked up to Smith as a player, watching her and even playing against her in her freshman year, when Smith was still playing for Northwestern University. Now, Smith coaches Brady — who is currently playing professionally for the Long Island Sound of the United Women’s Lacrosse League.

“We really hit it off, we have similar personalities and we’re kind of cut from the same cloth,” Smith said. “Our philosophies get along with one another. Shanna brings a lot of fundamental skills. She is going to be able to adjust to what we need, whether it be something different in a season or specifically in one game, she’s quick on her feet, she’s hardworking.”

Brady is looking forward to the next step in her coaching career as well, having already had the opportunity to get to know her new team and staff, being in and out of the Hofstra office.

“[Shannon Smith] is an incredible person and a talented coach, and I’m excited to be given the opportunity to coach with her and to learn as much as I can about the game and being successful,” Brady said. “Coming from my background, you have that will and that drive that you always want to be at the top. This is an exciting opportunity because we want to get to that next level as a program.”

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The Smithtown West girls’ lacrosse team took a group photo after beating Northport for the first time in school history. Photo from Carrie Bodo

By Desirée Keegan

On her wall in her office, Smithtown West girls’ lacrosse coach Carrie Bodo has an old photo of one of her Hofstra University teams posing for a group photo, with her lying on the turf field.

Her girls asked her several times about the significance of it. Bodo said her Pride team had never beaten the University of Delaware, and that photo was taken after the first time the team had done it. She has wanted to replace that photo for a long time now. Her Bulls team had also never beaten Northport, so she told the girls that if they did this season, she’d swap out one winning photo for another.

The Bulls made a goal, and achieved it, outscoring Northport 11-7 on April 29, and Bodo took a photo lying down on the turf field with the girls behind her. The girls also had a goal to win the school’s first ever Suffolk County title. Although the team fell one goal shy, dropping the county title game to West Islip, 9-8, in the school’s first appearance in the finals, the team had a postseason success that made all the hard work of a 15-2 season all the more worth it.

Members of the Smithtown West girls' lacrosse team rally around head coach Carrie Bodo after she earned the Suffolk County Coach of the Year award. Photo from Smithtown school district
Members of the Smithtown West girls’ lacrosse team rally around head coach Carrie Bodo after she earned the Suffolk County Coach of the Year award. Photo from Smithtown school district

The Suffolk County Girls Lacrosse Coaches Association named Bodo the Suffolk County Division I Coach of the Year. She was also named Smithtown Central School District’s Coach of the Year. Although earning the recognition, she was more excited for her team than herself.

“They wanted it for me more than anything,” she said. “For me, anything I get is truly because of them. It was nice because they were so excited for it.”

Before coming to Smithtown in 2006, Bodo was the head women’s lacrosse coach at Hofstra University for 14 years, and was also the field hockey coach for almost half of her time there. She had played lacrosse since she was in seventh grade, and even played for Hofstra, before becoming a graduate assistant on the team and taking over the helm when she was just 24 years old. When the time came to choose which sport would be her focus, the decision was easy.

“The sport is such a part of me,” she said. “The big joke is I’ve never had a spring break since seventh grade. It goes to show how much I love it. I love everything about the game. I love playing it, I love watching the girls, and being with the girls, seeing them achieve, seeing them go to college.”

Although leaving the sport briefly when she had children — two boys — she began teaching and was soon asked to take over the West team when the school split. Her athletes are happy she agreed to take over the program.

“When it comes to the game, she is smart and always gives us so much motivation to win. One thing that I love most about her is that she loves to have fun and she has a big heart. Even when we lost, she would tell us to keep our heads up and always have a positive outlook.”

— Kayla Kosubinsky

“I have to say I’ve never had such a good relationship with one of my coaches, both on and off the field,” said Kayla Kosubinsky, who has played under Bodo since eighth grade, but knew her from back when she would attend the booster club camp that her coach runs every year. “Bodo has impacted Smithtown lacrosse just like she did when she coached Hofstra. When it comes to the game, she is smart and always gives us so much motivation to win. One thing that I love most about her is that she loves to have fun and she has a big heart. Even when we lost, she would tell us to keep our heads up and always have a positive outlook.”

This sort of parent-daughter relationship she’s created with her girls is crucial to Bodo and her players, and is an integral part in the team’s success.

“We have this joke that I’m their mom,” Bodo said, laughing. “They always call me mom, and I call them my family. I love that part of it more. Just hearing about their boyfriends, and the prom and that kind of stuff. It’s that girl atmosphere I don’t get in my personal life. That’s what makes us closer as a group.”

Although it took some years to get the Bulls to the level they’re at now after the school split, nine of the 12 starters from last year’s squad committed to play lacrosse. The younger kids in the area are seeing the older ones’ success, and want to emulate that, something Bodo hears at camp over the summer.

For players like senior Mackenzie Heldberg, who committed to play at Johns Hopkins University, leaving a coach like Bodo is bittersweet, but she will always be appreciative of what her longtime coach has done for her.

“I couldn’t ask for a better coach — she has taught me so much about not only lacrosse, but life, and has helped me develop into the player I am today,” said Heldberg, who played for Bodo for five years, but knew her for eight because her older sister also played for the Bulls. “As our coach, she always pushed us to our fullest potential and I dedicate our success this year to her, for she was the glue to our team. Having Bodo get this recognition is so heartwarming and amazing because she deserves it. This team has improved tremendously since I’ve been a part of it and the common denominator of it all is Bodo. She led us with pride and fearlessness to a county game and I couldn’t be happier I’ve gotten to play under someone as amazing as her.”

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The Newfield football team poses for a group photo after defeated MacArthur, 41-33, for the Long Island Class II title on Nov. 27 at Hofstra University. Photo by Joe Galotti
Newfield’s Elijah Riley, Joe Saladino, Nick Favaloro, Steven Hoynacky and Isaiah Israel pose with the Long Island Class II football championship trophy after defeating MacArthur, 41-33, on Nov. 27 at Hofstra University. Photo by Newfield High School Video Club
Newfield’s Elijah Riley, Joe Saladino, Nick Favaloro, Steven Hoynacky and Isaiah Israel pose with the Long Island Class II football championship trophy after defeating MacArthur, 41-33, on Nov. 27 at Hofstra University. Photo by the Newfield High School Video Club

By Joe Galotti

Newfield has not faced much adversity this fall. The team entered this year’s Long Island Class II football championship game with an 11-0 record, and had yet to be truly challenged on their quest for a perfect season.

On Friday night at Hofstra University’s Shuart Stadium, the Wolverines were finally tested.

After holding a 20-point advantage over MacArthur at halftime, Newfield quickly saw its lead evaporate to just a single point before the end of the third quarter. But Wolverines senior wideout Elijah Riley refused to let his team lose on this night, running for two touchdowns in the contest’s final quarter to power his team to a 41-33 victory.

“Eli’s been our lightning guy all year,” Wolverines head coach Joe Piccininni said. “He just comes out and makes things happen for us when you least expect it.”

Thanks to Riley’s heroics, Newfield earned its first Long Island Championship since 2011. Senior quarterback Ryan Klemm was excited that the team was able to not only bring the title back to their school, but also record the program’s first ever perfect season.

“It’s awesome,” Klemm said. “They always refer to the 2011 team, and we wanted to do something better — something that they didn’t do. So 12-0 was definitely the goal.”

The Wolverines got off to a quiet on the gridiron, as MacArthur held Newfield’s explosive offense scoreless in the game’s opening 12 minutes. Senior halfback Vin Martino gave the Generals an early 7-0 lead, with a nine-yard touchdown run.

In the second quarter, the Wolverines began to take over.

Newfield’s players stand behind a banner that reads "Let’s Make H15tory" which the Wolverines did, with a 41-33 win over MacArthur for the Class II Long Island championship title and the first undefeated season in program history on Nov. 27 at Hofstra University. Photo by Joe Galotti
Newfield’s players stand behind a banner that reads “Let’s Make H15tory” which the Wolverines did, with a 41-33 win over MacArthur for the Class II Long Island championship title and the first undefeated season in program history on Nov. 27 at Hofstra University. Photo by Joe Galotti

First, Riley got his team on the board with a six-yard touchdown run. Then Klemm left his mark on the championship game, connecting on touchdown passes with senior wide receiver Jelani Greene, senior running back Denzel Williams and senior tight end Austin Gubelman before halftime.

Up 27-7 entering the third, Newfield seemed to have their Class II title wrapped up. But, the Generals were prepared to go down fighting, beginning the second half by recovering an onside kick. Shortly after, Martino found the end zone to make it a 13-point game. MacArthur attempted another onside kick, and once again gained possession. Martino followed that up with his second touchdown in a span of just 34 seconds.

Later in the quarter, MacArthur senior quarterback Jimmy Kelleher threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to senior wideout Jared Wolfe. The ensuing extra-point attempt was missed, but the Wolverines’ lead fell to just 27-26.

“We knew it wasn’t going to be easy,” Klemm said. “They’re a great team, and we knew we’d have to face adversity eventually, and it came tonight.”

Riley added, “Nobody gets flustered. Everyone knows they have another chance to get the job done and do what they have to do to finish their assignment.”

Nick Adler hugs his new fiancée on the field after proposing following Newfield's 41-33 win over MacArthur for the Wolverine's Long Island Class II championship title. Photo by Joe Galotti
Nick Adler hugs his new fiancée on the field after proposing following Newfield’s 41-33 win over MacArthur for the Wolverine’s Long Island Class II championship title. Photo by Joe Galotti

In the fourth quarter, Riley was able to right the ship for his team. He first provided an eight-yard touchdown run. Then, with 2:49 remaining in regulation, scored on a 30-yard rush, to extend Newfield’s lead to 15 points.

MacArthur added a late touchdown, but failed to pull any closer, as Riley recovered the Generals final onside kick attempt and took a knee just shy of another touchdown, despite any player being within 15 yards of the senior.

“MacArthur did an outstanding job of preparing for us and playing against us,” Piccininni said, “They left their hearts out on the field. They really pushed us to our limits today, but our kids overcame it.”

Also leaving his heart out on the field after the game was Wolverines assistant coach Nick Adler. He proposed to his girlfriend after the team was presented with their championship trophy. And when she said yes, the Wolverines were left with a storybook ending to their perfect season.