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Lacrosse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The half ended with the Wildcats down 7-2.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Middle Country’s Zach Harned puts on the breaks as he looks for an opening in front of East Islip’s net, in the Mad Dogs’ 8-5 win over the Redmen Saturday. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

The Middle Country boys’ lacrosse team scored four quick goals in less than three minutes and continued to fire off shots and find the back of the cage to claim an 8-5 victory over East Islip, Saturday.

Less than a minute into the game, junior midfielder Kyle Stemke scored first for the Mad Dogs, and senior midfielder Brandon Thomas followed with a goal of his own a minute later to jump out to a 2-0 lead.

Middle Country’s bobby Emerson cuts around East Islip defenders as he makes his way up the field in the Mad Dogs’ 8-5 win over East Islip Saturday. Photo by Bill Landon
Middle Country’s bobby Emerson cuts around East Islip defenders as he makes his way up the field in the Mad Dogs’ 8-5 win over East Islip Saturday. Photo by Bill Landon

“We played a solid team with a solid defense today who have a lot of offensive power,” Stemke said, as his team made eight of its 21 attempts at a goal. “We made some goals when we had to and we were able to shut them down defensively at the end.”

Middle Country head coach Kenneth Budd said his team has struggled at the faceoff position lately, but that wasn’t the case for the Mad Dogs in this matchup.

Junior midfielder Declan Canevari won his third possession of the game and dished the ball to senior attack Bobby Emerson, and Canevari followed with his fourth faceoff win, and took the ball down the right sideline, cut to the inside and buried his shot between the pipes to give Middle Country a four-goal advantage.

Budd said his faceoff specialist was the difference-maker in the contest.

“Declan was phenomenal at the ‘X’ today,” Budd said. “When you control ‘X’ you get possession, and that’s how you win games.”

Middle Country senior attack Zach Harned assisted in his team’s first goal of the second quarter when he fed the ball to junior midfielder Cole Demaille, who found the back of the cage. Stemke crossed the ball over to Emerson next, who sent home his second goal of the game to take a commanding 6-0 lead.

“We knew their goalie was good, but we came out firing and we were really amped when we went up 6-0,” Harned said. “We came out clean, we maintained possession and we played hard.”

East Islip wouldn’t go quietly though, and rattled off three unanswered goals in less than three minutes late in the half, to keep Middle Country’s defense on its toes.

Harned halted the Redmen’s scoring spree, and blasted a shot to the back of the cage to bring the halftime score to 7-3.

Middle Country’s Kyle Stemke races downfield and winds up to fire a shot at the cage in the Mad Dogs’ 8-5 nonleague victory over East Islip Saturday. Photo by Bill Landon
Middle Country’s Kyle Stemke races downfield and winds up to fire a shot at the cage in the Mad Dogs’ 8-5 nonleague victory over East Islip Saturday. Photo by Bill Landon

East Islip found the cage late in the third to trim the deficit to three, and Middle Country failed to find the cage until halfway through the final quarter when Stemke moved down the right sideline, crossed to midfield and scored his second goal of the game to double East Islip’s score to lead 8-4.

East Islip tallied one more goal with three minutes left to play, and despite Middle Country being a man down off a penalty with 2:45 left to play, the Mad Dogs defense stood its ground.

“We stepped it up on offense and then our goalie made a big defensive stop at the end of the game,” Emerson saidå.

With the nonleague win, Middle Country ended its five-game losing streak and improved to 3-5 overall, while maintaining a 2-4 League I record.

The Mad Dogs will host Lindenhurst next, on Wednesday, at 7 p.m., where the team looks to continue its success to move up in the league ranking.

“The key to the game was us getting out to a 4-0 lead in the first quarter,” Canevari said. “Even though they came back, we gave ourselves a sizable margin that we could work with. I just focused on getting possession at the X; we haven’t been doing that lately — to get possession, get the ball to our attacker’s sticks to win the game.”

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Smithtown West’s Jimmy Caddigan makes a diving shot outside the crease in the Bulls’ 17-0 win over Deer Park. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

After a sluggish first quarter, the Smithtown West boys’ lacrosse team shook off the cobwebs and went on a scoring frenzy, shutting out Deer Park 17-0 on their home turf, to keep the Bulls atop the League II leaderboard at 6-0.

Scoring two goals in the first quarter, Smithtown West junior midfielder Dan Caroussos was on fire for his team, and scored his hat trick goal off an assist from junior attack Joe Zara with 7:14 left to play in the first half, to bring the sore to 5-0.

From there, it was a Bulls scoring clinic.

Smithtown West’s Danny Caroussos receives a pass in traffic. Photo by  Bill Landon
Smithtown West’s Danny Caroussos receives a pass in traffic. Photo by Bill Landon

Freshman attack Kyle Zawadzki banked two goals, and Zara, sophomore midfielder Danny Riley and senior attack R.J. Ehli tacked on a goal apiece to end the second quarter leading 9-0.

Smithtown West head coach Bob Moltisanti said his team lacked focus when opportunity came knocking in the first quarter.

“We had our chances to score, but a dropped pass or a feed that was a little bit off or deflected by a stick and then we missed the cage,” he said. “We did a much better job in the second quarter. The kids did a nice job — they’re aggressive and they’re playing fundamentally sound defense.”

Caroussos was absent in the second half, after playing the first with a heavy heart. Just a day before he was to celebrate his birthday, he instead suffered the passing of his grandfather. He left the game at halftime to attend the wake.

Just seconds into the third quarter, Zawadzki found the cage to join Caroussos with a hat trick, to edge ahead 10-0.

The freshman attack continued to pick up where Caroussos left off, and found the cage a fourth and fifth time, to close out the third quarter leading by a score of 15-0.

From there, Moltisanti rotated his bench players to give the non-starters some playing time.

Junior midfielder Danny Varello owned the faceoff, winning almost all attempts at the “X,” which put the Deer Park defense to work.

“Danny’s faceoff performance has been tremendous this season,” Moltisanti said.
Zawadzki added that early in the game his team made mistakes, but made the proper adjustment to come away with the dominant win.

Smithtown West’s R.J. Ehli cuts outside past a Deer Park defender, maintains possession and heads toward the cage in the Bulls’ 17-0 win Tuesday. Photo by  Bill Landon
Smithtown West’s R.J. Ehli cuts outside past a Deer Park defender, maintains possession and heads toward the cage in the Bulls’ 17-0 win Tuesday. Photo by Bill Landon

“We telegraphed our passes early in the game, but we got better reads and better feeds.” Zawadzki said. “Coach told us after the first quarter that we’d better pick it up because we’re not looking good.”

The Bulls held the ball for most of the fourth, and scored two goals while running out the clock, to bring the final score to 17-0.

According to Varello, teams like Deer Park, who have yet to find their first win, are always teams to be wary of.

“They may not be on the leaderboard, but they’ve got athletes and you’ve got to expect a team like that is going to hit you,” Varello said. “So against a team as athletic as they are, I know I’m going in with the mind-set that I can’t miss any faceoffs because if I do, we’re going to lose it.”

Moltisanti said his Bulls’ real test will be on Thursday, when they square off against Half Hollow Hills East on the road for a battle of two undefeated teams.

The opening faceoff is scheduled for 5 p.m.

Smithtown West is atop the leaderboard with crosstown rivals Smithtown East at 6-0, while Half Hollow Hills East and West Islip are also undefeated at 5-0 and 4-0, respectively.

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The proposed budget for 2015-16 includes funds for a new elevator at the high school. File photo by Elana Glowatz

Now it’s up to the voters.

Port Jefferson school board members adopted a 2015-16 budget on Tuesday night that would raise the tax rate 1.62 percent, matching the state-imposed cap on how much it can increase.

The $42.4 million budget proposal has not changed much since it was first presented to the community earlier this year. It would increase staffing levels — bringing in additional teachers for English as a second language, a groundskeeper and teaching assistants — and put $1.25 million toward constructing a new elevator at the district high school.

The elevator project is so costly because in order to build a lift that is up to code, the district will have to construct a wider elevator shaft as well as new lobbies on each floor.

Another driver of the budget increase is funding to have an ambulance present at Port Jefferson lacrosse and football games, a safety measure proposed in response to the death of a Shoreham-Wading River High School student-athlete following a football game against John Glenn High School in the fall.

But it won’t be all increases — the school district is expecting to see a 4 percent decrease in state teachers’ retirement system contributions next year.

Although the tax levy would only go up 1.62 percent, the budget-to-budget increase would top 5 percent, due to staffing and capital costs. However, Assistant Superintendent for Business Sean Leister explained during a budget presentation on Tuesday, the district would draw $1.3 million from its debt service fund to offset the increase. That fund contains leftover monies from completed bond projects.

If voters approve the budget in May, the tax rate would increase to $144.67 for every $100 of assessed value on a property.

Also on the ballot will be a proposition to create a new capital reserve fund aimed at replacing roofs at the three schools. Leister said the district would put surplus dollars leftover at the end of each school year into the new capital reserve fund to support roof replacements, which would be staggered so that those new roofs don’t eventually have to be replaced all at once.

According to Leister’s presentation, the district would need a community vote to use money from the fund, once it is established.

The district will hold a budget hearing on May 12 in the high school auditorium.

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.”

Nikki Ortega grabs the ball off the draw and crosses into Ward Melville’s zone. Photo by Desirée Keegan

These Mad Dogs are showing their teeth.

In a dogfight between two of the top teams in Division I Monday, visiting Ward Melville dominated the beginning of the first half, edging ahead to a 4-1 lead, but the Middle Country girls’ lacrosse team found its groove and bounced back to prove why it’s undefeated.

With the 17-12 comeback win, the Mad Dogs improved to 6-0 to remain in sole possession of first place, while the Patriots dropped to 4-2.

“We have a big week ahead of us so to get one out of the way is a good feeling,” Middle Country head coach Lindsay Dolson said. “We kept our calm. We knew that we could score. We had a bunch of pipes in the first couple of minutes so that took a little wind out of our sails, but they did a great job coming back.”

Amanda Masullo races toward the cage for Middle Country. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Amanda Masullo races toward the cage for Middle Country. Photo by Desirée Keegan

After Ward Melville jumped out to a 3-0 lead, Middle Country senior midfielder and attack Nikki Ortega scored off a foul for the team’s first point with 15:21 left in the first half.

The Patriots tacked on another goal before Ortega’s younger sister, Jamie, a sophomore midfielder, netted back-to-back goals to pull within one, 4-3.

“We knew that we were down, but we always tell each other not to freak out; to talk to each other,” Jamie Ortega said. “I was frustrated because I knew we were the better team, so us down got me motivated.”

The teams traded goals, and after being down 5-4, Middle Country tied it up 5-5 with 4:39 left until the halftime break.

With the offensive sides strong on both ends of the field, the two teams traded another goal apiece to bring the score to 6-6 at the end of the first, and continued to trade goals until the game was tied 9-9.
From there, the Mad Dogs raced ahead to a 14-9 lead before Ward Melville senior attack Alex Vignona scored from 10 yards out, and followed her showing with an assist, as she passed the ball to sophomore attack Kaitlin Thornton who scored overhead in front of the net to close the gap to 14-11.

Jamie Ortega netted one next, taking the ball all the way up the field and, from the right side, crossing the ball in front of the net and into the left corner with 4:08 remaining in the game. Middle Country scored again, and Ward Melville sophomore midfielder Madison Hobbes scored her team’s final point before Nikki Ortega passed the ball to eighth-grade defender Sophie Alois off a shooting space foul with 16 seconds on the clock, for the final goal of the game.

Jamie Ortega maintains possession of the ball with a Ward Melville defender on her back. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Jamie Ortega maintains possession of the ball with a Ward Melville defender on her back. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“We knew this was our time, this was our game and we had to step it up, and that’s what we did,” Middle Country junior defender Jordynn Aiello said. “I knew stepping on this field today we were going to come out with this win no matter what. One thing I love about my team is that we stay calm under pressure; we don’t break.”

While the team ran into trouble winning possession off the draw and the defense struggled with the slides, defenders, like Aiello, forced some crucial turnovers.

Vignona, Nemirov, Thornton, Hobbes and junior attack Holly Regan scored two goals apiece for the Patriots, while sophomore midfielder Hannah Hobbes and senior midfielder Cat Smith rounded out the scoring with a goal each.

“I never thought we’d get this far and I knew that they were going to give us a hard game,” Jamie Ortega said of Ward Melville. “I knew that if we came back and played how we usually play we’d end up on top.”

The sophomore midfielder led the Mad Dogs with six goals while her older sister Nikki finished with four.  Sophomore midfielder Amanda Masullo tacked on three goals, while her twin sister Rachel, Alois, senior midfielder Allison DiPaola and sophomore attack Ava Barry added a goal apiece.

“She did a great job,” Dolson said of Jamie Ortega. “I spoke to her before the game and I said ‘Jamie, I feel it. You’re going to have a day today.’ And she did.”

Ortega said her team works well to pass each other the ball and stay connected, and Aiello said Middle Country’s ability to work together should take them far.

“There are no individuals on this field, it’s a team, and everybody has a job on this team and we get it done,” she said.  “I have a lot of faith in my team, I believe in us and I believe that if we continue to work on enhancing and perfecting our game, we’ll be unstoppable.”

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Rocky Point junior midfielder Tim Yannucci grabs possession of the ball in the Eagles’ 10-9 overtime loss to Elwood-John Glenn Thursday. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Despite leading 3-0 early and 8-5 at halftime, the Rocky Point boys’ lacrosse team let Elwood-John Glenn battle back to tie the game at 9-9 and force a four-minute overtime period, where the Knights managed to sneak one in past the Eagles to win 10-9.

Rocky Point senior attack Brendan Cain fires a shot at the cage during the Eagles’ 10-9 overtime loss to Elwood-John Glenn Thursday. Photo by Bill Landon
Rocky Point senior attack Brendan Cain fires a shot at the cage during the Eagles’ 10-9 overtime loss to Elwood-John Glenn Thursday. Photo by Bill Landon

Rocky Point hit the scoreboard first when junior midfielder Tim Yannucci’s shot found the cage off an assist by senior midfielder Alex Borja, and on Rocky Point’s next possession, Borja drove one home from 20 yards out unassisted, to jump out to a 2-0 lead.

With the game just over three minutes old, Rocky Point senior attack Brendan Cain fed a cross to freshman attack Jake Wandle, who fired between the pipes to break out to a 3-0 advantage.

The Knights responded with four unanswered goals to take their first lead of the game with 5:46 left in the half, but the Eagles didn’t let that lead last for long and swooped into the Knights’ territory with just over four minutes left in the half score two goals to tie, and then take the lead.

First, Rocky Point senior attack Christopher Vaden dished one to Yannucci. and senior midfielder Jack Sullivan served one to Wandle, who drove his shot home to retake the lead, 5-4.

“We came out hot, we went up 3-0 and then they started coming back — we got to half time up by three,” Yannucci said. “We just didn’t come out as good as they did and they ended up with the win.”

A minute later, John Glenn shot back to tie the game 5-5, but Wandle and Cain paired up again, this time, with Wandle feeding to Cain, who buried his shot to retake the lead, 6-5.

Rocky Point senior midfielder Jack Sullivan levels a Knights player to try to force a turnover in the Eagles’ 10-9 overtime loss to Elwood-John Glen Thursday. Photo by Bill Landon
Rocky Point senior midfielder Jack Sullivan levels a Knights player to try to force a turnover in the Eagles’ 10-9 overtime loss to Elwood-John Glen Thursday. Photo by Bill Landon

With 21 seconds left before the halftime break, the Eagles scored twice more.

Cain flipped one out to junior midfielder Anthony DeVito, and five seconds later, Borja’s shot found its mark off another assist by Cain, to take an 8-5 lead into the third quarter.

“We led 8-5 at the half, but we let them right back in,” Rocky Point head coach Mike Bowler said. “Mistake after mistake — little things and not converting when we should’ve converted [hurt us].”

John Glenn wouldn’t go quietly, and found the scoreboard twice in the third to trail 8-7 to begin the final quarter. Momentum continued to shift the Knights’ way with two more unanswered goals, and the team took a 9-8 lead with just over six minutes left.

Vaden said his team wasn’t expecting a zone defense and added a penalty at the end of regulation hurt his Eagles.

“We moved the ball well from behind with Jake Wandle quarterbacking,” he said. “And eventually we slipped up and let it get away from us.”

Rocky Point freshman attack Jake Wandle eludes an Elwood-John Glenn defenseman in the Eagles’ 10-9 overtime loss to Elwood-John Glenn Thursday. Photo by Bill Landon
Rocky Point freshman attack Jake Wandle eludes an Elwood-John Glenn defenseman in the Eagles’ 10-9 overtime loss to Elwood-John Glenn Thursday. Photo by Bill Landon

From behind the cage, Cain looking for the cutter, jumped out front like he was going to pass, but spun around and air gaited the ball — jumping from behind the goal crease and scoring mid-air by dunking the ball over the crossbar — just inside the pipe.

“They came in a lot hotter and they came ready to play in that second half,” Cain said. “We went on a run, but then they took their run on us and tied the game, so they outplayed us in the second half.”

Rocky Point was penalized in the final seconds of regulation and started the first minute of the four-minute overtime period a man down. The Eagles survived the penalty, but the Knights ended up the victors after scoring a goal with 1:04 left to play.

With the loss, Rocky Point dropped to 2-3, the middle of the League III standings. The Eagles will look to break a three-game losing streak when they travel to Westhampton Beach Wednesday. The opening faceoff is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.

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

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

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

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

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

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

MacGregor wasn’t kidding.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the boys synchronized their watches for a win.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kennedy sees signs of good things to come.

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

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