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Panthers

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Bayport-Blue Point’s field hockey team struck first in a Division II matchup Sept. 17, but it was Miller Place senior Ally Schreck who answered the call to tie the game midway through the opening. Alexa Corbin, a junior, scored the go-ahead goal for Miller Place 13 minutes into the second  half as the Panthers held on for a 2-1 victory at home. Goalie Meaghan Stoessel had seven saves on the day. 

The Panthers are back in action when they hit the road to take on Sayville Sept. 19. Game time is set for. 4 p.m.

The win lifts Miller Place to 2-1 in the division, 4-1 overall.

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By Bill Landon

Miller Place’s softball team was down in runs for most of the game at Shoreham-Wading River Wildcats April 22, but the team rallied in the top of the seventh,scoring four unanswered runs to tie the game against SWR at 11-11 to force extra innings. 

It was Wildcats freshman Lindsay Cahill’s bat that decided the game in the bottom of the ninth, driving home senior Katlynn McGivney to win the game, 12-11, in a League V matchup against their crosstown rival.

Sophomore pitcher Genna Baudo was credited with the win as the Wildcats improve to 3-6 in league. The loss drops the Panthers to 6-3 with seven games left to play before the postseason. The Wildcats will need to win four games out of their remaining schedule to extend their season.

The crosstown rivals will take on two of the South Fork teams April 25, with visiting Miller Place taking the field against East Hampton for a 10 a.m. start. The Wildcats will host Westhampton with first pitch also at 10 a.m.

 

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Miller Place senior co-captain Sebastian Cannon drives against a WHB defender March 16. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Miller Place’s boys lacrosse team tried to shake off the early season cobwebs but had their hands full when the Westhampton Hurricanes blew into town for a non-league matchup where the Panthers fell 17-4 at home March 16. 

The goals for Miller Place were few and far between but sophomore Nicholas Belvedere scored one goal along with two assists, freshman Aiden Schook stretched the net twice and senior co-captain Sebastian Cannon split the pipes to round out the scoring. Freshman goalkeeper Kenny Leen recorded 10 saves.

The Panthers were back in action March 19 where they faced Babylon on the road in another non-league contest before league play gets under way today, March 21, at home against Hauppauge. First faceoff for both games are 5 p.m. and 4 p.m. respectively.

Clockwise from top left, Cannon drives against a WHB defender; Leen with one of his 10 saves; sophomore Matthew LoNigro gets checked; freshman midfielder Anthony Bartalotto gets checked by two WHB players; Cannon drives against a WHB defender; Belvedere passes over the middle; Bartalotto turns the corner.

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Miller Place wrestling team after its win Feb. 2. Photo from Matt Kaszubski

The Miller Place Panthers wrestling team were at it again, cinching a League VI dual meet tournament Feb. 2 at Sayville High School for their third league win in four years.

Junior Alex Constantis. Photo from Matt Kaszubski

“We knew going into the league tournament the kids had a strong game,” head coach Matt Kaszubski said. “Even though our team was very young, we had been working for 12 months, and everyone put in effort.”

During the 2018-19 wrestling season Miller Place has gone 5-1 in league, only being beat by Rocky Point in a Dec. 12 matchup. The Eagles are currently at six wins and no losses in their league standings. Going into the tournament, the Miller Place wrestling coach knew Rocky Point would be a tough nut to crack. 

The Panthers got their revenge over the weekend as they scored a total of 253.5 points by the end of the tournament, barely edging out the Eagles at 241. Both teams scored 70 points or more than Islip, which placed third at a total of 171 points.

“It was amazing to watch, as Rocky Point is one of the best in the county,” Kaszubski said.

Miller Place suffered a few injuries on their road to the league tournament, including senior James Rado, who had knee surgery in December and was only cleared to wrestle a week before the tournament. 

The tournament brought forward eight Miller Place finalists and two champions. Juniors Alex Constantis and Kyle Klein Jr. both took home the league champion title. 

Junior Kyle Klein Jr. Photo from Matt Kaszubski

Klein, in particular, celebrated his 100th career victory in January. The junior also showed his skill during the league tournament when he scored a reversal in the final seconds in his match against Sayville which he won 6-5. 

With this victory, Miller Place is qualified to send 15 wrestlers to the Suffolk D1 Championships at Suffolk Community College Brentwood Feb. 9-10. Kaszubski said those young men on the team are already at peak performance, and all they have to do now is mentally prepare.

“There’s not much training left to do — their cardio is great, and they are just a strong, technical team,” the wrestling coach said. “If everybody wrestles to their best, we could have some top wrestlers in the county.” 

Miller Place traveled to Warrior nation and outscored Comsewogue, 72-52, in a nonleague matchup Dec. 10.

Miller Place junior Thomas Cirrito led his team in scoring with eight field goals, eight free throws and two triples for 30 points; Thomas Nealis, the lone senior on the squad, banked 16 along with 14 rebounds; and junior Timothy Hirdt netted 12, rebounding 12.

Atop the scoring chart for Comsewogue were Mike McGuire and Liam Gray with 13 points apiece. Both teams opened league play Dec. 12 where the Panthers hosted Wyandanch and Comsewogue took on visiting Centereach, but results were not available by press time.

Miller Place seniors walked across the high school track with pride as the band played during the 2018 commencement ceremony June 22.

Superintendent Marianne Cartisano addressed the crowd along with valedictorian Nicole Cirrito and salutatorian Victoria Calandrino. Students and parents celebrated the class of 2018’s achievements and proudly displayed decorated caps that boasted phrases like “there’s nothing holding me back” and a field goal post to represent the steps taken toward reaching the next level of academic and athletic achievement.

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Miller Place sophomore Lauren Mancini carries the ball downfield with a Mount Sinai defender on her back during a scrimmage. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Miller Place boasts a mix of youth and experience in its girls lacrosse team this season, including nine eighth-graders, many   of which were on the Panthers playoff team last year.

Miller Place sophomore Madison Murphy gains possession off the draw. Photo by Bill Landon

The team finished its 2017 campaign with a 7-6 record, making the playoffs but falling to rival Shoreham-Wading River in the opening round. The girls scrimmaged Syosset before going toe-to-toe March 17 with New York State champion Mount Sinai, scoring several goals against their formidable neighbors.

Being a young team, boasting just four seniors with sophomores, freshmen and the nine eighth-graders making up the rest of the roster, Miller Place head coach Thomas Carro is under no illusion as to what’s in store for his squad this season.

“We’re going to have some growing pains in the beginning,” he said. “They’re going to make mistakes. We turned the ball over like 11 times in that last scrimmage [against Syosset], so we’ve got to limit those — and we will.”

Carro said five-year senior goalkeeper Hailey Duchnowski, along with returning defenders, should keep the Panthers in games.

“I think we have one of the best goalies we’ve ever had,” Carro said of Duchnowski, also pointing to junior defender Ava Burns and sophomore midfielder Madison Murphy, who he said is “going to have a good year.” “If those girls play hard, that stuff becomes contagious and the younger group will follow them.”

Miller Place freshman Alexa Corbin moves the ball through midfield in a scrimmage against Mount Sinai. Photo by Bill Landon

Duchnowski pointed to areas of promise and areas of concern she has with her unit up to this point in practice.

“We are doing really well at moving the ball fast on offense, coming together on defense, working hard,” she said. “But we’ll have to get better in transition.”

Murphy’s assessment of her team’s progress so far she said belies its age, but also noticed moments of weakness.

“We have a bunch of athletes,” she said. “We need to play together as a team, and if we do that it’ll all come together. We’ll need a lot of communication on the defensive end as well as on offense, and if we can do that fluently we can win.”

Senior Nicole Beck will also provide the Panthers with the leadership they need, and said, like her coach always does, Miller Place doesn’t rebuild, it reloads.

Miller Place junior Ava Burns battles for a ground ball against Mount Sinai. Photo by Bill Landon

“We lost a great amount of talent last year, but so far we’re still able to put up the numbers offensively,” Beck said. “It’s been impressive — we didn’t think we’d be able to do that — we have a lot of young girls who are playing really well.”

Murphy said her team’s preparation for the league opener at home against last year’s nemesis won’t have anything to do with the athleticism of the team, but with the mental preparedness. Miller Place will host Shoreham-Wading River March 28 at 4 p.m.

“If we go into that game with a positive mindset, work as hard as we can, I think there could be a positive outcome,” she said.

Carro said his team competes with some of the sport’s top Long Island talents, and said finding a way to neutralize high-caliber opponent’s threats will be key to competing with the cream of the crop.

“Shoreham lost a lot [of talent] last year, but it’ll be a test for us to play a team that’s next door to us; the girls all know each other,” the coach said. “We have Rocky Point and Mount Sinai [as neighbors and opponents this year], and those are tough teams. These girls come out and play hard against those teams, and if we take care of the ball and make good decisions, we can be in the game with anybody.”

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Tyler Ammirato races toward the rim on a steal. Photo by Jim Ferchland

By Jim Ferchland

Miller Place started off hot with a 24-18 lead over Amityville at the end of the first quarter, but it went downhill for the Panthers, which fell to Amityville 98-58 Jan. 8.

In the blink of an eye, the Warriors pushed the tempo and went on a 22-0 run to start the second quarter. Amityville was ahead of the Panthers 32-12 over the eight-minute span, and could not come back from being outscored 80-34 in the final three stanzas. Amityville improves to 9-1 on the season and 6-0 in League VI while the Panthers drop to 4-7 on the year and 3-4 in conference play.

Miller Place head coach Brian Sztabnick was content with how his team played in the first quarter, saying he thought there were three things his Panthers did well.

Daniel Berrios moves the ball around a defender. Photo by Jim Ferchland

“No. 1 we switched defenses a lot so we can get them off guard, giving them different looks,” Sztabnick said about the positives in the first quarter. “No. 2, we hit shots, so that’s always going to help. No. 3, we took care of the basketball. We didn’t have many turnovers; we did everything in our game plan that we wanted to do.”

Senior Alex Herbst led Miller Place with 11 points, and sophomores Daniel Berrios and Thomas Cirrito added 10 each. Herbst was not pleased with the loss, mainly because he believes Amityville can be taken down.

“I’m frustrated because I feel like [Amityville] can be a beatable team,” Herbst said. “We showed that we can play with them in the first quarter, and then everything just dropped off.”

Four players scored in double-figures for the Warriors. Senior Joshua Serrano led Amityville with 24 points, and behind him was sophomore Divaahd Lucas with 20, senior Jayson Robinson with 18 and freshman Julius Goddard with 13.

Berrios was expecting a hostile environment playing in Amityville. He said he was amped up to compete.

“I was excited,” Berrios said about playing against Amityville. “I was expecting it to be crazy; I wanted that. I couldn’t wait to play in that atmosphere. I couldn’t wait to take it all in and play against them and against adversity.”

Despite the 40-point win, Amityville’s Gordon Thomas said he’s learned to always keep his foot on the gas pedal against any team. He added his team used the first quarter as motivation to bounce back.

Matthew Hirdt moves the ball into Amityville’s zone. Photo by Jim Ferchland

“Never underestimate your opponent,” Thomas said. “In the first quarter, they were beating us. I said to my guys that you can’t put the switch on and off at any time. When you go out there, you have to be ready to play.”

Sztabnick understood Amityville was undefeated in League VI coming into this game, and for him, it wasn’t about winning, it was about testing to see if his Miller Place team can play with an undefeated one like Amityville.

“I wanted to see if we can maintain poise,” Sztabick said. “With a team like this that’s as talented as they are, highly-ranked as they are, you know they’ll be ready to go on a run especially on their home court.”

In the second quarter, Amityville was reckless with points off turnovers. Sztabnick said his team’s transition defense struggled to respond.

“With the way we started, we proved we can play with them,” he said. “One of the things we have to work on is maintaining that over a period of time. It’s one thing to do it for eight minutes in a quarter. After they went on a 22-0 run, we cut it to seven at one point, so we still fought back, but eventually their speed, size and athleticism was overpowering us.”

Miller Place looks to bounce back today, Jan. 11, against Hampton Bays. Tipoff is currently scheduled for 4:30 p.m.

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By Bill Landon

Miller Place’s football team may have fallen just short of a Long Island championship title, but the Panthers have a lot to be proud of.

Despite losing the heart and soul of its running game at the start of the season, the team propelled itself in a positive trajectory for senior Tyler Ammirato. The Panthers finished second in the Division IV standings at 7-1 behind undefeated Babylon.

Miller Place’s football program shook off the semifinal round jinx by shutting out Shoreham-Wading River to advance to the Suffolk County championship game. It was the second time the Panthers beat Shoreham this season in pursuit of the program’s first county title, which was won with a 33-25 besting of Babylon Nov. 16.

“This team had its backs against the wall from the beginning … but we just kept plugging along,” Miller Place head coach Greg Murphy said. “To get to this point, it’s a true measure of their character.”

Taking care of the running duties all season long was senior quarterback Anthony Seymour, who struck first for the Panthers in a 29-27 loss to Seaford in the Long Island finals Nov. 24 on a keeper up the middle for a 4-yard touchdown with a chance to tie the game. With the point-after kick attempt hitting off the left goalpost, the team was down by one to start scoring for the first, 7-6.

Defense had been the Panthers’ strength this year, and the group came up big with an interception in the end zone by Sebastian Cannon, but Seaford returned the favor on Miller Place’s first play from scrimmage.

Ammirato, who returned to the team midseason, scored the next points by punching into the end zone in the second quarter, and caught a pass for a 2-point conversion to end scoring for the third, which closed the gap to leave the Panthers trailing by two, 22-20 after a Seymour-to-Tom Nealis touchdown pass.

Senior wide receiver Anthony Filippetti pulled down a 22-yard strike from Seymour and went the distance in response to another Seaford touchdown, and kicker Cameron Hammer split the uprights as Miller Place remained trailing by two with 8:50 left to play. The Panthers came up with another stop, but an interception with 1:46 left in regulation sealed their fate.

“These kids have gotten a taste of what it’s like to be a part of something you preach about since August — that goal was to get to the Long Island championship,” Murphy said. “They got here, they experienced all of it and hopefully that’s the motivation for the title going forward — to know that they can do it.”

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Rocky Point's field hockey team celebrates its first Suffolk County championship title since 2014. After losing to Miller Place in the county finals the last two years, Rocky Point shut out the Panthers 4-0 Oct. 28. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Rocky Point head coach Katie Bittner felt different about this county playoff game.

For the first time after her pregame ritual, which involves showing a picture slideshow to her field hockey team, she wasn’t crying.

Bella Fusco passes the ball up the field. Photo by Bill Landon

“I always tell them I get very nervous before games, and I always get very scared before a county game because it could mean goodbye,” the coach said. “But they looked at me after we did our picture slideshow and they said, ‘Look, she’s not crying.’ And I wasn’t crying, because today I knew wouldn’t be goodbye.”

Bella Fusco fulfilled Bittner’s prophecy, finding the back of the cage twice in her Rocky Point field hockey team’s 4-0 blanking of Miller Place for the Suffolk County Class B crown Oct. 28.

“We wanted it a lot more — we’ve been working for so long, we work hard, we practice, we run a lot to stay in shape, and we just deserved it,” Fusco said. “We’re all a big family so to move on [to the Long Island Championship], nothing could be sweeter.”

Fusco, a sophomore at top-seeded Rocky Point, scored her first goal nine minutes into the contest off a pass from Sara Giammarella. The senior set the tone 40 seconds later, when she rocked the back of the box with a hard hit off of a feed from senior Christiana Bellissimo for a 2-0 lead at the 20:20 mark. But Giammarella was quick not to take all of the credit.

“It’s our defense,” she said of what helped her Eagles soar. “Nicki Taveras holds our backs on the defensive side; she’s a wall, no one can get past her. And Lizzy Wiener, she’s awesome, just fantastic.”

Miller Place’s Nicole Beck and Rocky Point’s Sara Giammarella fight for the ball. Photo by Bill Landon

Rocky Point proved faster to the ball, passed cleanly and pressured the No. 2 Panthers, which struggled to get the ball past midfield.

With 12:51 left in the first half, Fusco struck on a crossing pass from senior Emily Molinaro for a 3-0 advantage at the break.

Deflated, opportunity came knocking for Miller Place when Rocky Point went a down a player with 24 minutes left in regulation, but was unable to capitalize.

Senior forward Hannah Luchsinger scored the final goal on a solo shot to close out the scoring for the Eagles, which had previously lost to Miller Place in the last two county finals matchups.

“I have 10 seniors who want it [more than anything else],” Bittner said. “I have 10 seniors who have gone to the county championship the past three years and have not won it, so all I saw today was heart.”

Rocky Point will face Garden City in the Long Island championship Nov. 1 at Newfield High School at 6:30 p.m. The Eagles last faced the Trojans when the team made it to the regional game in 2014.

Rocky Point’s field hockey team shut out Miller Place 4-0 for the team’s first Suffolk County Class B title since 2014. Photo by Bill Landon