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Playoffs

We had such a wonderful relationship. I wondered whether this was it. Could this be the one that I remember years from now, that I think about when I’m feeling down, or that I go back to when I hear the phrase “the good old days”?

It was better than good for a while. You were incredible and so supremely satisfying. There was electricity, energy and a belief that this connection was something extraordinary. It gave me so much to look forward to, day in and day out, because I knew you’d be there for me.

I was dealing with a lot this summer. My family moved to North Carolina. I lost the close proximity to the friends, neighbors and nearby family I’d taken for granted for all these years.

It was harder to see you at first. But that didn’t stop the connection, from allowing me to enjoy the promising magic ride. Maybe modern technology minimized the distance, maybe it was just some perceived link, but I believed in you, in us, from so far away.

My wife has become accustomed to the annual search for this kind of closeness with you. She’s extraordinarily supportive of my emotional well-being. She knows that I need you, even if you don’t always seem to need me. She appreciates that I don’t need to try to defeat this kind of addiction.

She knows that I had a connection with you long before she came along and she doesn’t try to get in the way of that. She hasn’t tried to change me or turn my attention to other passions. She also knows that, when all is right between you and me, she and I have a better relationship because I’m a better-adjusted person who believes anything is possible.

It was such a whirlwind this time. Even when you seemed on the precipice of disappointing, you found a way to come through. You put a smile on my face as I went to bed, knowing that you’d done it again and that the sky really was the limit.

Of course, I recognized that it would never be so spectacular for all these months. I knew there’d be some nights when I might feel like pulling away, when I might think about dedicating my time, attention and passion elsewhere. I didn’t disconnect because I wanted it to work out. I pushed the warning signs away, even if I started to feel as if the separation and the potential through the middle of the summer fell short of my hopes.

Ultimately, as you know all too well, people remember the biggest moments. When these monumental days arrived, you seemed ready.

Initially, you didn’t disappoint. But, then, something happened. It was as if the nagging concerns I had through the summer came back to haunt us. You hadn’t changed at all: It’s just that I saw the weaknesses, the deficiencies and the problems that limited you.

You fought bravely to hold on, but it just wasn’t meant to be. The Red Sox and their fans, as it turns out, will continue to move forward, driven by the belief that those 108 wins will propel them all the way to the World Series.

For me, I can only look back and smile, wondering about what could have been after that spectacular start and hope that, maybe next year, the Yankees and their dedicated fans from near and far will bask in the progression from summer success to the fall classic.

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By Bill Landon

Smithtown West’s boys lacrosse team found itself in an unfamiliar position this season.

Down four goals in the third quarter, the Bulls bounced back to tie the game 7-7 and eventually take a 10-9 lead, but a last-minute goal forced overtime, where the No. 2-seeded boys lacrosse team fell to No. 3 Half Hollow Hills East in the Class A semifinals May 24.

With Smithtown West down four goals, seniors Kyle Zaradski and Andrew Arce each scored twice, and junior Matt Caddigan made the go-ahead goal to give the Bulls their first lead of the game with six seconds left in the third quarter.

Half Hollow Hills East’s Mike Gomez found the net four minutes into the final quarter, but Arce stretched the net three minutes later to retake the lead, 9-8. The Colts countered again, but Arce continued to have an answer, scoring his fourth goal of the game for a 10-9 Bulls lead with 3:22 left to play.

With a minute left, Half Hollow Hills East forces overtime, and held the ball for one shot in the final seconds of a four-minute overtime period, which gave the Colts a sudden-death victory.

Smithtown West, which had outscored its opponents 202-82 this season, ended the year with a 14-2 record.

By Bill Landon

P..J. Clementi powered No. 1 Harborfields’ boys lacrosse team to its first Class B final appearance since 1992.

Though scoring four goals in the first half of the Tornadoes’ 11-7 semifinal win over visiting Rocky Point May 23, his four assists in the second proved much more crucial.

The team had likened the game to boxing match. After the first two quarters, the teams were in a 6-6 stalemate, but Clementi said he knew the difference was Harborfields had what it took to last all four rounds of this fight.

“There’s no doubt [Rocky Point] is a great team, but we’re built for this — we’re a 48-minute team,” Clementi said. “Halfway through the fight we knew we had ‘em, so we stood on the gas pedal and it showed on the scoreboard.”

Although Rocky Point had its fair share of time with the ball, the Eagles struggled to get a clear shot on goal. The Tornadoes defense swept up several passes for turnovers and Harborfields was right back on attack.

“We really took it play by play, goal by goal — stayed focused on the little things,” senior Andy Derasmo said. “Getting ground balls and clearing makes the game.”

Clementi connected with Derasmo (three goals, one assist) three times in the second half to help Harborfields to a lead it would not relinquish. Clementi also handed the ball off to senior Jimmy Bifulco (three goals, one assist).

Harborfields head coach Glenn Lavey said he told his team to not worry about the tied halftime score, putting an emphasis on remaining physical to tire out the Eagles by the second half.

“We had to just focus on grinding,” he said. “I told my guys I wouldn’t be surprised if it was tied at halftime. I told them you win a 12-round boxing match with body blows — it’s not easy to stay with us an entire game.”

Rocky Point senior Mike Vaden (two goals, one assist) scored the final goal of the game. Classmates Jake Wandle and Zach Gill also added two goals apiece for the Eagles. Sophomore Tyler Kotarski made a game-high 15 saves to Tornadoes senior Zack Yorio’s 12.

Harborfields will face No. 3 East Islip for the Suffolk County title Wednesday May 30  at Islip High School at 4:30 p.m.

Meaghan Tyrrell has put the team on her back before.

With Mount Sinai down 5-4 at halftime, Tyrrell lifted her stick high above her head and sent her shot over visiting Rocky Point’s goalkeeper for the go-ahead goal, her second straight to start the second half, in the Mustangs 6-5 Class C semifinal win May 22.

As she pulled down her arms, with them, the weight came crashing down.

“Being down is always a stressful situation. We needed to remain composed. We knew each draw counted. Once the opportunity presented itself, I took it.”

— Meaghan Tyrrell

“Relief,” the Syracuse University-bound senior said of how she felt following the score. “Being down is always a stressful situation. We needed to remain composed. We knew each draw counted. Once the opportunity presented itself, I took it. I knew this was where our momentum would build.”

Senior Gabby Sartori scored on a free position goal to put Mount Sinai ahead 6-4. Tyrrell won six draw controls and Morgan Mitchell (one goal, two assists) won three.

Mitchell, a junior, is following in the footsteps of Kasey, her older sister, who just finished her freshman year on the No. 1-ranked Stony Brook women’s lacrosse team.

“I kept working and working, and my sister helped tremendously,” Morgan Mitchell said. “I felt comfortable, I changed things up — push and then pull to myself.”

She didn’t start the season at the draw circle after banging her knee and missing scrimmages, but she’s been impressing others.

“She’s one of the brightest spots this season so far,” head coach Al Bertolone said. “She’s done a tremendous job all season. Since we got her back it’s been full steam ahead.”

Mitchell was working hard in the first half, scoring the first goal and assisting on the next two as Mount Sinai went up 3-0 early. Senior Meaghan Scutaro made back-to-back stops on defense to keep Rocky Point at bay.

“It gets our momentum going when defense gets good stops like that,” she said. “We were looking to take away their key players — Maddy Sanchez, Bri Lamoureux, Christina Bellisimo — take their midfield out
of the game, but it became a really tight one.”

“It’s a boarder war. One thing about intensity is you have to match it.”

— Al Bertolone

Bellisimo (three goals, one assist) scored twice, once with the help of Sanchez, and assisted on another during the Eagles’ four-score streak that put them up 4-3 at halftime. Mount Sinai, which turned the ball over 10 times, made most of its errors in the first half.

“It’s a boarder war,” Bertolone said. “One thing about intensity is you have to match it. We started off great but we let them back into it and we had to try to get what we wanted to do going. We weren’t smart with the ball in the first half, but in the second half we were smarter.”

The head coach said it was a good test as the team enters the Suffolk County Class C title game against No. 3 Westhampton May 31 at Hauppauge High School at 3 p.m.

“It was a wet, sloppy day, but you have to win on a day like today if you want to win a championship,” Bertolone said. “Our program, our tradition has put us in position. We’re right there.”

No. 9 Harborfields will travel to No. 8 Westhampton today at 4 p.m. in the second round of playoffs

By Bill Landon

Harborfields’ strength lies in its singles play. The No. 9-seeded boys tennis team swept all four singles spots — all the Tornadoes would need in a best-of-seven series — and went on to blank visiting Brentwood 7-0 in the first round of the Suffolk County playoffs.

Harborfields junior Alex Rzehak, who earned All-State honors the last two years, led his team at first singles. He shut down Brentwood’s Armando Santana 6-0, 6-0.

“He’s our No. 1 player,” Harborfields head coach Bob Davis said of his state tournament alternate. “He plays the best kid on every other team in our division. In fact, the top four finishers in the county are all from our division. This is the second year in a row he’s the alternate. He’s a junior, so he’ll get another bite at the apple.”

Eighth-grader Chris Qi, at fourth singles, also shut out his Brentwood opponent.

“He wound up with a 9-3 record this year in our division — that’s not easy,” the coach said. “We have some kids who are serious about tennis, and [slowly but surely] we’re getting there.”

Other young Harborfields athletes shined during the match. Freshman Michael Singer nipped his challenger 6-1, 6-0 at second singles. Singer made the All-County team this year, and won a round in the county singles tournament.

“We’re hoping for big things from him [moving forward,]” Davis said.

Rounding out singles action was junior Bobby Bellino, who won his match 6-0, 6-1.

“He could wind up being the best of all,” the coach said of his third singles player. “He’s got amazing tools, he just has to work on his consistency.”

The second doubles pair of John Mulé and Luke Verdon competed in the only match that went to three sets. After falling 3-6 in the first, the seniors rallied back 6-3, 6-1 to claim a win in the second-to-last match of the afternoon.

“It was interesting,” Mulé said. “We really didn’t play much at all last week because of the weather. We may have underestimated our opponent at first, they’re pretty good.”

Davis, although thinking his team should have been seeded higher, said he’s under no illusion that his team will have to work hard to prepare for No. 8 Westhampton May 23. The Tornadoes will travel to Westhampton for a 4 p.m. match.

“I think we should’ve gotten a high seed … so now we have to go out and prove it,” he said. “Westhampton is a very good team. It’ll be a very good match, so we’ll see what happens.”

Bellino said he’ll be prepared, but added the doubles pairs will also need to be ready to back up the singles players.

“It’ll be a lot of pressure on our doubles guys — they have to come up big and get those crucial points because if one of us in singles loses, we need a doubles team to pull through,” he said. “I’m just going to go in with a clear head and not think about the pressure that’s riding on the game … just go out and have fun, try to find my opponent’s weakness and use that to my advantage.”

This version was updated May 22 at 9 p.m. to change the date of Harborfields’ next game, which was postponed due to rain.

After first-round bye Mustangs face No. 5 Rocky Point today at home at 4 p.m.

The visiting Mustangs galloped onto the field like it was a playoff game — knowing they needed to win to earn the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. But Mattituck’s girls lacrosse team made them work for it.

With the game tied 8-8 heading into overtime, Mount Sinai sophomore Morgan Mitchell dished the ball to senior Gabby Sartori, who netted what would end up being the game winner with two minutes remaining. Mitchell had lent a helping hand all afternoon May 12, ending the 9-8 victory with a goal and five assists. A handful of them helped senior Camryn Harloff tally a hat trick, in a game that won Mount Sinai a share of the Division II title with Bayport-Blue Point (both 13-1).

Mount Sinai’s Camryn Harloff, on left in a previous game against Rocky Point, scored four goals in the Mustangs’ regular-season finale. File photo by Bill Landon

“I wasn’t really thinking about scoring, I just knew we had to get the job done whether it was me or someone else,” Harloff said. “It definitely feels nice to win the division, but that’s just one piece of the bigger picture — we want another state title.”

Mount Sinai has won three straight Class C crowns, and a large group on the current squad have consistently helped get there.

Senior Meaghan Tyrrell, who is second among all Suffolk scorers with 49 goals and 36 assists, said despite a shaky start against Mattituck, her teammates always know how to pull together in crucial contests.

“I believe draw controls led our team to victory, with Morgan [Mitchell] playing really well both on the draw circle and in the offensive zone,” said Tyrrell, who finished with a goal and two assists. Mitchell ended the game with six draw controls. “We play smart under pressure.”

Twin sisters, senior defenders Kirsten and Meaghan Scutaro, have also been fixtures.

“They hold us together like glue,” Harloff said. “The offense puts up the points we need, buy they are the key aspects to this team because defense is our foundation.”

Sartori and senior Jenny Markey added two goals each in the final regular-season game.

As the No. 1 seed, the Mustangs had a first-round bye, and will face neighboring Rocky Point, the No. 5 seed, at home today, May 22, at 4 p.m.

Harloff said she is anxious to try to make a run at her fourth and final state title.

“We definitely feel a target, but we don’t focus on that — we go day by day,” Harloff said. “We’re not going to be complacent, but we are confident.”

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By Bill Landon

Middle Country’s girls lacrosse team came up short at the buzzer in a Class A quarterfinal game that saw nine lead changes. No. 5-seeded Riverhead’s defense held down the fort in the final 30 seconds against the No. 4 Mad Dogs to pull away with a 13-12 win.

“It was a tough one today,” Middle Country head coach Lindsay Dolson said. “We made some mistakes that we didn’t need to make.”

Down 6-4 at halftime, Middle Country junior Sophie Alois scored her third goal of the game to make it a new one, knotting the score at 6-all three minutes into the second half. After a Riverhead goal, Middle Country senior Emily Diaz dished the ball to Alois, and then to senior Sydney Juvelier 35 seconds later to help the Mad Dogs retake the lead.

The Blue Waves tied it up again before Middle Country did in return, and Diaz scored on a penalty shot with 14:07 remaining to give the Mad Dogs what would be their final lead of the game.

Riverhead rattled off four unanswered goals to take a 12-9 lead and ran crucial seconds off the clock by stalling until the four-minute mark.

With 3:37 left in regulation, Alois split the pipes unassisted and scored her fifth goal of the game a minute later off a feed from junior Jennifer Barry. Middle Country won the ensuing draw and this time, it was the seventh-grader Kate Timarky who wouldn’t be denied, as her solo shot found the back of the net to retie the game, 12-12, with a minute-and-a-half left in regulation.

After a shot on goal by the Blue Waves, controversy ensued and the game’s three officials conferenced on the field. After a minute of deliberation, the trio ruled it a good goal and Riverhead retook the lead 13-12 with 30 seconds left.

Middle Country won the final draw and called timeout with 22 seconds remaining as the Mad Dogs planned their final shot, but failed to get the ball near the cage as time expired.

It was a stinging defeat for the defending Long Island champions.

“When we were down by three we didn’t panic — we have plans for that, and we finished with good draw controls and were able to [retie the game],” Dolson said. “I thanked the seniors for their hard work their dedication — they will be greatly missed and we wish them good luck next year.”

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By Bill Landon

Comsewogue almost called it a comeback. The girls lacrosse team trimmed a four-goal deficit to one in the final minutes of a first-round Class B playoff game against visiting East Islip May 18, and despite winning possession on the final draw with 20 seconds left, the Warriors failed to find the net, falling 9-8.

“We have awesome players with amazing speed — our seniors Hannah [Dorney] and Brianna [Blatter] stepped up, they played a hell of a game,” Comsewogue head coach Jaqueline Wilkom said. “We had to win that draw and push it down toward the net at the end, but unfortunately the game didn’t end in our favor.”

Dorney, a University of Notre Dame-bound senior, won possession and Comsewogue called timeout with 20 seconds on the clock. With time for one last shot, the Warriors turned the ball over and the Redmen recovered and let the clock run down.

“We’re very young — we have five middle-schoolers and only four seniors,” Dorney said. “We had two key players out for most of the year, so for a while we were a little lost.”

The senior, who came into the game second among Suffolk County scorers with 85 points, four behind Northport’s Olivia Carner, found the net four times and assisted on a goal in her final Comsewogue lacrosse game. She finished the first half with a hat trick, scoring twice on penalty shots and once off an assist from junior attack Julia Fernandes. Her third goal closed the gap to one, 4-3, and even with No. 5-seeded East Islip countering with two goals in just over a minute’s time, No. 4 Comsewogue came back to keep the deficit the same, with the Warriors down 6-5 at the halftime break.

After the Redmen tallied two more scores to start the second, a Comsewogue penalty put the Warriors at even more of a disadvantage, as East Islip capitalized on the opportunity to go up 9-5. Sophomore Olivia Fantigrossi scored her second goal, freshman Nelida Watson assisted Fernandes’ second and Dorney scored on another penalty shot to give the game its final score with 29 seconds left.

“We pump each other up from the sidelines, and our bonding in practice is what helped us get this far,” Dorney said. “We’re a family.”

Olivia Carner competing in the Suffolk County championship last year against Middle Country. File photo by Bill Landon

By Desirée Keegan

All season long, Northport’s girls lacrosse team has shown it can handle the pressure, and Friday was no different.

Olivia Carner had three goals and three assists and Emerson Cabrera added four goals and one assist
to lead Northport to a 15-9 win over crosstown rival Huntington May 11 and complete the program’s first perfect season since 2009.

Emerson Cabrera ompeting in the Suffolk County championship last year against Middle Country. File photo by Bill Landon

“It feels good to go undefeated — the girls have been working extremely hard and have stayed focused all season,” said head coach Carol Rose of her 16-0 Tigers. “It’s not easy to go undefeated — the pressure can be overwhelming, but this group handled the pressure all season with poise, grit and determination. I love seeing them be successful because this group has earned the title ‘undefeated division champions.’”

Northport came out of the gate firing on all cylinders, building up a 9-1 advantage over the Blue Devils by the halftime break. Carner said the team’s closeness has led to this year’ successes.

“Throughout the season our team has become closer and closer — knowing how much potential we have,” she said. “We all play for one another and work well as a team. We all want each other to do whatever it takes to win.”

The team’s leading scorer credited its strong bond for her own personal accomplishments this season.

“It felt great being able to contribute to our wins and is easy to do so because our team is so close and we all want to achieve the same goal,” said Carner, who leads all Suffolk scorers with 64 goals and 25 assists. “When the final whistle blew it was an awesome feeling of pride knowing all our hard work had paid off and we were finishing undefeated.”

She said with an undefeated season and as the No. 1 seed, she knows her team has a target on its back, but said the Tigers will work that much harder this postseason to prove they’re where they belong.

“We’re motivated and determined this time around, especially knowing so many teams are looking to beat us.”

— Danielle Pavinelli

“We want to get back to that county title game,” she said.

Northport lost 13-3 to Middle Country in 2017, ending a 13-5 season in the county finals. Senior Danielle Pavinelli, who is the second Tiger in the top 10 in the county in scoring, coming in at No. 9 with 46 goals and 25 assists, said she only sees her team continuing to thrive this time around.

As the top team Northport earns a first-round bye. The Tigers will take No. 8 Sachem East Saturday, May 19, at the local Veterans Park at 11 a.m.

“We’re motivated and determined this time around, especially knowing so many teams are looking to beat us,” Pavinelli said. “I believe we will be able to handle whatever teams throw at us in playoffs. We’re the closest we’ve ever been — we treat each other like family and we’re always looking out for each other. Each and every one of us understands how hard we have to play in order to go far.”

She attributed much of the team’s success and will to win to Rose, who eclipsed 800 career victories this season.

“She encourages us every day to be the best we can be,” Pavinelli said. “And we owe this season to her.”

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Wolverines face top-seeded Smithtown East in the out bracket on the road May 15 at 4 p.m.

By Bill Landon

Although the double-elimination game didn’t go as planned, Bobby Vath got by with a little help from his friends.

The first-inning showing was all visiting Connetquot needed to get past Newfield, 3-0, in the first round of baseball playoffs May 14. With a runner in scoring position a Vath pitch was drilled deep to left field for a ground-rule double and a 1-0 lead. Three pitches later, a passed ball at the plate put Connetquot ahead 2-0.

“I went back into the dugout after the top of the first, and they were right there ready to pick me up,” the senior said of his teammates. “So I was ready to go back out there in the second and fight for my team.”

Newfield was unable to answer in bottom of the inning, and unfortunately for Vath, an RBI-single gave the Thunderbirds an insurance run in the top of the second.

Newfield was able to get the bat on the ball after that, but when the Wolverines did get on base, Connetquot’s defense answered the call to keep them there.

Vath found his rhythm in the third, and despite Connetquot putting two runners on base in the top of the sixth, the senior didn’t give up a run the rest of the way. He struck out the next two batters in that inning to get out of the jam.

“He settled down after that first inning and started throwing outs, working off his fastball and had good command of the game,” Newfield head coach Eric Joyner said. “That’s just vintage Vath — he’s a great competitor.”

Newfield faces an unexpected opponent Tuesday, May 15, after top-seeded Smithtown East was upset by No. 17 Bay Shore, 7-4.

“Our approach has to be the same — come out of the gate hot, protect the baseball and throw strikes,” Joyner said. “We’ll have to execute a little better offensively tomorrow than we did today.”

Despite Newfield being the No. 8 seed, Vath said to him and his Wolverines, it doesn’t matter what seed they are, or what number they’re facing.

“We’ll definitely get the scouting reports from the other coaches who’ve played [Smithtown East], because that helped us in this game too, but their number doesn’t scare us,” Vath said. “We’ll go in there with the mentality that if the 17thseed beat the No. 1 seed, anybody can beat anyone on any given day.”

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