They waited nearly 365 days for this moment, and the redemption was sweet.
The Mount Sinai girls’ lacrosse team rattled off four unanswered goals in the first half en route to a 7-4 win over Bayport-Blue Point Tuesday to claim the Suffolk County Class C title.
After going undefeated at 14-0 in Division II last season, the girls made it to the same spot on the same Dowling College field and lost, 11-9, to the same Phantoms team.
This year, after that loss, and especially after falling to St. Anthony’s just weeks before the big game by one point, for their second loss in the last three seasons, the girls had a different mind-set.
“Since we never lost, a lot of our girls didn’t think it was possible for us to lose — losing opened a lot of the eyes of the younger girls,” senior attack and midfielder Kasey Mitchell said. “Our most important thing was to come back this year more confident than cocky.”
Still, Mitchell was not going to let her team fall to the Phantoms again.
“We couldn’t lose,” she said, laughing through her smile as she thought about the redemption win. “I was not leaving here if we lost; it wasn’t happening.”
Sophomore goalkeeper Hannah Van Middelem opened the first with a big stop before freshman attack Meaghan Tyrrell scored off an assist from Mitchell, for the team’s first goal with the game less than five minutes old.
Van Middelem came through with another save, and on the next scoring play, Tyrrell passed the ball from behind the net to senior midfielder and co-captain Sydney Pirreca, who charged her way up centerfield for the score and a 2-0 advantage.
“We used that motivation from losing last year — that hurt, that pain — and we used it for this game today, for sure,” Pirreca said. “From the start, I was saying that we had to come out fast, we had to come out strong … That scares any team, and that keeps our confidence up.”
Freshman attack Camryn Harloff was next to score for the Mustangs, and Mitchell followed with a free position shot past the keeper for a 4-0 lead.
Minutes later, Van Middelem made another save.
“I felt confident in net, and everyone else played great, so it helps with the confidence,” said the goalkeeper, who made five of her six saves in the first half. “Our defense played great today.”
With 1:42 left to play in the half, Bayport-Blue Point scored its first goal of the game, and with 9.7 seconds left, Van Middelem made another stop to keep the score 4-1 heading into the halftime break.
“We went 365 days and 360 degrees,” Mount Sinai head coach Al Bertolone said. “I left my heart out on this field last year and it’s been a long year. You have to get back here and you have to redeem yourself a little, and I thought they did a great job.”
The Mustangs opened the second by adding onto their advantage, when Pirreca passed the ball to junior midfielder Rebecca Lynch for the good goal.
The game then went scoreless for over 10 minutes, until senior co-captain Mary Ellen Carron broke the ice for the Mustangs when, after getting double-teamed behind the cage, the midfielder raced around the net and fired her shot straight into an empty net.
Mitchell followed with another free position goal into a still empty net, as the Phantoms pulled the goaltender out to midfield.
“Everything we’ve done the last 365 days was to get back here,” Mitchell said. “We had so many underclassmen step up and we changed a lot as a team. We’re not the same team as last year and that’s why the outcome was different.”
Despite a small letdown where the Phantoms tallied three unanswered goals to end the scoring for the game, the Mustangs had already built up a 7-1 advantage to seal the win.
Mount Sinai will travel to Adelphi University on Saturday to take on Cold Spring Harbor in the Long Island Championship game, at 2:30 p.m.
“This is definitely a confidence booster,” Pirreca said. “We have a lot of respect for the Nassau teams, but if we come out and play our game, we’re going to come out strong; just as we always do.”