High School Sports

The Comsewogue Warriors had their hands full when the undefeated Wildcats of Shoreham-Wading River came knocking Friday, Jan. 13, in a Div. IV matchup.

Looking to keep their perfect record intact, the Wildcats did just that. Their success hinged upon the senior quartet of Sophie Costello, GraceAnn Leonard, Colleen Ohrtman and Annie Sheehan, who put on a scoring fest to win the game, 86-21. 

Comsewogue’s Jalynn Kirschenheuter did what she’s done all season. A long-range scoring threat, she drained three triples and two free throws for 11 points, and Hannah Ellis banked eight.

The win lifts SWR to 6-0 in league and 13-0 overall. The Wildcats now look to overtake Westhampton for the top spot in the division.

The Warriors — at 5-2 in league, 6-4 overall — are back in action Wednesday, Jan. 18, with a road game against Mount Sinai. The Wildcats retake the court Monday, Jan. 16, when they host Miller Place. Both games tip off at 4:45 p.m.

— Photos by Bill Landon

Shoreham-Wading River High School hosted the inaugural Don Jantzen Memorial Wrestling Invitational on Saturday, Jan. 7. The event honored the legendary coach who built the Wildcat wrestling program into a powerhouse. 

Coach Don Jantzen passed away in March 2015. Jantzen’s two sons combined for six state titles during his tenure with the Wildcats.

Comsewogue high school edged Cold Spring Harbor High School 47-22 in the opening round as Shoreham-Wading River bested Mattituck 66-6. The Wildcats would sweep the remaining three rounds, 70-6, 59-15 and 41-26.

Both teams are back in action Wednesday, Jan. 11. Comsewogue will host Hills West at 6:00 p.m., and the Wildcats retake the mat as they travel to Bayport-Blue Point for a 4:45 start.

— Photos by Bill Landon

The Rocky Point Eagles had their hands full, facing a stout defense in a road game against Comsewogue.

In this Div. IV matchup on Thursday, Dec. 15, the Warriors broke out early, taking a 22-point lead going into the halftime break. The Eagles managed to outscore Comsewogue in the third quarter, but the Warriors slammed the door in the fourth, putting the game away, 49-29. 

Leela Smith led the Eagles with 13 points, Julia Koprowski scored six and teammate McKenzie Moeller netted five.

Danielle McGuire topped the scoring chart for the Warriors with four triples and a field goal for 14 points. Hannah Ellis notched 11 and Lalynn Kirschenheuter banked 10.

The win lifts the Warriors to 3-1 in their division. They return to action on Monday, Dec. 19, with a road game against Westhampton. The Eagles travel to Port Jefferson Tuesday, Dec. 20. Game times are 4 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., respectively.

Competing on their home court, the Port Jefferson Royals struggled to gain traction against the defensive press of Miller Place during a non-league matchup Saturday, Dec. 10. 

The Panthers were up seven points going into the halftime break but stretched their lead the rest of the way to win it, 53-37. 

Joe Strickland led the way for the Panthers with 12 points, Tristan Stapleton netted 11 and Nick Fusco banked 10. Tyler Cobb topped the scoring chart for the Royals with 14 points, and teammate Luke Dickhuth dropped 11.

The win inks the Panthers’ first win this early season as the loss drops the Royals to 1-2.

— Photos by Bill Landon

The Div. V Port Jefferson girls basketball squad had its hands full on Tuesday, Dec. 6, in a home game against Sachem North, a competitive Div. II team. The Royals gave their visitors a run for their money, fighting until the final buzzer. 

Seeking to build upon the positive momentum generated during their non-league victory over Westhampton on Dec. 2, the Royals trailed by just two points with 11 seconds left on the clock. Port Jeff inbounded the ball with three seconds remaining but could not get a shot off, falling to the Flaming Arrows, 48-46. 

Seniors Lola Idir and Amy Whitman led the way for the Royals. Idir had nine field goals, a three-pointer and eight free throws for 29 points. Whitman banked in nine points in the game. 

The Royals travel to Half Hollow Hills West on Thursday, Dec. 8, for a 3:45 p.m. non-league game before hosting Miller Place two days later.

— Photos by Bill Landon

Comsewogue senior Hayden Morris-Gray scored 49 points onDec. 2. Photo courtesy Rudy Gray

In an impressive performance, Comsewogue senior Hayden Morris-Gray was a one-man wrecking crew against William Floyd in a non-league matchup Friday, Dec. 2.

Morris-Gray dropped 49 points on his home court, sinking 11 three-pointers, 14 free throws and a field goal. His electric performance topped the scoring charts with 49 points, leading the Warriors in their 73-68 victory. The win lifts the Warriors to 1-1 in their division.

Coach reflects on the road to the state championship

By John Diehl

Head Coach Ward Melville Girls Soccer

Last weekend, the Ward Melville girls soccer team won its first state championship in program history. After defeating perennial powerhouse Massapequa in the Long Island Championship, Ward Melville traveled to Dryden, NY, to compete in the Class AA State semifinal against Monroe-Woodbury High School, a program use to success, winning back-to-back state titles in 2018 and 2019. 

This year’s state championship semifinal showdown would be played in rainy conditions. After a 0-0 draw at the end of regulation, the game went into “sudden victory” overtime. 

Midway through the first overtime period, senior Grace Justiniano crossed a ball into the top of the penalty area. Sophomore Adri Victoriano pressured the Monroe-Woodbury goalkeeper as she tried to catch the ball, but the ball bounced out to the feet of Mia Pirozzi, who scored the game winning goal. 

Following the thrilling victory, Mia those defining moments of play. 

“Right place, right time,” she said. “I just happened to be there.” 

The next day, the Patriots played Clarence High School in the final, where weather would once again be a significant factor, with snow, clouds, and sun taking turns sporadically throughout the game. 

From the beginning, we established control and played a great game.  We put three goals in the net during regulation, but they were all called back for either offsides or fouls. Once again the score was tied 0-0 in at the end of regulation, meaning yet another sudden victory-overtime. 

At the coin toss before OT, captain Elyse Munoz learned that if the game was still 0-0 at the end of both OT periods, then both teams would be declared co-champs.  This had happened to us in 2020, when Sachem East and Ward Melville were declared co-county champs, and the team was not going to let history repeat itself. 

“I refuse to lose,” Elyse said. “I refuse to tie. I won’t let that happen again.” 

We came out on fire in OT, and in just under four minutes of the first period, Maddy Costello passed a through ball to Adri Victoriano, who drove down towards the goal, passed the ball to Mia Pirozzi, just missing the hands of the diving Clarence goalkeeper. For the second consecutive game, Mia guided the ball into the net for the game winning goal. 

En route to our state championship, we had an undefeated season with a 17-0-3 record.  Along with winning the states, we also were crowned Long Island and Suffolk County Champions.  

Our team gave up only eight goals on the season, earned 12 shutouts, and shut out  both teams we faced in the state tournament. 

Our players of the games at states were Mia Pirozzi in the semifinal and Peyton Costello in the final. Our captains are Elyse Munoz, Elian Hamou, Emma Ward, and Peyton Costello. 

All season long, we reinforced to the girls that they continue to rise to every challenge that comes their way. 

“It was an absolute pleasure being on the sideline watching such a talented group of players and coaches come together to make history for Ward Melville Athletics and our Girls Soccer program. It was a magical weekend, where so many family members, community members, alumni, and former coaches came out to support the team. … Congratulations to our NY State Class AA 2022 Girls Soccer Champions!” said Kevin Finnerty, Athletic Director.

By Bill Landon

[email protected]

It was a low scoring ground and pound football game where the Patriots of Ward Melville (No. 4) came knocking on William Floyd’s door the No. 1 seed looking to upset the undefeated Colonials in the Suffolk Div I semi-final Nov. 12. Floyd struck first on a 53-yard pass play 3 minutes before the halftime break but the Patriots quarterback Andrew Belli punched in on a 14 yarder with 5:16 left in the 3rd quarter to even the score. With less than four minutes left in regulation Ward Melville senior running back Nick Gaffney answered the call scoring on a 13-yard run and with Brody Morgans foot, put the Patriots out front 14-7. 

Ward Melville capitalized on a Floyd miscue and took over on the 40-yard line. Protecting the ball and needing a first down the Patriots let the clock bleed out to advance to the final round. 

The win lifts the Patriots to 8-3 and will face Longwood the No. 3 seed, at Stony Brook University Saturday Nov. 19. Kickoff is scheduled for high noon. Tickets can be purchased at: NYSPHSAA – Section XI Events and Tickets by GoFan.

 Photos by Bill Landon

By Steven Zaitz

Almost exactly one year ago, the Northport Football Tigers held a two-touchdown lead against perennial power Lindenhurst and were six minutes away from playing for a Suffolk County title. 

But a missed extra point, a ton of costly penalties and two late scores by the Bulldogs were all part of a disastrous 4th quarter sequence that ended the Tigers’ season on that cold, wet and dreadful night on the Great South Bay. Northport would need to wait fifty-one weeks for a chance at retribution. They would have it.

In a stirring performance, led by backup quarterback Macklin O’Brien’s three touchdown tosses and a relentless pass rush that registered nine sacks, the Tigers crushed Lindenhurst this past Saturday, 21-7 in Northport, to advance to the Suffolk Conference II Final against the Bellport Clippers. This high-stakes game will be played at Stony Brook University on Friday, November 18.

O’Brien, filling in for Tiger star QB Owen Johansen, who broke his ankle against Bellport and was lost for the season four weeks ago, had his best day throwing the ball. He completed 7 of 9 passes for 149 and three scores and did not turn the ball over — a perfect quarterback rating of 158.3.

Despite the pressure growing with each passing round of the playoffs, O’Brien has remained cool and collected on the field and off. “I just try to stay focused and keep improving,” said the lanky senior. “When I first stepped in for Owen, I had some pretty big shoes to fill but with each week, I’ve gotten more comfortable.”

The Tigers lost that game against Bellport, when O’Brien was thrust into the spotlight midway through the first quarter.  Since then, The Tigers are 4-0 in games he has started.

“Macklin works hard, and he’s always worked hard, that’s just the way he is,” said Tiger Head Coach Pat Campbell. “He’s a really good athlete and I know some people felt the sky was falling when Owen got hurt, but nobody in our room felt that way. Good teams pick each other up and rely on the guy next to them and I think having that mentality from everyone —players and coaches — has fostered success for the whole team and for Mack.”

The opening drive of the game was a symbol of this success for O’Brien as well as their All-Suffolk tight end Andrew Miller. Miller took a short rollout pass from O’Brien and rambled 56 yards down the far sideline on the very first play from scrimmage. Miller would score three plays later beating double coverage in the back-right corner of the end zone and the Tigers led 7-0 barely two minutes into the game.

Despite this explosive start, the rest of the first half was kind of a snooze-fest, as the teams traded fruitless drives in and around the middle of the field for the better part of two quarters.

However, with less than a minute to go in the half, Lindenhurst quarterback Christian Capogna scrambled for 20 yards to the Northport 12-yard line. On the next play, Bulldog superstar Chris Carson, who is a finalist for the Hansen award that is given to the Most Valuable Player in Suffolk County, caught a touchdown pass at the pylon with six seconds remaining in the half. This tied the score at 7-7 and took a lot of the air out of the blue and gold balloon going into halftime. 

But it would get refilled in short order.

After stopping Lindenhurst three and out to start the second half, the combination of O’Brien to Miller would do damage again as they connected on a 38-yard TD strike down the middle of the field. Miller beat his man, safety Dominick Artale, on a simple post pattern and O’Brien lofted a perfect rainbow to Miller just as he crossed the goal line.

Miller had his second touchdown catch of the day and the Tigers took the lead back with just three minutes gone in the 3rd quarter.

“Macklin has adjusted great, and he’s been very focused since he took over the offense,” said Miller. “On the second touchdown, I made a move to get the defender to flip his hips and Mack threw a great ball that led me right into the end zone.”

Miller had 4 receptions for 117 yards and 2 touchdowns on the day.  He also had a big third down run with a 12 yard rush up the middle, keeping a drive alive in the third quarter. This led to a 31-yard TD dart from O’Brien to wide receiver Nick Valenti, giving the Tigers a 21-7 lead. It was quite a day for Miller, but his offensive output is only half the story.

The senior is also a big part of the Tiger defense that took up residence in the Bulldog backfield all day. In addition to the nine sacks, one of which was by Miller, Northport limited Lindenhurst to a puny 110 yards of total offense and there would be no blown leads for the Tigers this time around.

Defensive linemen Matt Diaz and Nick Tzimas each had three sacks and All County linebacker Tim Cleary had one. Safety Michael Campoli had nine total tackles, and linemen Thomas Kraus and Matt Lugo had seven each in what was a master class in defensive football. Campbell has pushed all the right buttons this year in increasing reps for guys who had reduced roles before Johansen’s injury. Tzimas, who just started playing organized football this year, is one of those guys.

“It’s been a bit of a learning curve, especially in the beginning,” said Tzimas, who is also a star lacrosse defenseman for the Tigers. “It’s very cool to be able to make an impact and it seemed like every play at least one or two of us was chasing down their quarterback.”

Lindenhurst switched up their offensive alignment on the fly, trying in desperation to find anything to generate sustained drives. Nothing worked. 

Carson, who can do anything asked of him on a football field, is primarily a wide receiver. But Lindenhurst Head Coach Nick Lombardo had him running a wildcat-type offense at quarterback for a good chunk of the second half. He was bottled up for much of what must have been a frustrating day, his last in a Lindenhurst uniform.

“We didn’t play Lindy-tough football today,” said Carson. “There is nobody to really point the finger at. It was all of us and there really is no excuse for it.”

The Tigers manhandled the Bulldogs in the regular season meeting, beating them 19-0 in early October. Dominating a team of this caliber by a composite 40-7 is no small feat and thus they are rewarded with their first trip to a final such as this since they won the Large School Championship in 1991. They beat Bellport 28-9 that day and the rematch comes 31 years later with the stakes just as high.

 “We’ve had a nice year and a lot of success so far,” Campbell said. “The way the chips have fallen this year, we’ve had to overcome a lot of adversity. The kids are the ones that make it all happen and I’m just interested to see where it all ends up.”

As the Tigers face the team that dealt them their last loss, knocked out their star player and in many ways, set them on their current trajectory, the entire Suffolk County High School Football universe will be watching with interest as well.

The Mattituck Tuckers hoped to avenge their first loss of the season in the Class C Suffolk County Championship at Hauppauge High School on Monday, Nov. 7.

Mattituck won the first two sets, 25-19 and 25-21. On track for a shutout win, the Lady Royals rallied and won the following two sets 25-17, forcing a final and decisive game five. 

Port Jeff broke out to an 11-7 lead in a game where 15 points would win. But Mattituck, the no. 1 seed, wouldn’t go quietly, fighting back with ferocity. 

Yet Port Jeff would go on to put the game away, 15-12, ending Mattituck’s season and advancing to the Long Island Championship round. 

Junior Olivia Sherman had 18 kills, a service ace, and 10 digs. Teammate Erin Henry killed 15, and dug out 24, along with three aces. 

The Lady Royals retake the court Thursday, Nov. 10, when they face Oyster Bay at Hauppauge High School. Game time is slated for 7:30 p.m.

— Photos by Bill Landon