By Jim Ferchland
The Mad Dogs were down after dropping their second game all season, the first of three, 996-863, at home at AMF Centereach Lanes against Sachem Jan. 9.
But Middle Country’s girls bowling team was not going to let the loss snap their winning ways, and the team got hot scoring 924 in the second and 1,017 in the third for a 2-1 victory to remain undefeated (6-0).
The team was thinking it might have lost its mojo after it was forced to change lanes. When playing games at home, the Mad Dogs play on lanes 29 and 30, but according to the AMF staff the lanes were down, leaving Middle Country and Sachem to compete on 25 and 26. Middle Country head coach Mandy Dominguez said this ruined the girls’ at-home advantage.
“Our top bowlers struggled on lanes 25 and 26 today,” he said. “They didn’t bowl as high as they usually do but it’s just one of those things you can’t control.”
Dominguez, who has been at the helm for nine years, has led the team to eight straight league titles. He has high expectations and was unhappy with how his team performed in the first game.
“It was our worst game of the year,” Dominguez said. “I was a little disappointed
and depressed, but I knew that the girls had the ability to come back and win.”
Sachem came to play in the first, and even Sachem coach Diane Groneman was really impressed with her girls’ performances. Sophomore All-County bowler Amanda Naujokas scored 246, which really gave Sachem the advantage.
“This is one of the better games we’ve had this season,” Groneman said. “You’re always pumped to go against the first-place team.”
Middle Country senior Nicole Lettich, who is sixth on the team with a 205 average, led Middle Country with a 181 in game one, and then caught fire in the next two. She bowled a 213 and 258, slamming home seven strikes in a row in the third. For Lettich, it was quite a surprise.
“I haven’t bowled over a 200 in my third game in so long,” Lettich said, as she usually bowls around a 170 late in the game. “[It] felt really good … I really haven’t bowled that well lately. It was exciting.”
Senior Allison Burfeindt has been bowling for Middle Country since seventh grade, so she knows the bar is set high every year. She said she and the three other soon-to-be graduates average over 200, along with most of the rest of the Mad Dogs because they know what needs to be put in to get results.
“All of the girls on the team put in so much work,” Burfeindt said. “We practice every single day.”
Middle Country may have won by over 100 pins in game two, but Dominguez said his team still wasn’t at its best with all the spares.
“We are used to getting a lot more strikes than spares,” Dominguez said. “It wasn’t our best day, but we did enough to win.”
Freshman Hannah Skalacki, who bowls the highest average on the team with a 224, did not play because of personal reasons. Senior Julie Acosta fell shy of meeting her 207 average, finishing with a 165, 160 and 191.
“Even though we struggled in the first game, we just came back hard and fought for the win,” she said. “We didn’t give up and came together as a team. We just fought to the end.”
Dominguez said that despite the win, his Mad Dogs can’t play like they did again if they want to beat Longwood Jan. 11. Longwood gave Middle Country their first dropped game back on Dec. 19. The game is set for 3:30 p.m. at Coram Country Bowl.
“If we bowl like we did today, we’ll lose to Longwood on Thursday,” Dominguez said. “They are very good. We have to bowl better.”