A penalty stroke was all the Shoreham-Wading River field hockey team needed to top Port Jefferson Monday.
The Royals came out with more gas, but they were running on fumes by the middle of the first half and couldn’t stop the Wildcats, who ultimately won the game, 2-0.
Although at first the Wildcats had difficult controlling the ball on the lumpy grass field at Port Jefferson, their luck changed with six minutes left in the first.
While Shoreham made a shot at the cage, Port Jefferson freshman goalkeeper Catrina Alvarez fell on the ball, giving junior midfielder Melissa Manzello a penalty stroke.
Manzello wound up and shot straight past Alvarez, who made nine saves on the day, for the 1-0 lead.
“I think today we came together as a team and really worked hard to the end,” the midfielder said. “We worked on our passing and it feels really good to take what we’ve learned in practice to the field.”
Manzello said it helps that the Wildcats have a strong defense to back up the team. Led by co-captain Gabrielle Campo, the defense sent the ball back into Royals territory over and over, leading to fewer shots on goal for Port Jefferson. The Wildcats’ keeper, Megan Daly, only had to make three saves to seal the shutout.
“There is definitely a better team atmosphere and it’s grown since the beginning of the season,” Shoreham-Wading River new head coach Allie Franklin said. “It takes a while to figure out how slow or fast a field is and they figured out that the little passes were working, and that definitely advanced the ball up the field better for us than the big hits today.”
After taking a 1-0 lead into the halftime break, the Wildcats raced out onto the field in the second hungry for more. They dominated the time of possession, rattling off several shots on goal until, with 3:17 left to play, forward Brianna Fischetti received a pass from midfielder Taylor Flanagan and sent the ball crashing into the back of the cage for added insurance.
“We’re still really young, so I’m very proud of how they played today,” Port Jefferson head coach Deb Brown said. “We’ve been having a hard time communicating and I think they came out on fire today — we just got a little too tired in the second half. We need to build up the endurance going forward.”
To Port Jefferson senior midfielder Michelle Bourguignon, the team has already improved since last season and she hopes the Royals can still make a playoff push despite their 1-5 Division III record.
“We’re really good at working together to bring the ball up the field,” she said. “We just need to work on finishing.”
Shoreham-Wading River senior forward and co-captain Nina Mostaccio likes that her team was able to find the open space on the field and communicate to move the ball toward the goal.
“I think as the game progressed we got more hungry in the circle,” she said, referring to the area around the net. “We wanted more goals, and the speed increased as we moved up the field as the game progressed. When you work as a team and are successful, that’s the greatest feeling.”
The Wildcats, 4-2 in Division III after the win, will travel to Miller Place on Wednesday, while the Royals will travel to Babylon. Port Jefferson will host Sayville on Friday at 4:30 p.m., while Shoreham-Wading River will host Southampton that day at 4 p.m.