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Champion

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Mount Sinai edged out Bayport-Blue Point, 9-6, for the program's third consecutive Suffolk County Class C title. Photo by Desirée Keegan

With her team’s early 3-0 lead turning into a 5-3 deficit, Meaghan Tyrrell knew somebody had to take charge.

“I got the ball in our offensive end, and I knew somebody had to do it,” Tyrrell said. “And I just stepped up.”

She had a five-goal performance and two assists to lead Mount Sinai’s girls’ lacrosse team to its third consecutive Class C county crown, with 9-6 win over Bayport-Blue Point May 30. The junior scored unassisted to pull her team within one, 5-4, and assisted on senior Leah Nonnenmann’s game-tying goal less than 30 seconds later. She knew her team was on its way to the Long Island championship as she raised her hands toward the sky following two unassisted goals soon after her assist.

Meaghan Tyrrell moves the ball into Bayport-Blue Point’s zone. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“We wanted this so bad,” Tyrrell said. “We know Bayport, we’ve seen them before, but each time it’s different. When they started coming back we realized something had to change.”

The key was not only Tyrrell taking charge, but locking down on defense, and the Mustangs had one of the county’s top defenders in senior Emily Vengilio to do just that.

“We never give up,” Vengilio said. “[Bayport-Blue Point has] a great offense, so we knew our defense had to step up. Three years ago when we lost to them [11-9 in the county final] in the last 10 minutes, we knew what it felt like, so we fought hard to make sure it didn’t happen again.”

Phantom Kelsi LoNigro was the target, and Vengilio and twin sisters Meaghan and Kirsten Scutaro made every step the senior tried to take difficult.

“Our kids are tough — they’re all veteran players,” Mount Sinai head coach Al Bertolone said. “We tried to take [Kelsi LoNigro] out of the mix because she’s a catalyst for their offense.

We took their best punches. At the end of the day you have to have kids that fight, and they fought.”

Mount Sinai jumped ahead 3-0 with two goals from senior Veronica Venezia. Tyrrell assisted on the first and scored the second goal of the game. But Bayport-Blue Point picked up steam to tie the game by halftime. Nonnenmann said her teammates were in their own heads, including herself — even while racing toward the circle to grab a pass from Tyrrell for her goal that made it 5-5.

Meaghan Tyrrell scores. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“I was thinking ‘I should get this,’” she said. “I had a lot of pressure on my shoulders. But when it was me and the goalie I knew I had it.”

Mount Sinai’s objective just a couple of years ago was to “prove people wrong.” Now, the Mustangs are synonymous with championship-level lacrosse.

“We’d always been overlooked, but that’s changed now,” Vengilio said. “We wanted to make the full circle. Each win feels great, but this one especially. Now we’re definitely on top.”

Kings Park shot putter grabs gold medal at indoor state track and field meet

Kings Park shot putter Danny Byrne stands atop the podium after placing first at the indoor state track and field championship. Photo from Danny Byrne

By Desireé Keegan

A local shot putter went to Albany in search of redemption, and he returned home with the ultimate hardware.

Kings Park shot putter Danny Byrne’s toughest opponent, Jack Zimmerman of Briarcliff, hadn’t thrown as well as expected, which lifted a weight off his shoulders and allowed him to just relax, and let it fly. Byrne’s 58-feet, 10.25-inch toss, a new personal best, won him gold at the state indoor track and field championships at Ocean Breeze Athletic Conference in Staten Island March 4.

Kings Park’s Danny Byrne hurls the shot put. Photo from Danny Byrne

“It was a surreal feeling — I dreamed about being a state champion,” Byrne said. “Right after the competition reality set in, and I started to cry. It was an emotional experience.”

The Long Island and Suffolk County indoor champ had won both meets during the spring of last year but didn’t perform the way he’d hoped when he made the trip upstate.

“It wasn’t what I wanted,” he said. “I didn’t prepare correctly for that meet last year, and now, I feel I definitely had revenge on the state championship. That spring performance definitely motivated me to work really hard to achieve what I achieved this season.”

Second-year head coach John Luis Damaskos said Byrne has been progressing since he took over the indoor team. He first had the chance to see his athlete compete when he attended a Kings Park football game, and said when he met Byrne on the track, he could already tell the type of competitor he was dealing with.

“He had a good mentality for training hard, and he was focused,” Damaskos said. “To see him train as competitively as he does but still be such a good, nice guy, it’s something a coach really looks for in an athlete.”

Assistant coach Rob Gelling said Byrne’s focus is what took him to the next level.

“I saw an intensity in his eyes for accepting nothing but first place,” he said. “I could see it when he was weight training, I could see it when he was doing drills, and I could see it in his desire to throw every day in practice.”

Byrne also took full advantage of a premiere throwing coach in Shoreham-Wading River’s Bill Heine and credits the football program for helping him add a few feet to his throw.

“It was without question one of the most emotional moments in my whole athletic career — from player to coach. Danny was overwhelmed. There were tears, there were hugs, and there were high-fives and fist pounds…”

—Rob Gelling

“I definitely did a very good weight-training program this year, and I credit the Kings Park football program for teaching me everything I know about lifting,” he said. “As for my technique in the circle, Bill Heine is the reason why I am where I am. His knowledge of track and field, and shot put specifically — I owe him a lot. It all came together and to reach my personal best, it made me feel really good to see all my hard work over the last four years pay off.”

His coaches were also moved by his state championship-winning moment. Damaskos said it was a long time coming.

“It was heartwarming,” he said. “He’s always trying to do more, and it was something he was really proud of — we were all really proud of. Being an elite thrower, he helps out the younger throwers on the team, and he has a great rapport with other throwers on the Island, so to see him be cheered on the way he was and reach this level of achievement, it was something special.”

Gelling echoed the head coach’s sentiment, adding that because he’s retiring, he feels lucky to have had coached a state champion in his final year with the team.

“It was without question one of the most emotional moments in my whole athletic career — from player to coach,” he said. “Danny was overwhelmed. There were tears, there were hugs, and there were high-fives and fist pounds from all the coaches who know him well from Section XI. His parents were ecstatic. He’s a pleasure to work with and I learned a lot from him.”

As Byrne looks ahead, the five-time All-Division, four-time All-County and three-time All-State selection has his sights set on the spring season.

“I’m looking forward to working hard, continuing to improve what I do and I think the sky’s the limit,” he said. “Whatever you put in, you get out, and I’m looking to defend this state title in the spring.”

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The Smithtown West boys' basketball team is all smiles after winning back-to-back League III titles with a 78-59 win over Copiague. Photo by Desirée Keegan

When the boys’ basketball team from Smithtown West entered the locker room, they let out a loud scream.

They’d done it. After not winning the League III title in nearly 50 years, the Bulls are now back-to-back champs. And they have their secret weapon to thank.

Greg Giordano drives to the basket. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Greg Giordano hadn’t played in the team’s first matchup against Copiague, and it turned out that worked to his advantage. The senior scored 28 points in Smithtown West’s 78-59 win Feb. 2.

“He’s strong, athletic, he’s a jumper, he’s fast, attacks the rim,” Smithtown West head coach Mike Agostino said of his captain. “He does the right thing every single day in practice. His work habits are awesome, and as a result, you get the byproduct of a game like this.”

Giordano found the open lane time and time again, driving the lane and using spin moves, reverse layups and under-the-basket passes amid a flurry of aggressive defenders.

“We came out firing,” he said. “We’ve got a veteran group of guys that love playing with each other, and whenever things are going down we know we can pick each other back up. We wanted to come out and make a statement.”

That statement was made early when the Bulls jumped out to a 10-2 lead after two minutes of play, scoring layups on their first five possessions — two by Giordano, two by Chris Crespo and the other by Kyle LaGuardia, before Gordon Shouler swished a three-point shot.

Kyle LaGuardia knocks down a layup. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“We worked hard and I think we deserved it,” Crespo said. “Copiague is a team that can score the ball. They have crafty, excellent guards that get to the basket, so we needed to contain them.”

Leading 36-26 at halftime, five Bulls helped the team run away with the game in the third quarter, outscoring the Eagles 16-9. Giordano and senior Michael Gannon, who came off the bench to score 16 points and grab 10 rebounds, scored five points apiece over the eight minutes.

“During warmups I was hitting most of my shots, so when I got open I let it fly,”
Gannon said.

Copiague amped up the defense in the hopes of getting back in the game, scoring 12 straight points in the fourth quarter as the home crowd roared, but Giordano iced the game late, racking up 12 points off 14 free-throw attempts.

“They played like us,” Agostino said. “They played tough, they played smart, and they played together. They know that’s the formula we need to be successful.”

Chris Crespo avoids a block as he leaps to the rim. Photo by Desirée Keegan

The win extended the Bulls winning streak to 13 games. The team is just two games away from going undefeated in conference play.

Crespo said in the moments following the win it felt like a dream.

“We’ve been playing together since sixth and seventh grade, so it’s definitely a special moment,” he said. “The sky’s the limit for us.”

Agostino said he’s proud to see all the dedication pay off.

“We have to play against good teams that are strong and game plan and strategize to beat you,” he said. “Winning the league is the hardest thing to do, but we play each game the same way. I’m with these guys all the time — and there’s ups and downs — and they had to work hard and persevere and overcome and for them to still be successful, I’m elated. I couldn’t be happier for them.”

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Chris Gray's cutbacks, three touchdowns steal the show

Shoreham-Wading River's football team raises the Long Island championship trophy for the third straight season following a 20-10 win over Seaford Nov. 27. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

What is Shoreham-Wading River’s recipe for success? A rapid running game and domineering defense.

Chris Gray cuts back as he moves the ball downfield. Photo by Bill Landon
Chris Gray cuts back as he moves the ball downfield. Photo by Bill Landon

So it was no surprise that as the football team’s star running back Chris Gray swiveled around Seaford defenders to find the end zone three times on Stony Brook University’s LaValle Stadium field, the Wildcats would make history, becoming the fourth team to win a third straight Long Island title with a 20-10 win over the previously unbeaten Vikings.

“I give all the credit to my line,” Gray said. “I do the easy part — just running — so it’s great teamwork. Having [Ethan Wiederkehr] on the end of the line is just a blessing. It makes my job a hundred times easier, and he’s just a hell of a player and a hell of a competitor.”

Wiederkehr was a force to be reckoned with on both sides of the line of scrimmage, as the senior tight end’s blocks led to holes for his classmate up and down the field. He also tackled Seaford’s quarterback for a 13-yard loss, and was involved in nine tackles.

Despite compiling a 34-2 record over the past three years, Shoreham did face its share of adversity, and dropped two of its first five games this season. And the team found itself behind early in the first quarter of the Long Island game.

After a dip-and-dunk passing attack, Seaford drove the ball to Shoreham’s 6-yard line, but couldn’t penetrate the Wildcats’ defense. Facing 4th and three, Seaford chose to kick the field goal with7:42 left, and split the uprights for an early lead.

On the ensuing kickoff, Seaford attempted an onside kick, which caught the Wildcats by surprise. The Vikings recovered a short kick and went back to work at the Shoreham-Wading River 47-yard line. Despite the successful move, Shoreham-Wading River’s defensive unit stood its ground, denying Seaford any points.

Kevin Cutinella leaps up and tips the ball before Joe Miller grabs it for the touchback. Photo by Bill Landon
Kevin Cutinella leaps up and tips the ball before Joe Miller grabs it for the touchback. Photo by Bill Landon

During a sustained drive in which the Vikings went to the air to try to move the ball over Shoreham’s defense, senior quarterback Kevin Cutinella proved he’s just as effective defensively as he is offensively, when the safety tipped the ball, and senior cornerback Joe Miller recovered it for a touchback. Miller briefly thought about running the ball out of the end zone, but took a knee, and the Wildcats’ offense went back to work at their own 20-yard line.

“I told them that we have a chance at our third consecutive Long Island Championship, we’ve got a shot at the Rutgers Cup and we have a chance to make Long Island football history,” assistant coach Hans Wiederkehr said he told the team prior to the game. “Other teams try year after year, and don’t make it. This is a once in a life time opportunity.”

It was only a matter of time before Gray broke through the line with a spin-and-run move, and he did so just before being forced out of bounds at the 11-yard line. Gray finished the five-play, 78-yard drive two downs later when he bulled his way straight up the middle six yards. With junior Noah Block on the hold, junior kicker Tyler McAuley drove his kick through the middle of the posts to help Shoreham to a 7-3 lead at halftime.

It was a defensive struggle early in the third, and Shoreham forced Seaford to punt from deep in their own end zone, and the Wildcats returned the ball to the Seaford 46-yard line. From there, Cutinella went back to work under center, handing the ball off to Gray play after play. The running back broke free on a 17-yard run for his second touchdown of the day. Seaford got a piece of the point-after attempt ball that was kicked just wide, giving Shoreham a 13-3 lead.

Chris Sheehan and Kyle Boden tackle Seaford's star running back Danny Roell. Photo by Bill Landon
Chris Sheehan and Kyle Boden tackle Seaford’s star running back Danny Roell. Photo by Bill Landon

Again, the Wildcats’ defense made a statement with a block, and took over on downs at the Seaford 34-yard line. Gray struck again, this time, on a 21-yard run where he executed three swift cutbacks through traffic, seeming to magically appear on the other side of a swarm of players with 39 seconds left in the third quarter.. McAuley’s extra-point kick was good, and Shoreham took a 20-3 advantage.

With eight minutes left in the game, Shoreham Wading River junior corner back Kyle Lutz out-jumped an intended Seaford receiver for an interception on his team’s own 6-yard line.

Cutinella, looking to take time off the clock, huddled and handed the ball off to Gray, and the Wildcats were unable to convert for points. Seaford wouldn’t go down quietly, and scored on an 18-yard touchdown pass.

With the yardage from the game — 205 on 30 carries — Gray has over 2,000 rushing yards on the season. He finished with a total 2,179 on 217 attempts, and is one of six Wildcats to play in all three Long Island wins. Cutinella, Wiederkehr, senior fullbacks Chris Sheehan and Dean Stalzer, and senior tight end Daniel Cassidy were the others.

Head coach Matt Millheiser was presented the championship trophy, and handed it over to Cutinella, who raised it high in the air.

“I just played the last football game of my life,” Cutinella said. “And I couldn’t be more proud to be part of this.”

Shoreham-Wading River is one of just four teams, second in League IV, to win three straight Long Island titles. Photo by Bill Landon
Shoreham-Wading River is one of four schools, the second in League IV, to win three straight Long Island championship titles. Photo by Bill Landon

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Royals will march down Main Street in parade Nov. 20

Port Jefferson's girls' soccer team is all smiles as they walk off the field winners. Photo by Andrew Wakefield

Trailing by a goal, the Port Jefferson girls’ soccer team found itself in a familiar situation. Although this time the stakes were a little bit higher.

The senior-laden Royals were competing for a second consecutive state title Nov. 13, and, down 1-0 to Geneseo at halftime, the girls admitted for once they were worried.

“The team was very nervous,” senior midfielder Brittany Fazin said. “We had a lot of pressure on our backs to win it again, especially with most of us being seniors. But we knew all the hard work paid off for this moment.”

Brittany Fazin slides for the ball. Photo by Andrew Wakefield
Brittany Fazin slides for the ball. Photo by Andrew Wakefield

The team was characterized by frequent comebacks throughout the course of a 31-3-1 two-year run. So at halftime, the team came together to figure out the solution to its problem.

“At halftime, we all spoke up, got on each other, calmed each other down and told each other that this is our game,” Fazin said. “We were playing down to their level, and not playing our game.”

That’s when Jillian Colucci — the team’s spark plug — did her thing.

First, her longtime teammate, senior forward Clare O’Connor, came close to tying the game with a strike over the crossbar 10 minutes in. Two minutes later, she found an opening and passed to Colucci, who scored the equalizer.

“Once that one goal came, that was all they needed,” Port Jefferson head coach Michele Aponte said. “It fueled their fire. It motivated them.”

Port Jefferson kept pressing for the go-ahead goal, and with 24:26 left to play, Fazin scored what would become the state title clincher.

“My goal that put us in the lead felt incredible,” Fazin said. “I beat out two girls down the middle, I took a shot from the 18-yard line and it went into the bottom right corner.”

Mikayla Yannucci battles for the ball. Photo by Andrew Wakefield
Mikayla Yannucci battles for the ball. Photo by Andrew Wakefield

While heading to goal, she said she remembered the mistakes the team had made throughout the course of the first 40 minutes in the back of her mind, to make sure she executed.

“As I was dribbling, I kept repeating ‘get over the ball, get over the ball,’” she said. “Most of our shots skyrocketed over the net, and I knew if I got my shot low and on target, I would have a better chance.”

She put the team to the lead, but got the Royals some breathing room when she scored three minutes later on a strike from 35 yards out, assisted by Colucci, and finished the game with a hat trick goal from the 25-yard line to cap a 4-1 Royals victory.

“I was just having an amazing time playing the sport that I love,” Fazin said. “I’m so glad we got to end it this way.”

Colucci said she hopes other Port Jefferson athletes will continue to take the program on its positive trajectory.

“It was hard not to be nervous with the added pressure after last season, but we focused on taking it one game at a time and we were so pumped to know we had one more opportunity to step out on the field together again in the finals,” the senior forward said. “Looking back on previous seasons and games, going down a goal was not an unfamiliar situation for us. We just knew it was time to shake off the nerves, settle down and work together. I hope we can inspire the players behind us, and the program continues to have this kind of success for many years to come.”

The Port Jefferson girls' soccer team topped Geneseo, 4-1, for the program's second consecutive state title. Photo by Andrew Wakefield
The Port Jefferson girls’ soccer team topped Geneseo, 4-1, for the program’s second consecutive state title. Photo by Andrew Wakefield

Fazin was named most outstanding player in the playoffs, and junior goalkeeper Brianna Scarda was named outstanding goalkeeper.

“Ending with a state title was surreal, but to be named an outstanding player made it a moment I will never forget,” Fazin said. “Most people can’t even say they have one state title, and the fact that I get to say I have two is incredible.”

Colucci said to be able to take home the title with nine other seniors in their final season was icing on the cake for her high school career.

“We are just so lucky to be able to do all of this together — who knew this is how our soccer journeys would end when we started playing intramural soccer at 4 years old?” she said. “It has without a doubt been an incredible journey, and making history just tops it off. It doesn’t get any better than sharing this success with this particular group of girls doing what we love and having fun. It’s truly unforgettable.”

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Billy Witrock competes in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles during the Eddy Games. Photo from Andrew Witrock
Billy Witrock holds up his first-place trophy. Photo from Andrew Witrock
Billy Witrock holds up his first-place trophy. Photo from Andrew Witrock

Port Jefferson senior Billy Witrock came home from the Eddy Games track and field competition in Schenectady a star.

During the meet, the athlete not only took first place in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles, but also set a new Port Jefferson record in the event, with his time of 55.27 seconds.

“I am really happy about it,” said Witrock, who runs on the cross country, winter and spring track teams.

The previous school record of 55.49 seconds was held by Danny Gross and set in 2014.

“He really did an excellent job in a difficult race,” head coach Rod Cawley said.

Aside from being a student-athlete, Witrock also serves as class president. He will be attending Tufts University.

John Arceri, left, fights off Long Beach’s Jacori Teemer in the state wrestling tournament finals. Photo from The Mat Slap

He gave it everything he had, but in the end, John Arceri fell just a little bit short.

The Huntington High School senior tasted defeat for the first time in two years when he dropped a 6-3 decision to Long Beach sophomore Jacori Teemer in the state wrestling tournament finals at the Times Union Arena in Albany on Saturday night.

Arceri won a pair of matches at 126 lbs. on Friday and captured a thrilling double overtime verdict in the semifinals on Saturday to advance to the championship bout. The standout athlete brought a 44-0 record into the finals against Teemer, who has now won three consecutive state titles.

“Teemer wrestled a perfect match against Johnny,” said Travis Smith, Huntington’s head coach. The Long Beach star notched a pair of takedowns and a reversal to build an insurmountable lead on Arceri, who normally surrenders few, if any, points.

“All of us are really proud of Johnny,” Smith said. “He’s accomplished some things that no other Huntington wrestler has ever done. He’s been a great kid to have in the practice room and an incredible competitor. No coach could ask for a better person to work with.”

Arceri has enjoyed a Blue Devils career of firsts. He’s taken first place in more than two dozen varsity tournaments, and he’s also realized achievements unique to Huntington’s long tradition of mat excellence.

He’s the first Huntington freshman to ever win a Suffolk wrestling title. Arceri is also the first Blue Devils grappler to win four Section XI titles. He is the program’s winningest wrestler with 195 career varsity victories.

“I really think the body of his work speaks for itself,” Smith said. “He’s never made excuses and he’s always been ready to go when it was his turn. He’s given us six fantastic seasons on the varsity team.”

Arceri topped Vestal junior Derek Osman in the opening round, 5-3 and then edged Niagara Wheatfield senior Vince Falvo in the quarterfinals, 6-1. The semi-final round bout against Monsignor Farrell senior Matt Seitz ended tied 1-1 after six minutes of wrestling, forcing overtime. Neither wrestler could break the deadlock in the extra session, so the duo went to the ultimate tiebreaker, which saw Arceri take top position and ride out his foe for the full 30-second period to claim victory.

“That match is going to go down as one of the most exciting we have ever had,” Smith said. “Johnny really hung tough. Not everyone can handle that kind of pressure, but he can, and he did.”

All eyes were on Arceri and Teemer (49-0) as the pair took the mat for the finals. The first period ended scoreless. Teemer scored the first points with a second period reversal, and Arceri escaped to make it 2-1, but Teemer knocked him down to extend his lead to 4-1. Arceri chose bottom position in the third period and escaped to cut his deficit to 4-2. Teemer proceeded to get another takedown to go ahead, 6-2 with 40 seconds remaining. Another Arceri escape made the final score 6-3.

“Teemer is a great wrestler,” Smith said. “We are very happy with Johnny’s effort. He gave us everything he had.

Arceri wasn’t at 100 percent during the tournament. He banged up his left knee during the Suffolk finals, but pressed onward during his four state tournament matches.

Arceri has signed an NCAA Division I letter of intent to wrestle at the University of Buffalo.

“We are really going to miss him,” Smith said. “He’s been such a big part of this program for so long.”

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Eleven Royals place in Division II tournament

Port Jefferson's Matteo DeVincenzo competes for a county wrestling title. Photo by Bill Landon

For the fourth time in his varsity career, Matteo DeVincenzo has done it again.

The Port Jefferson wrestler is headed back to states after a 15-0 win over Lajess Sawyer of Center Moriches in the 126-pound final of the Suffolk High School Wrestling Division II championship Saturday night — a win that earned him his fourth county champion title.

Teammates Rick D’Elia and Joe Evangelista also took first at 99 and 120 pounds, respectively. Vin Miceli took second at 113 pounds, falling 3-2 to his Mattituck challenger Jack Bokina, and Dallas Brett was pinned by Babylon’s Bryan Larsen at 145 pounds to put him at second atop the podium.

As a sophomore, DeVincenzo became the first Long Island wrestler ever to capture a D-II state title when he won at 106 pounds. As a junior, he finished third in the state tournament, and this is his last year to try for another state title.

After the disappointing end to his junior season, DeVincenzo is hoping to join Jamie St. John as the only Port Jefferson wrestler to win two state championships in any division.

So far this season, DeVincenzo earned a first-place finish at the David Sorenson Memorial Invitational held at Long Island Lutheran in Brookville, and a week later got a second first-place crown at the Eastern States Classic, held at Sullivan County Community College in Loch Sheldrake. To earn that latter title, DeVincenzo defeated three other state champions from a field of 60 wrestlers, and was voted Champion of Champions by his peers.

DeVincenzo’s winning season continued when he set a school record of 141 career wins during the Armstrong Cup, held in Port Jefferson on Jan. 30.

The graduating senior, who will attend Princeton University in the fall, is now a four-time Armstrong Cup champion, which according to head coach Mike Maletta has never been done before by any wrestler. He surpassed brother Tristin DeVincenzo’s record 137 wins in his first match there.

Also placing in the consolation finals at the county championship were Brendan Rodgers at 99 pounds, who pinned his opponent at 2:59; the 106-pound Robert Williams, who outscored his opponent 6-3; Joe Longo at 132 pounds, who was pinned by his challenger; Alex Frohnen, who was defeated by his opponent 2-1, at 138 pounds; Jack Collins, who lost 7-1 at 160 pounds; and Ryan Walsh, who did not have a challenger at 195 pounds.

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The Port Jefferson Royals celebrate winning the New York State Class C soccer championship for the first time in program history. Photo by Andrew Wakefield

By Desirée Keegan

“Strong alone. Unstoppable together.” — that was the Port Jefferson girls’ soccer team’s motto this season and with unfinished business, the Royals rode a perfect season in League VII to their second consecutive Suffolk County and Long Island titles, and brought home the state crown for the first time in program history.

“Our goal was to get back up there,” Port Jefferson head coach Allyson Wolff said of taking another shot at New York, after the Royals fell in the state finals last year. “They just showed how when they play like a team, the goals they can accomplish — they did that this year. They were unstoppable.”

The Royals were looking to avoid another devastating defeat on the state stage when their journey started on Saturday in the semifinals, where Port Jefferson topped Caledonia-Mumford, 4-1.

Junior forward Clare O’Connor and sophomore forward Grace Swords each tallied a goal and junior forward Jillian Colucci added an assist, but most impressive was the team’s new member, junior forward Brittany Fazin, who scored twice.

“She was definitely a great addition,” Wolff said. “The connection she made with the girls was nice to see; the chemistry was there.”

Sophomore goalkeeper Brianna Scarda made 10 saves in the win against Caledonia-Mumford.

After coming close to a goal several times against Elmira’s Notre Dame High School in the finals the next day, Colucci assisted the first score of the game when she crossed the ball to O’Connor, who knocked it in from the front left corner of the net to give her team the early advantage.

The two have been playing together since first grade, and the connection showed.

“Because we’ve been playing together for so long, we know where each other is on the field, and we find each other a lot and set each other up the whole season,” O’Connor said. “It’s a bond you can’t find anywhere else.”

Fazin scored next with a shot to the top right corner, and Colucci and O’Connor connected for the final goal of the season, when Colucci headed in O’Connor’s corner kick.

“The atmosphere was a little different because, with our first time up there, we didn’t know what to expect,” O’Connor said. “This year, our fans really brought the energy.”

Notre Dame’s only goal came off a penalty kick after the Royals’ second goal, and Scarda finished with four saves.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” Wolff said. “I’m still in awe. You could see the girls’ confidence rise even more from last year to this year.”

This soccer season was a stellar one for the Port Jefferson girls, as they went undefeated in their league for the third time in four years. On the road to the finals, the girls had tasted only victory since early September — when they lost two nonleague matches — and they were not about to let that change.

Most of their victories in the regular season were shutouts, and they scored five or more goals in the majority of those wins. In the three league games in which they allowed their opponents to score, they still won by at least three goals — they were on fire and earned the top seed heading into the postseason.

The Royals had given up only nine goals in the regular season, and kept that number steady in the regional finals, where they earned a 3-0 shutout against Cold Spring’s Haldane High School.

The action in the state soccer semifinals and finals over the weekend brought the number of goals scored against them to 11 — as compared to the 78 goals they scored this season from start to finish.

O’Connor said it was a result of improvements on both sides of the field.

“It started with the defense — we had our friend Katie [Connolly] go to the back, and she kept our team together for a lot of the season and she stopped a lot of goals from going in,” she said. “We also had a new addition to our team, Brittany [Fazin], and she helped us score a lot of goals too, so it was a little of both.”

As was the case for the team all year, the girls were slow to start in both state games, but once they got the ball rolling, it didn’t stop.

“That seemed to be the running theme this year — it created a domino effect that sparked the offense,” Wolff said. “Brianna [Scarda] also had a great season in goal — the way she communicated with the girls and the way they respected her.”

Using its motto, the team showed how strong they were not only alone, but together, and that togetherness helped them get all the way to the top.

“It’s kind of cool to see each season how much a girl has progressed and how it shapes the team,” O’Connor said. “Our motto came from the U.S. women’s soccer team after its run to the World Cup this summer. We thought it was fitting for us, because we wanted this to be our winning season, and it was.”