Mount Sinai’s motto this season has been “proving people wrong.”
And again, the girls’ lacrosse team did just that. Despite being down 5-1 at halftime, the Mustangs rallied back to score five unanswered goals en route to a 6-5 win over Shoreham-Wading River in the game’s final minutes Monday.
“It was a great turnaround,” Mount Sinai head coach Al Bertolone said. “Everything that you wanted to have happen in the first half happened in the second half. It was the way I thought we could play.”
But the girls came out flat.
While the Mustangs had trouble getting started, the Wildcats were off to the races. Isabella Meli and Erin Triandafils tacked on two goals each, and Mikayla Dwyer scored once while Jesse Arline assisted twice, to put Shoreham up 5-0.
With 3:28 left in the first half, Mount Sinai senior midfielder Caroline Hoeg dodged opponents as she made her way up the middle and scored unassisted to break the ice for her team.
“I think we started off rocky, but we came out at halftime and knew what we had to do,” she said. “Everyone knew they had to play for the girl next to them and we played our hearts out.”
Hoeg helped win possession off the draw to open the second, and from the left side of the cage, passed to junior midfielder Lisa Nonnenmann who scored through traffic up top.
“It’s a gut-check time,” Bertolone said of his team being down. “I told them, ‘are we just going to let someone come in and push us around? Are we going to respond?’ And they did.”
At the 11:12 mark, sophomore attack Meaghan Tyrrell took matters into her own hands when she swiveled around the back of the cage and fired a shot across the front of the net to the far left side. Minutes later, she passed the ball to Hoeg up the middle, who beat out defenders and bounced in a shot that close the gap, 5-4.
“At halftime, our coach was pep-talking us and our captains were great,” she said. “When we came out we knew we had to win the draws to come back, so that was our motive.”
Bertolone called for a timeout and before sending his team back onto the field, the girls shouted “heart,” and continued to play with a lot of it.
The Mustangs won possession off the next draw, and although Nonnenmann had a free position shot soon after, she failed to capitalize. At 3:50, she got another shot, and made it count, tying the game 5-5.
“It was nerve-wracking but we’ve been working really hard this season and it was just great to get out there after we dug ourselves into a little bit of a hole to really work all together, settle the ball and pull it out,” she said. “I think we practice more than anyone else around, we get down to business and it helps us get the job done.”
With 2:06 left on the clock, the Mustangs proved that hard work pays off. From outside, Hoeg passed to Tyrrell at the front of the net, who bounced a shot into the open right side after a goalkeeper misstep, for the 6-5 lead.
“Caroline knew I was open, she knew that was the play, and I saw the goalie’s stick come out and I thought she was going to save it, but I got in there, went around her and shot,” she said. “It was very nerve-racking, but it also felt really great.”
Bertolone called for another timeout, and told his team, “You don’t want to lose this after coming all the way back. We need to win this draw.”
The Mustangs won the draw, and despite turning the ball over, forced a turnover and held the ball until time expired.
The 2015 state championship-winning team is hoping to get back to Cortland this year, and the team’s resiliency may take them there.
“We practice for days like this,” Hoeg said. “This is what we have to do if we want to get to the next level and we want to get back upstate. We knew that we all had to come together and show people that we can come back from losing our top players and prove people wrong. That was the motto this year — coming out and doing what people think we cant.”