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Division III

Wolverines are on track to make the playoffs for the first time in over 10 years

Newfield's Emily Diaz gets her body on the ball as she sends it into the net. Photo by Desirée Keegan

All Emily Diaz had to do was put her body on it.

As senior center midfielder Kristen Prevosto sent in a corner kick for the Newfield girls’ soccer team, Diaz, a junior forward, was in the right place at the right time.

Newfield's Kristen Prevosto heads the ball. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Newfield’s Kristen Prevosto heads the ball. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“When I was standing in front of the net — I’m always on the goalie — I asked Emily [Caso] to go on the goalie so I could get the ball,” Diaz said of her game-winning goal. “I saw it, and thought, ‘this is me.’ So out of the air I had nowhere else to go with it then to push it with my stomach. It went in, and I was psyched.”

With a 2-1 victory over Smithtown East Sept. 26, the Wolverines are on track to make the postseason for the first time in over a decade. Although compiling two ties over a nine-game span, the Wolverines bested reigning state champion Port Jefferson, 3-2, in their season opener, proving they’re talented enough to hang with the best. They’re also learning from their mistakes.

Newfield tied Smithtown East, 1-1, the first time the two teams saw each other Sept. 7. This time around, the girls were hungry to continue their winning ways, with the team’s third straight win, and now have a record of 5-1-2 in League III.

“It’s one of the strongest starts we’ve gotten off to, ,” Newfield head coach Domenik Veraldi said. “But we just think about winning this game, winning the first half, winning the first 10 minutes and winning the ball. We compartmentalize into small, small goals and eventually when we accomplish those small goals it turns into what we want in the end.”

And Newfield did all of those things.

First, the team won the 50/50 balls, and despite Smithtown East senior midfielder Brianna Donato getting back-to-backs shots on goal, Newfield’s junior goalkeeper Alexis Saladino made save after save.

Smithtown East's Brianna Donato controls a pass. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Smithtown East’s Brianna Donato controls a pass. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“We try to keep the ball in the offensive third, and when we can do that, it takes the pressure off of our defense,” Veraldi said. “The only way to keep it up there is to win those air balls; work to every play. We train them to win — not the 50/50 balls — but our balls.”

Newfield junior defender Taylor Regensburger, who was soft but tactical with her foot skills, curled a corer kick into the goal to open the scoring for the Wolverines three minutes into the second half.

Three minutes later, Donato knocked the ball to the floor as she dribbled toward the box, and sent it into the left corner to tie the game for the Bulls.

The two teams traded possession throughout much of the game, but the Wolverines clawed their way up top, making strategic passes and remaining aggressive until, and even after Prevosto set up the game-winning shot.

“It’s awesome to see a team come together as well as we have,” Prevosto said. “I knew we needed to score, so I set the ball up, concentrated on where I was going to put it, and placed it.”

She said her team has improved tremendously from her eighth-grade year to now, and Diaz agreed.

“We have been playing together for a long time,” Diaz said. “We were a young team that continued to grow together. As the season progresses we build on that chemistry day after day, we’re working hard in practice, we’re all really good friends and it’s fun to be on the field, and that’s why we keep winning.”

Newfield's Taylor Regensburger leads the race to the ball. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Newfield’s Taylor Regensburger leads the race to the ball. Photo by Desirée Keegan

What she liked about her team’s style, compared to Smithtown East’s, is that the Wolverines use more combinations, whereas the Bulls kicked and ran.

Chemistry plays a part in the team’s ability to transition the ball up and down the field. Veraldi said because of this, his group is one to be reckoned with.

“When they play with that much heart and that kind of work ethic, we’re a dangerous team,” he said.

And Diaz anticipates for her team to take it all the way.

“We have to keep our heads up and keep fighting back for the win,” she said. “I have high expectations for us and we’re achieving them every game. We take it game by game by game, and we’re on the road to playoffs.”

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Panthers pick off passes, make big offensive moves to annihilate Eagles, 53-14

By Bill Landon

The Panthers pounced early, and often.

On Saturday afternoon, the Miller Place football team outscored Rocky Point 53-14 in their homecoming game. After the pregame parade of floats, the marching band, fire trucks, cheerleaders and the crowning of the king & queen, the Panthers went to work.

Miller Place moved the chains four minutes in and appeared to stall on a 4th-and-19, but a call from the playbook was to go for it, and they did. Miller Place senior quarterback Stephen Farrell faked a handoff and rolled to his right, he was able to see a clear path to senior wide receiver Thomas Bell, who found the end zone for the score.

“We practice that play a lot and it was too far for a field goal, so we might as well take a shot with a play that we practice all week,” Farrell said. “And when it’s run the right way, it looks good.”

With the point after good, the Panthers took an early lead, 7-0.

Rocky Point fumbled the ball on its next possession, and Miller Place sophomore running back Tyler Ammirato, on a long run, put the Panthers in scoring position. Two plays later, Ammirato finished what he started by powering into the end zone for the Panthers second score. With the extra-point kick successful, the team took a 14-0 lead with 4:23 left in the first quarter.

On the ensuing kickoff, Rocky Point fielded the ball on the 1-yard line, and stepped back into its own end zone and took a knee, downing the ball in the Eagles’ own end zone and handing the Panthers two points on a safety.

With 1:36 left in the opening quarter, Miller Place senior running back Kemonte Mosely made something out of nothing when he stalled up the middle and bounced outside, running eight yards to the end zone. With junior Eric Romero-Cisneros’ kick good, the Panthers took a 23-0 advantage into the second quarter.

“Coaches told us to come out here and play our hearts out,” Mosely said. “It’s homecoming, and the last time for our seniors to come out here and make it big. Rocky Point’s our neighbor — we knew it was going to be a big game for us, so we came out here and played hard.”

The Eagles found the end zone on the opening play of the second quarter when senior quarterback Harrison Lynch found sophomore running back Alec Rinaldi for the touchdown. Junior Sean McGovern split the uprights, and his team trailed, 23-7.

From there, it went from bad to worse for the Eagles, as the Panthers continued to light up the scoreboard. First, senior running back Matthew Bell, on a hand off, stepped outside and strolled into the end zone untouched. Rock Point was desperate to stop the bleeding and threw a long ball down the right sideline only to have it picked off by Miller Place senior defensive back and co-captain Mike Bodnar, who ran it back to the 16-yard line. With 8:55 left in the half, Farrell found Matthew Bell, who caught the ball and ran 21 yards for the score and 37-7 lead.

“Words can’t describe how bad we wanted it — we had the heart and the hustle,” Bell said. “We wanted it more and that’s what happened.”

The Eagles couldn’t get any traction, as Lynch searched for an open receiver and threw the ball down the right sidelines, only to have it picked off again, this time, by senior defensive back Kevin Kelleher.

The Panthers took over on the 34-yard line, but were unable to move the chains. With a cold breeze sweeping through, Romero-Cisneros knocked the ball between the posts with 16 seconds left on the clock. His 37-yard field goal helped his team surge ahead 40-7.

On the subsequent kickoff, the Eagles had time for one or two more plays. Desperate to put points on the board before the halftime break, Rocky Point made another long attempt, but Kelleher again saw the pass and snatched the ball out of the air for his second interception on the day.

Thomas Bell opened the second half for Miller Place with an 85-yard kickoff return to put the Panthers deep into Eagles territory. Mosely got the call, again, and delivered. Two plays later, he pushed his way into the end zone, and just 15 seconds into the third quarter, Miller Place head coach Ron Petrie began rotating his bench players with the 47-7 advantage.

“Defensively, we set a tone early; they had a couple of quick three and outs,” Petrie said. “With what we do offensively, we knew we would be able to find some mismatches in the passing game, and I think that’s what opened it up for us.”

In the closing quarter, Ammirato struck again for the Panthers’ final score of the day.

“It was a great win and I’m happy we won for our seniors today,” Ammirato said.

With the missed extra point, the Panthers were out in front, 53-7.

Rocky Point wasn’t out of gas just yet, and the Eagles managed one more score with nine minutes left when senior running back Brandon Combs found the end zone to help bring the final score to 53-14.

Bell said the win was very satisfying.

“They fought hard, we fought hard; it’s all the preparation from our coaches that got us to where we are now,” he said.

Farrell wasn’t surprised by the win, and was proud of his team’s efforts as the Panthers improve to 4-2 in Division III, while Rocky Point dropped to 2-4.

“It just shows how hard we worked and how bad we wanted this win,” Farrell said. “We wanted it for all the fans, and we wanted it for all of us.”

Shoreham-Wading River midfielder Melissa Manzello knocks in her penalty stroke in the Wildcats' 2-0 blanking of Port Jefferson on Sept. 28. Photo by Desirée Keegan

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.”

Port Jefferson's Phalina Sciara and Shoreham-Wading River's Taylor Flanagan race for the ball. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Port Jefferson’s Phalina Sciara and Shoreham-Wading River’s Taylor Flanagan race for the ball. Photo by Desirée Keegan

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.”

Port Jefferson defender Andreya Harvey fights for possession amid a swarm of players. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Port Jefferson defender Andreya Harvey fights for possession amid a swarm of players. Photo by Desirée Keegan

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.

Comsewogue goalkeeper Jake MacGregor scoops up the ball amid a scrum in the Warriors’ zone during Comsewogue’s 6-5 win at Hauppauge April 7. Photo by Desirée Keegan

In practice, the Comsewogue boys’ lacrosse team performs a drill called “12 minutes,” and they’ve been putting that practice to good use so far this season.

“We treat it like the fourth quarter, where there’s 12 minutes left, and we work harder to make sure we come out on top,” junior midfielder Trevor Kennedy said. “We work to score more goals in that 12 minutes.”

On Tuesday, for the third time this season, the Warriors came out ahead in a close, one-goal game. This time, the boys topped Hauppauge, 6-5, rewarding their coach with a birthday win and claiming the top spot in Division III four games into the season.

“Winning against a top team in the division — it’s always nice to take them down and prove that we’re a contender,” Comsewogue junior goalkeeper Jake MacGregor said. “[Coach] had the starters over to watch film for two or three hours at his house to prepare for the game. We always take each game seriously and come out to win.”

Comsewogue’s Trevor Kennedy evades Hauppauge defenders as he makes his way up the field into the Eagles’ zone in the Warriors’ 6-5 win at Hauppauge Tuesday. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Comsewogue’s Trevor Kennedy evades Hauppauge defenders as he makes his way up the field into the Eagles’ zone in the Warriors’ 6-5 win at Hauppauge Tuesday. Photo by Desirée Keegan

MacGregor wasn’t kidding.

The junior made six stops in the first six minutes en route to 17 saves on the evening.

“They were really good shooters on the other team but my defense held it together and was able to give me open looks to save the ball,” he said.

After several attempts, Hauppauge was first on the board, but three more Comsewogue saves later, the Warriors tied it up — senior faceoff specialist Zach Deutsch won the ball off the faceoff and took it all the way to goal just eight seconds into the second quarter.

From there, the Warriors never trailed, but the Eagles tied the game four times to keep the fans on edge.

First, junior midfielder Brandon O’Donoghue slid behind the net and passed the ball to sophomore attack Will Snelders on the right side. Snelders dove and shot it in for the 2-1 advantage with 6:46 left in the half.

Five minutes later, Hauppauge tied it again with a goal from Danny Murphy off an assist from Kyle Silverstein.

Comsewogue’s Kennedy was the only player to score in the third, when the ball was passed around the perimeter and, from the left side of the net, it was skipped out to him at center, where he whipped it in for the 3-2 advantage.

MacGregor came through with two more saves after that goal to maintain the lead heading into the fourth.

While in the huddle between quarters, Mitchell shouted, “Look at the clock. This is our time.”

Comsewogue’s Johnny Koebel looks downfield to make a play in the Warriors’ 6-5 win over Hauppauge Tuesday. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Comsewogue’s Johnny Koebel looks downfield to make a play in the Warriors’ 6-5 win over Hauppauge Tuesday. Photo by Desirée Keegan

And the boys synchronized their watches for a win.

First, Silverstein and Murphy connected for a Hauppauge goal, and after another MacGregor save, junior defender and midfielder Chris Pedone scored when he took the ball and rushed it all the way up the field. The Warriors led 4-3 with 9:52 left to play.

The teams kept going back and forth. Hauppauge’s Murphy scored unassisted and Comsewogue’s Kennedy, off a pass across the field from sophomore attack Ryan Dorney, rocked the back of the cage for a 5-4 lead.

Silverstein and Murphy continued to heat up and connected again to tie it at 5-all. Despite losing possession, the Warriors found a way to force a turnover behind the net, and Snelders came through with another diving play with 42 seconds left to end the scoring.

“The kid that passed me the ball, he drew my man and I came in and saw his man coming at me, so I tucked underneath and scored,” Snelders said. “It felt pretty good.”

Hauppauge won possession off the ensuing faceoff and with seconds left, fired a shot that MacGregor saved to seal the win.

“I just tried to react like I do in practice facing some nice shooters like Will Snelders and Trevor Kennedy,” he said. “I just tried to treat it like any other save.”

But Comsewogue head coach Pete Mitchell is more than impressed with his goalkeeper.

“Hauppauge is a very good offensive team and to only allow them to score [five] goals is a testament,” the head coach said. “He just does it game after game; he’s solid.”

He also gave credit to Stephen Reed, Matt Spahr and Chris Pedone, a baseball and soccer player who recently joined lacrosse.

Comsewogue goalkeeper Jake MacGregor comes out of the cage to block Hauppauge defenders from regaining possession in the Warriors’ 6-5 win over the Eagles Tuesday. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Comsewogue goalkeeper Jake MacGregor comes out of the cage to block Hauppauge defenders from regaining possession in the Warriors’ 6-5 win over the Eagles Tuesday. Photo by Desirée Keegan

All four of the team’s games have been one-goal games, the first three of which went into overtime.

The Warriors earned a 6-5 win over Mount Sinai first, before falling to Islip, 4-5. They picked it back up with a 10-9 victory against Eastport-South Manor before the game at Hauppauge. Moving forward, Mitchell is hoping his team can score more goals.

“That’s Division III right now — any coach will tell you, anybody can win on any day,” he said. “I give all the credit to Hauppauge. They just as easily could have been walking off victors here, but it really makes for exciting lacrosse in Suffolk County.”

Kennedy sees signs of good things to come.

“Our defense is sick — our big goalie is pretty good, too,” he said with a laugh. “Our offense could use a little more work but we’re starting to gel and I’m felling pretty confident. Hauppauge was No. 1, now we’re No. 1.”