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Emily Diaz

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By Bill Landon

Middle Country’s girls lacrosse team came up short at the buzzer in a Class A quarterfinal game that saw nine lead changes. No. 5-seeded Riverhead’s defense held down the fort in the final 30 seconds against the No. 4 Mad Dogs to pull away with a 13-12 win.

“It was a tough one today,” Middle Country head coach Lindsay Dolson said. “We made some mistakes that we didn’t need to make.”

Down 6-4 at halftime, Middle Country junior Sophie Alois scored her third goal of the game to make it a new one, knotting the score at 6-all three minutes into the second half. After a Riverhead goal, Middle Country senior Emily Diaz dished the ball to Alois, and then to senior Sydney Juvelier 35 seconds later to help the Mad Dogs retake the lead.

The Blue Waves tied it up again before Middle Country did in return, and Diaz scored on a penalty shot with 14:07 remaining to give the Mad Dogs what would be their final lead of the game.

Riverhead rattled off four unanswered goals to take a 12-9 lead and ran crucial seconds off the clock by stalling until the four-minute mark.

With 3:37 left in regulation, Alois split the pipes unassisted and scored her fifth goal of the game a minute later off a feed from junior Jennifer Barry. Middle Country won the ensuing draw and this time, it was the seventh-grader Kate Timarky who wouldn’t be denied, as her solo shot found the back of the net to retie the game, 12-12, with a minute-and-a-half left in regulation.

After a shot on goal by the Blue Waves, controversy ensued and the game’s three officials conferenced on the field. After a minute of deliberation, the trio ruled it a good goal and Riverhead retook the lead 13-12 with 30 seconds left.

Middle Country won the final draw and called timeout with 22 seconds remaining as the Mad Dogs planned their final shot, but failed to get the ball near the cage as time expired.

It was a stinging defeat for the defending Long Island champions.

“When we were down by three we didn’t panic — we have plans for that, and we finished with good draw controls and were able to [retie the game],” Dolson said. “I thanked the seniors for their hard work their dedication — they will be greatly missed and we wish them good luck next year.”

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Kate Timarky gets double-teamed. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Middle Country’s girls lacrosse team was able to hold off visiting Bay Shore twice behind four goals from Emily Diaz, to take a 12-9 win April 24.

“I knew that they were better than their record shows and I warned [our team about that], because they’re going to come in hot,” head coach Lindsay Dolson said. “I saw a lot of watching — we need to at least get the ball on the ground [off the draw] to give us a chance.”

Emily Diaz outruns a defender and breaks toward the goal. Photo by Bill Landon

The Mad Dogs struggled to gain possession and were pressured early behind Marauders draw wins, but still managed to put away three goals before Bay Shore got on the board. Juniors Sophie Alois and Jennifer Barry did all the work in that space, with Alois scoring twice, her second, off a flick from Barry for the 3-0 advantage, and Barry scored unassisted for the 2-0 lead.

As was the case throughout the game, Bay Shore was quick to answer, scoring two goals in just over a minute, and tied the game twice in the first half, at 5-5 and 7-7, which ended the scoring for the first half. Barry, who had a hat trick and added two assists in the opening 25 minutes, said she took her coach’s words to heart.

“Our coaches tell us before every game that you need to play every game as if it’s your biggest game [of the season],” she said. “We did a good job at settling down, spreading out [our offense] and if you have confidence in yourself and your play, then everything else will fall into place.”

Jennifer Barry draws a crowd as she pushes her way up the middle of the zone. Photo by Bill Landon

Youth and experience served up scores in the second half for Middle Country. Seventh-grader Kate Timarky, who had an assist in the first half, scored twice in 30 seconds to help her team regain the lead. Barry found Diaz, a senior, on a cut to the cage to score what would end up being the game-winning goal. She added two more thereafter to Bay Shore’s one to give the game its final score.

“We expected them to be better than what their records told us, our coaches are always good about informing us about other teams,” Diaz said. “We’ve been struggling at the draw control lately, but every game it gets a little bit better — we work on it in practice every day.”

Dolson said despite a less than ideal draw control performance, she said she was pleased with other aspects of her team’s play.

“[We did a good job of] holding the ball there at the end, [because] we’ve struggled keeping possession in the past, but we passed better,” she said. “They were more coachable, and I thought we handled the pressure a lot better.”

Middle Country improves to 7-2 and will be back in action April 27, when the Mad Dogs travel to Patchogue-Medford for a 4 p.m. contest.

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Newfield senior Emily Diaz sends the ball to the box. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Newfield’s girls soccer team is sharing the wealth.

Five Wolverines scored and four added assists in a 6-0 shutout of Copiague Sept. 25. Despite putting the game out of reach early, Newfield’s athletes were quick to point to missed opportunities.

“We need to finish the ball in front of the net more, but we had a lot of opportunities,” senior center back Taylor Regensburger said. “Having different opportunities gives us momentum going into the next game.”

Newfield sophomore Sierra Rosario sends the ball to her feet. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Senior midfielder Emily Diaz put the Wolverines on the board early, and midfielders freshman Nicole Niculescu and sophomore Karlie Martin also found the corners of the goal for a 3-0 halftime lead.

Despite the lead, Newfield fell victim to offside calls that halted breakaway opportunities.

“Credit to Copiague because they’re well-coached,” Newfield head coach Domenik Veraldi said. “Those offside traps aren’t us being more offside as them knowing exactly what they’re doing. It’s a lot of credit to Copiague and how much work they put into using that strategy to their advantage.”

Regensburger, Diaz and junior forward Kaitlyn Drennan tallied the second-half scores, but no one could take their eyes off sophomore center midfielder Sierra Rosario, who bounced up and down the field frequently unmarked despite Copiague screaming for coverage with each toss or send-in.

“I think everyone contributed to the game and did their own thing, but as a team we still worked well,” Rosario said. “We kept possession, which is something we’re working on, and we’re building that possession-based game by not just looking for the long pass.”

Verladi said he is also seeing the possession game develop.

“We want to keep the ball on the floor, we want to do a lot of off-the-ball movement, we want to work the ball to everybody,” he said. “We were a little inconsistent, but there’s steps in the right direction.”

The coach said he thinks his team has been overlooked after the Wolverines made it to the Class AA quarterfinals last season.

Newfield sophomore Karlie Martin battles for the ball at midfield. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“I think we were a little underestimated heading in,” he said. “Last year we ended in a good spot and graduated several seniors, so I think people thought we had a young team and it won’t be the same team.”

With the win the Wolverines are now 4-2 at the halfway point in the season, dropping games to Half Hollow Hills East and Smithtown West, the team that knocked out Newfield in the postseason last year.

“Last year boosted our program’s confidence, so this year we’re looking to take that even further,” Rosario said.

Regensburger said she sees now what she may not have seen heading into the season.

“I didn’t think we’d be better than last year, but since we’ve come back and started playing, I think we can do even better and go farther in the playoffs,” she said. “We have a lot of strong young players.”

Veraldi said the next two weeks will be telling as to where his team will ultimately fall in the standings, but said the objective remains the same: get to the playoffs.

“They have acute senses,” he said of his Wolverines. “It looks like they want the ball, and they have a plan once they get the ball. They were able to move it in a fashion where they wanted to generate some offense, and we’re going to keep powering through.”

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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By Bill Landon

Behind Centereach junior Cassidy Treanor’s 13 points, the Cougars held off a third-quarter charge by Newfield to defeat their crosstown rival 37-24 on their own court Tuesday.

Newfield’s Maria Daume races to the basket. Photo by Bill Landon
Newfield’s Maria Daume races to the basket. Photo by Bill Landon

Centereach broke out to an early lead, 12-5, as Treanor led her team in the opening quarter by scoring a pair of field goals and a three-pointer at the buzzer.

The Cougars controlled the tempo of the game early as senior Katrina Gangji dominated the boards with 11 rebounds on the evening.

The Wolverines fought back and managed to close within six points, mainly due to senior Maria Daume’s two field goals and sophomore Emily Diaz’s three-pointer with 4:55 left in the second period, but the team still couldn’t come any closer than that until the third quarter.

Diaz said her team tries to forget what has happened in the past and only focus on fixing their mistakes. “At the half, coach told us we had to mark up better, hustle back and finish on our shots,” she said. “But it’s always fun playing against them because we’re all good friends.”

Centereach sophomore Erin Tuomey also made her presence known down low with an impressive rebounding performance under the boards.

“Our team had good communication,” she said. “Everyone was talking and I think we were getting in their heads.”

Trailing 20-12 opening the second half, Newfield abandoned its zone defense and went man-to-man, which caught Centereach off guard.

“It’s pretty tough,” Newfield senior Muariana Milano said of the crosstown competition. “People talk about it so much, but it’s a rivalry — everybody knows each other. We usually play zone, but coach told us to get up in their face and we’re not used to playing like that.”

The Wolverines’ swarming defense turned the tables as Centereach struggled for open looks, forcing them to shoot from outside.

Centereach’s Cassidy Treanor drives the baseline. Photo by Bill Landon
Centereach’s Cassidy Treanor drives the baseline. Photo by Bill Landon

“We cut it to four points near the end of the third quarter, but then I think we lost a little energy,” Newfield head coach Jamie Santiago said. “We were dead tired going man-to-man the whole time to try to get back in the game.”

Newfield clawed back from another deficit to trail 29-22 to open the final quarter, but didn’t come any closer the rest of the way.

“Our team tends to play to the other team’s speed, and when that happens, the coach always tells us to slow down,” Treanor said. “Coach told us at the half that we play our best when we play our game, and that’s when you get the win.”

Centereach made an adjustment in the final eight minutes of play, and was able to hold Newfield to just two pints as a result, while Gangji, Treanor and senior Erica Medina combined for eight points to put the game away.

“Defensively, we played very, very well in the first half,” Santiago said. “If we could have made a couple of easy layups and a few free throws, the score would’ve been a little closer.”

Centereach head coach James Steigele said the crosstown rivalry is important.

“It’s always an important game, because both teams come out to play and they play hard,” the coach said. “It’s always a nail-biter.”

With the win, Centereach improves to 6-4 in League III, while Newfield falls to 2-8. With four games remaining in regular-season play, the Cougars are back in action Friday night when they hit the road to take on Huntington at 6:15 p.m. The Wolverines host West Islip on Thursday, Jan. 28, with a 5:45 p.m. tipoff scheduled.

By Bill Landon

Huntington led from the opening tipoff and never looked back, as the visiting Blue Devils held Newfield to just 13 points in a 59-13 victory in girls’ basketball action Tuesday night.

Huntington moved the ball effortlessly and controlled the tempo of the game for all 32 minutes, while the Wolverines had difficulty clearing the ball, and struggled to find a rhythm and the rim. The Blue Devils’ defense was overwhelming in the second half, where the team scored 24 unanswered points in the third quarter while holding the Wolverines scoreless.

“They’re a team that’s strong — they work very hard and their effort was nonstop,” said Newfield assistant coach Mike Weaver. “We warned our team at halftime that you have to be prepared, because [Huntington] is not going to give up, and that’s the reason the margin was what it was.”

Huntington head coach Michael Kaplan rested his starters for the final eight minutes of play as the Blue Devils coasted to victory and extended their winning streak to five games. Kaplan said the goal for his team in the game was for every player to get better and not turn the ball over.

“From a defensive standpoint, I thought we played great — we did a good job under the boards,” Kaplan said. “We’ll have to work on our rebounding and limit our offensive turnovers, but this game was a confidence builder.”

Topping the scoreboard for Huntington was sophomore guard Alex Heuwetter with 14 points, followed by junior guard Anna Gulizio with nine.

Gulizio said her team had good reads on the floor and good communication.

“Yes, we did well scoring-wise, but we played much better as a team in the second half,” Gulizio said.

Blue Devils sophomore guard Katie Seccafico, who tallied six points in the contest, agreed with Gulizio that her team was a little flat for the first 16 minutes.

“In that first and second quarter, we weren’t coming together on defense,” Seccafico said. “Coach told us we needed to work harder even though we were winning.”

Huntington junior guard Emma Petrizzi echoed her teammate’s assessment of the performance in the final two quarters.

“We played hard and we never let up,” she said. “We were able to hold the score so low.”

Huntington senior guard and forward Brooke Baade finished with eight points, senior guard Katie Reilly netted seven and Seccafico and senior guard and forward Taylor Moreno rounded out the score by banking six each.

Newfield senior guards Maria Daume and Muariana Milano, and senior forward Kelsey Larkin finished with four points apiece, while sophomore forward Emily Diaz completed the scoring with a free-throw point.

With the win, Huntington improves to 5-1 in League III and 7-2 overall, while Newfield falls to 1-5, and 2-7.

Both teams are back in action Friday as Huntington hosts Smithtown East at 5:45 p.m., while Newfield travels to North Babylon for a 4 p.m. game.