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Emma DeGennaro

Warriors win their third of six one-goal games this season

Huntington's Tara Wilson and Comsewogue's Hannah Dorney fight for possession. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Despite four yellow cards that forced Comsewogue to play a man down in the final minutes of the game, the Warriors were able to hold on to a 9-8 win over the Huntington girls’ lacrosse team in a must-win match to keep their playoff hopes alive.

“We’re [5-6 in Division II], but our record doesn’t show how good we can play,” Comsewogue sophomore Hannah Dorney said. “We’ve had [six] one-goal games and we knew this game would be close.”

Huntington broke the ice two minutes in when senior attack Emma DeGennaro found the cage unassisted, but Comsewogue’s Dorney dished the ball to junior midfielder Jamie Fischer on a cross, and she too buried her shot to tie the game minutes later.

Comewogue's Julia Tuohy cuts upfield. Photo by Bill Landon
Comewogue’s Julia Tuohy cuts upfield. Photo by Bill Landon

At the 12-minute mark, freshman attack Julia Fernandes scored next to put the Warriors ahead 2-1, but the advantage continued to change sides. The Blue Devils put away the next two goals, with junior midfielder Ryann Gaffney scoring first, and DeGennaro following with her second goal of the game, to put her team ahead 3-2. Seconds after, Dorney got the call and hit her mark to again even the score.

With 18 seconds remaining in the first half, junior attack Julia Tuohy took matters into her own hands and darted from behind the net, firing a shot that put the Warriors out front 4-3 heading into the halftime break.

Tuohy said her team lost a tough game two years ago to Huntington, a 15-1 loss, and were thirsty for revenge.

“The game was close — another one-goal game for us — but this time, we won,” she said of her team that has now been a part of six one-goal games this season. “We were a little nervous in the first half, but after our coaches talked to us at halftime, we really picked it up, got it into gear.”

DeGennaro recorded her hat trick goal a minute into the second half with a solo shot that retied the game.

“Coming into it we knew they were going to be close to us, and we expected a good matchup,” DeGennaro said. “It was a big game — we played hard, we played well on defense, and we’ve been working on that in practice.”

Three minutes later, after an unintended deflection from one of its defensive players, the ball squeezed past the Huntington goalkeeper Allison Berejka to hand Comsewogue a 5-4 lead.

Again, Huntington had an answer though, as DeGennaro split the pipes, to even the score at the 22:15 mark.

After receiving its second yellow card, Comsewogue struggled to stay at full strength, but were able to retake the lead when Tuohy scored, to edge ahead 6-5 with 15 minutes left.

Comsewogue's Jamie Fischer and Huntington's Ryann Gaffney fight for possession at the draw. Photo by Bill Landon
Comsewogue’s Jamie Fischer and Huntington’s Ryann Gaffney fight for possession at the draw. Photo by Bill Landon

To continue the back-and-forth battle, Huntington hit the scoreboard next with two unanswered goals. First, senior attack and midfielder Katie Reilly served one up to sophomore midfielder Emma Greenhill, who drove her shot home, and Reilly, with her third assist of the afternoon, followed with a pass to Gaffney, who scored the goal that gave her team the lead, again.

“Coming in I knew it was going to be an important game,” Gaffney said. “We stepped up to the plate and I’m proud of how our team played. We have to work on our transition, [but] I thought our defense played strong and I thought we played a great game.”

The Warriors countered with three successive scores for a 9-7 advantage with just under 10 minutes left, and A third yellow card against Comsewogue gave Huntington a chance to come back, but the team struggled to capitalize as the clock wound down to six minutes.

Comsewogue head coach Jim Fernandes drew his team’s fourth yellow card, which by rule left his team down a player the rest of the way.

“We overcame not only the other team, but [we overcame] the officials in my opinion,” he said. “I got carded and I asked them to play for me and pull this thing out, and they did.”

Huntington took advantage of the extra player on the field and Reilly erased the insurance goal when her shot split the pipes, but Comsewogue played keep away in the final two minutes, and held on to improve to 5-6 in Division II with three conference games left to play.

Huntington slipped 4-7 with four league games left on its schedule.

“We beat some of the teams that beat them,” Huntington head coach Jessica Maggio said. “We were unsure of how the matchup would be, but we had some throw aways and mistakes. We’re young and we’re dealing with injuries, [but] I thought it was pretty even, as it was a one-goal game the whole way.”

The Huntington field hockey team will look to continue its forward momentum in the fall, but the Blue Devils have their work cut out for them after losing many of their top players to graduation.

Irina DeSimone maintains possession of the ball in a game against Comsewogue last season. File photo by Bill Landon
Irina DeSimone maintains possession of the ball in a game against Comsewogue last season. File photo by Bill Landon

Fortunately, last season’s squad boasted skilled underclassmen who will be counted on now more than ever.

Huntington is coming off a 2014 campaign that saw the Blue Devils compile an overall record of 9-8, including a sudden victory upset over Northport in the Suffolk County Division I playoffs.

Among the seniors the Blue Devils are losing are All-County players Darya DeSimone and Tara Byrnes, All-Conference athletes Cassidie Giammarino and Anna Tesoriero, All-Division mention Kacie Rubert and All-Tournament members Olivia Castillo and Ellyn Byrnes.

The Blue Devils will be hard pressed to replace the production of forward Ellyn Byrnes (nine goals and two assists) and goalkeeper Tara Byrnes (69 saves and six shutouts), as well as the other seniors the team lost to graduation.

Huntington’s offense will be led by Irina DeSimone, who earned honorable mention All-County honors last fall after notching five goals and five assists at forward link.

Emma DeGennaro returns as a speedy and powerful presence on defense, with the ability to cover a lot of field area and recover the ball. Kelly Palladino (defense), Sarah Fernandez (link-midfielder) and Elizabeth Berejka (link/defense) also played prominent roles on last year’s team and will be returning as veterans.

Meghan Plant, Michaela Carnesi, Grace Curran, Jessica-Rose Greene and goalie Cara Sorrentino are also coming back to try and strengthen the lineup.

Huntington is tentatively scheduled to scrimmage at Sachem North and Lindenhurst on Sept. 2 and 4 before traveling to Walt Whitman on Saturday, Sept. 5, at 9:30 a.m. for a nonleague game.

The Blue Devils’ league opener is set for Wednesday, Sept. 9, at 4:30 p.m. at Smithtown East. A series of home and away league games with North Babylon, Copiague, East Islip, Riverhead, Newfield and West Babylon will follow.