By Bill Landon
Comsewogue senior Hannah Dorney recalled the first time her field hockey team played Bay Shore, losing a close 2-1 game back on Sept. 13.
“We went into the game today thinking about last time, and just how devastating that loss was,” Dorney said. “It was a long bus ride home, and [the whole time] you’re thinking, ‘What could we have done better?’”
This time, the No. 9-seeded Warriors had the offense to support a solid defense, to pull away with a 3-2 win over No. 8 Bay Shore in the first round of the Class A playoffs Oct. 17.
Sophomore Kayleigh Mimnaugh had two goals in the win, scoring first on a flick pass from junior Sophia Azzara and the game-winner on a player-down opportunity and a feed from senior Gabriella Ventura.
With the teams tied 1-1 heading into halftime after her first tally, she said a pep talk from head coach Jacqueline Wilkom got her juices flowing.
“Our halftime speech from the coach really pumped us up, and I think that we just worked harder overall in that second half,” Mimnaugh said. “We played well defensively.”
Dorney took working harder to heart, and opened the second half with a takeaway, outrunning defenders behind her as she carried the ball from the 35-yard line to the front of the cage for a solo shot and a 2-1 advantage.
Comsewogue had trouble capitalizing on its opportunities though, as Bay Shore committed six fouls in the striking circle, leading to six consecutive penalty corner shots from which the Warriors came away empty.
Being a player down for a majority of the second half — 20 minutes — defense was the name of the game for Comsewogue, but Bay Shore finally broke through, retying the game with 15:38 left to play.
Azzara said she was somewhat surprised with how her team weathered the storm in the second half.
“Honestly, I didn’t think we’d come out here and do this well against them,” she said. “But I knew we had it in us — we work really well together and we’re very close, so I think that helped us.”
Comsewogue, on a five-game winning streak, improves to 12-3 and advances to face No. 1 undefeated Ward Melville on the road Friday, Oct. 20 at 2:30 p.m.
“We have a talented group of girls — they’re fantastic athletes, and it’s just a matter of them coming out and giving it all that they have,” Wilkom said. “And so long as we play our game, I don’t think that there’s any team we can’t beat.”
For the Warriors, this bus ride home will be different.