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Hannah Dorney

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By Bill Landon

Comsewogue almost called it a comeback. The girls lacrosse team trimmed a four-goal deficit to one in the final minutes of a first-round Class B playoff game against visiting East Islip May 18, and despite winning possession on the final draw with 20 seconds left, the Warriors failed to find the net, falling 9-8.

“We have awesome players with amazing speed — our seniors Hannah [Dorney] and Brianna [Blatter] stepped up, they played a hell of a game,” Comsewogue head coach Jaqueline Wilkom said. “We had to win that draw and push it down toward the net at the end, but unfortunately the game didn’t end in our favor.”

Dorney, a University of Notre Dame-bound senior, won possession and Comsewogue called timeout with 20 seconds on the clock. With time for one last shot, the Warriors turned the ball over and the Redmen recovered and let the clock run down.

“We’re very young — we have five middle-schoolers and only four seniors,” Dorney said. “We had two key players out for most of the year, so for a while we were a little lost.”

The senior, who came into the game second among Suffolk County scorers with 85 points, four behind Northport’s Olivia Carner, found the net four times and assisted on a goal in her final Comsewogue lacrosse game. She finished the first half with a hat trick, scoring twice on penalty shots and once off an assist from junior attack Julia Fernandes. Her third goal closed the gap to one, 4-3, and even with No. 5-seeded East Islip countering with two goals in just over a minute’s time, No. 4 Comsewogue came back to keep the deficit the same, with the Warriors down 6-5 at the halftime break.

After the Redmen tallied two more scores to start the second, a Comsewogue penalty put the Warriors at even more of a disadvantage, as East Islip capitalized on the opportunity to go up 9-5. Sophomore Olivia Fantigrossi scored her second goal, freshman Nelida Watson assisted Fernandes’ second and Dorney scored on another penalty shot to give the game its final score with 29 seconds left.

“We pump each other up from the sidelines, and our bonding in practice is what helped us get this far,” Dorney said. “We’re a family.”

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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.

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Mairead Micheline moves the ball into the circle amid a pack of defenders. Photo by Desirée Keegan

By Desirée Keegan

For Paloma Blatter, confirmation counts.

Paloma Blatter dribbles the ball up the field. Photo by Desirée Keegan

With seven minutes remaining in a 0-0 game against Patchogue-Medford, the Comsewogue field hockey sophomore scored on a scrum in front of the cage to win it, in an away game for the Warriors Sept. 26.

“It felt great personally to know you won it for your team, but getting the pats on the back from your teammates is the best approval you could ever get,” the midfielder said. “There’s nothing more important than putting it all on the line for your team.”

Comsewogue had some chances in the first half, but the team came up empty on several corner attempts. Sophomore defender Olivia Fantigrossi said the team is working on that aspect of its game but is still struggling with communication and obstruction calls. She said she was impressed though with her team’s grit.

“Going into the circle we have hard hits and good accuracy,” she said. “I think we were also successful blocking hits and sending them off the sideline to prevent the other team from getting a goal.”

Comsewogue head coach Jacqueline Wilkom said Fantigrossi flies all over the field when needed.

“She was out on every ball,” she said.

Her captain, senior midfielder Hannah Dorney, also wowed the coach.

Hannah Dorney battles for the ball at midfield. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“Hannah Dorney is a great athlete and really helped with leading the field,” Wilkom said. “She led the pep talk at halftime and they came out with a lot more intensity and they wanted to play.”

After losing nine seniors and the entire defensive unit to graduation after last season, Dorney said she too likes what she’s seeing from the young squad.

“We passed a lot better than we usually do,” she said. “We tend to get caught dribbling from one end of the field to the other, but today we worked the ball around more and from one side of the field to the other. We talked more in the second half, looked up, saw the options and we had the opportunities, we just weren’t finishing. We can’t let the ball slip past us as much.”

Wilkom said the team works hard and puts in the effort to improve. She said the girls are frequently seen dancing around the locker room before games, but she just hopes that energy can carry onto the field.

Olivia Fantigrossi gets in front to steal a Patchogue-Medford pass. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“They pump each other up and they want to play,” she said. “And I think that’s important. They want to be a team to be reckoned with and our motto ‘surrender the me for the we’ will help us do that. We need all 11 players working together as a unit to get that win.”

Blatter said she agreed that motivation needs to be there from whistle to whistle.

“We always find a way to come together as a team, even in our losses,” she said. “We’re always together and lifting each other up, especially this season, but we need to work on stepping onto the field and putting everything in it from the minute the timer starts to the minute it ends. If we can come out like we know we can in the beginning we’ll be a tough team to beat this year.”

Wilkom said the rise in the standings has added extra incentive — especially after going from a 3-11 team last year, to now currently boasting a 7-2 Division I record.

“We went from being in the 20s to fifth in the standings,” she said. “That’s a big deal for us — to be a team that people want to come out and beat.”

Harborfields' Grace Zagaja hugs coaches Mary Santonmauro and Kerri McGinty following the win. Photo by Desirée Keegan

By Desirée Keegan

For the first time in four years, the Tornadoes are touching down on semifinal turf.

With a 14-7 win over Comsewogue May 23, the No. 4 Harborfields girls’ lacrosse team advances to take on No. 1 Eastport-South Manor May 25 at 4 p.m.

Harborfields’ Falyn Dwyer shoots. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“The whole season we’ve had a team first mentality,” senior Falyn Dwyer said. “We win as a team, we lose as a team. We knew it was a do or die situation, so we really picked up the intensity.”

That passion showed. In the first 10 minutes, Harborfields was already up 4-0. At the 13:41 mark, Dwyer scored her hat trick goal. Senior Katherine Alnwick followed her up with back-to-back goals less than a minute apart, and soon the Tornadoes were ahead 7-0.

“Last time we faced them we had a lot of trouble scoring, so we worked on a lot of offenses to capitalize on finding the open girl,” Dwyer said. “A lot of the time [my teammates] clear out for me if I have the ball and they know I have a lane. They do a good job of letting me use my speed. We moved the ball a lot better than we have in the past and we put our plays in well.”

Comsewogue junior Hannah Dorney found the back of the net with 9:13 left in the first half to put the Warriors on the board, freshman Olivia Fantigrossi set up eighth-grader Ava Fernandes off a free position and Dorney scored again off an assist from senior Julia Tuohy to cut the lead to 8-3 at the end of the first half.

Comsewogue’s Hannah Dorney moves the ball across the field. Photo by Desirée Keegan

The successive goal scoring seemed to work well for the Tornadoes, and sophomore Hallie Simkins kept it going with back-to-back goals to open the second half.

“Coming off the draw strong really helps us get the momentum going, and getting a few goals boosted our confidence,” she said. “It’s great that we even got here, so the fact that I got to put a few goals in the back of the net just makes it an even more amazing feeling.”

Harborfields head coach Kerri McGinty also thought her team was resilient from start to finish.

“We had a mind-set when we stepped out on the field today and it carried through,” she said. “We took smart shots, we finished, we had some huge defensive stops that led to goals — so it was that culmination of everything happening together. All of the girls were playing for each other. That’s the best thing you can ask for a team.”

Harborfields’ Hallie Simkins crashes into Comsewogue’s Hannah Dorney as she carries the ball into the Warriors’ zone. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Senior Grace Zagaja’s turnover led to her second goal of the game, and junior goalkeeper Erin Tucker made half of her eight saves in the game’s final minutes to halt the Warriors’ threat. Zagaja and senior Kailey Broderick were also key to grabbing ground balls that gave the Tornadoes extra possessions, which led to even more goals in the final minutes.

Dwyer finished with four goals, Broderick had two goals and two assists and Alnwick added two goals and an assist.

“There was a lot of hustle and a lot of heart,” Dwyer said. “Now we have one day to prepare, so we have to put in a lot of work tomorrow.”

Simkins said if the team plays like it did against Comsewogue, they’ll be successful in the next round.

“It was a good team win — we put all the pieces together,” she said. “It’s nice when everyone shows up, and I’m confident in the way we play when that happens. Getting this first-round win is a major barrier we finally climbed over.”

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Nora Gabel scores two points on a putback. Photo by Desirée Keegan

The Comsewogue girls’ basketball team dropped its second-to-last game of the season to Sayville Feb. 7, 51-44, on senior night, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort from the Warriors.

Sam Collins prepares to take a shot from beyond the arc. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“I think we came out really strong, got them a little nervous — on their heels a little bit,” senior Sam Collins said.

That’s because she was swishing shot after shot from beyond the arc. Collins scored all nine of her team’s first-quarter points on 3-pointers, and added another at the start of the second.

“I work so hard on it and when I get an open shot I’m happy to take it,” she said. “It helps my teammates and it’s hard to contest a shot like that.”

Her coach likes what he’s seen from his four-year starter as well. Collins has racked up 43 3-pointers this season.

“She makes a living out there,” Comsewogue head coach Joe Caltagirone said. “She can post up too, but with the 1-3-1 defense that [Sayville plays] it was suited for her to stay out on the wing and take the open shots when she had them.”

The game, which was Comsewogue’s first home loss of the season, was tight through most of the first half. Collins’ fourth trey countered a Sayville 3-pointer, and junior Nora Gabel scored a field goal that put her team out front 14-11, but Sayville always had an answer, or two, and by the end of the first half Sayville had a 24-18 advantage.

Sayville’s defense intercepted multiple passes and won its fair share of battles on the boards, but junior Hannah Dorney grabbed multiple rebounds for Comsewogue, and forced a few turnovers herself.

Hannah Dorney carries the ball into Sayville’s zone after forcing a turnover. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“We softened their defense, we broke it down pretty good and got some good looks, but our shots didn’t fall,” Caltagirone said. “Hannah has been a great addition off the lacrosse team. We had to play their style with the aggressiveness and working baseline to baseline, which she helped with. I was pleased with their effort.”

Heading into the halftime break, Collins said her team talked about ways to make sure the game didn’t slip away.

“We wanted to move the ball a lot more to make them move because they’re eventually going to get tired,” she said. “If we take the first available shot, it’s easy for them to play defense, but if we wait the whole shot clock and get the best shot possible, they can’t do anything about it.”

At first, it worked. Senior Megan Turner drew a foul and sank both of her free throws, Gabel added a 3-pointer and Dorney scored a field goal to regain the lead for Comsewogue, 25-24. Despite the team’s best efforts, Sayville always had a response. Gabel and junior Georgia Alexiou added four points each in the third, but the Warriors fell behind 45-41. and that was the closest they would get.

“As the game progressed we lost it a little bit, then we came back, but there wasn’t enough time on the clock,” Collins said. “We communicate well, we didn’t give them easy baskets, we made them work for it, and we moved the ball.”

Sofia Colocho drives to the basket. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Caltagirone honored Collins, Turner, Brittany DeLeva, Lauren Gray and Christiany Pizarro before the game as part of the senior night festivities.

“It’s bittersweet — I’ll miss them,” the head coach said. “Some are three- and four-year players I’ve been coaching for a while and they mean a lot to the program. I’m happy for them, but I’m sad to lose them.”

Collins was also emotional.

“I never thought this day would come,” she said. “I wish we could’ve gotten the win, but I know we played our best, and that’s enough for me.”

She said despite the loss the energy is high heading into the postseason, and Caltagirone said he believes in the squad’s ability, noting how this season compared to last. The Warriors are winning the close games and aren’t letting teams back into games, something he said is big for the team.

“They do the hard work,” he said. “I’m pretty confident that we can play with anybody. We’ve shown we can play with anybody.”

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.”

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Comsewogue's Sarah McKoy and Seaver Lipshie double-team a Deer Park player on the way to the Warriors' 17-7 win on April 27. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Comsewogue hammered out a 17-7 victory on Monday in a girls’ lacrosse matchup against Deer Park, dominating the home team and scoring seven unanswered goals in a nine-minute span alone.

Hannah Dorney, a Comsewogue midfielder, crosses into Deer Park's zone on her way to a double hat trick and the Warriors' 17-7 win on April 27. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Hannah Dorney, a Comsewogue midfielder, crosses into Deer Park’s zone on her way to a double hat trick and the Warriors’ 17-7 win on April 27. Photo by Desirée Keegan

With the win, the Warriors improved to 9-3 overall, with an 8-3 mark in Division II.

Comsewogue midfielder Jamie Fischer, a sophomore, won the opening draw and with the game not even two minutes old, freshman midfielder Hannah Dorney fired a shot straight up the center for the first goal. Minutes later, Dorney did it again. The score 2-1 after a Deer Park goal, the Warriors regained possession off a Deer Park save and senior attack Haley Lochren’s shot hit its mark.

Dorney bounced another shot in halfway through the first for a hat trick, then made it 5-1 with an over-the-shoulder shot into the left side of the goal before Deer Park managed to get on the scoreboard again. The Falcons scored again with 10:10 left in the half to bring it to 5-3.

Comsewogue rotated midfielders at the draw and continued to win the ball, keeping it away from the competition. Dorney scored her fifth goal of the game at 9:19, blazing the trail for the team to light up the scoreboard six more times, ending with a Fischer buzzer-beater.

Jamie Fischer, a Comsewogue midfielder, collides with a Deer Park player on the first draw of a game the Warriors' won 17-7 on April 27. Fischer scored a hat trick in the match. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Jamie Fischer, a Comsewogue midfielder, collides with a Deer Park player on the first draw of a game the Warriors’ won 17-7 on April 27. Fischer scored a hat trick in the match. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“Today we definitely did great on the draw,” Fischer said. “I think that’s so important because we definitely need to keep possession.”

Lochren opened the second half with two straight goals, the first assisted by sophomore Julia Tuohy. After a Deer Park goal brought the score to 14-4, Tuohy scored a goal of her own off a play that began with Fischer winning the draw and carrying it down the field. Fischer passed to senior midfielder Seaver Lipshie at centerfield, who lobbed the ball over to Tuohy. The sophomore stuffed it into the left side of the goal.

The teams got shots past the keepers a few more times, to give the game its final 17-7 score.

Dorney finished the game with six goals and an assist; Lochren and Fischer each added a hat trick; and Tuohy tacked on two goals and four assists. The win was a team effort, with three other players adding a goal apiece and three more finishing with an assist.

Comsewogue's Julia Tuohy carries the ball into Deer Park's zone on the road to the Warriors' 17-7 win on April 27. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Comsewogue’s Julia Tuohy carries the ball into Deer Park’s zone on the road to the Warriors’ 17-7 win on April 27. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“We have a lot of strong players,” Fischer said. “It’s not just one player, two players; we’re a team and we all work well together and we’re all strong together.”

The sophomore said the girls are “becoming less selfish.”

Comsewogue head coach James Fernandes agreed his team has a nice balance on offense and defense in terms of skill sets, and with a handful of underclassmen on the roster, he’s hoping their help will put the Warriors in a good position to make the playoffs.

“We have a very coachable group — the girls have done a great job and we’re building every week,” he said. “The younger girls are like sparkplugs for us. They do everything; they’re all over the place and it’s awesome. We have a seventh-grader out there and the girls, they thrive off her. When she makes a play, they love it.”

The team has three games left. First, the Warriors will travel to Shoreham-Wading River Friday for a game at 4 p.m., then will finish up the season hosting Islip and Miller Place. Fernandes said the team needs to win two out of the three, and Fischer thinks her team has what it takes.

“Our record is so much better than last year,” she said of the team’s 4-10 overall record last season. “We hope we’ll get into playoffs and I think we will.”

While Dorney thinks the team started off the season a little shaky, the Warriors have outscored their opponents by an average of almost 10 goals in the last three games, and will use that momentum to propel them into the end of the league schedule.

“Now, we realize that we’re good enough to hang with the teams that are usually at the top,” Dorney said. “It’s a good win to come up with, and now we have a big game Friday that we have to get ready for, and I think that we’ll come together.”