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Hannah Lorenzen

Shannon Brazier scores. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Undefeated Ward Melville has a target on its back, and the girls lacrosse team’s 17-4 crushing of Smithtown West May 8 only made it larger.

Hannah Lorenzen prepares to make a pass to the front of the cage. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“Everyone is out to get us,” Ward Melville head coach Kerri Kilkenny said. “I think this was probably one of our best games that we’ve played this season — connecting every pass, strong in transition, looking for each other. They were looking one step ahead. We knew where everyone was going to be and a good majority of our goals were assisted, which shows how well we’ve jelled and come together as a team.”

Senior Hannah Lorenzen scored three of the first five goals for the Patriots, who continued to win draw after draw to gain crucial time of possession against the No. 3 Bulls.

“They just passed to me and I was able to finish,” Lorenzen said. “I think the draw is a big part of it. We get possession and it leads to more opportunities to score.”

Sophomore goalkeeper Samantha Tarpey’s saves in the first half also played a large role in the team’s success.

“Making those saves keeps me going and my confidence up,” she said. “It keeps team morale high.”

As the team dominated through the final minutes of the first half, three other Patriots got on the board, and Lorenzen added her fourth goal of the game, before Smithtown West scored three straight.

Jillian Becker moves the ball through defenders. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Ward Melville sophomore Alexis Reinhardt closed out the half with the final goal to put her team up 10-3.

“We felt it was going to be a bit of a tougher matchup,” Kilkenny said. “I’m not downplaying my kids’ skills at all, because I feel when they play together they’re unstoppable. We controlled every step of this game, and I’m proud of them for that.”

With 13 players on the score sheet — Reinhardt, Shannon Berry and Shannon Brazier scoring two goals each — the chemistry between the team that put up 17 goals and 10 assists seems unmatched.

“We don’t have a few key players — our team is deep. We can all score; we can all play,” Lorenzen said. “We worked a lot on clearing and having people drive through and on our feeds off the draw. We moved the ball well in practice.”

Shannon Berry shoots. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Lorenzen is a part of six sets of sisters on the team, but to the senior, the entire team is her family.

“I think having those bonds and those connections help — we trust each other and believe in each other and the sisterly intuition is there,” she said. “But we all feel like sisters.”

Kilkenny said her team is right where it needs to be, and with its 15th straight win, she’s excited to see where the Patriots go.

“You don’t want to peak too soon, but we’re continuing that high level of play— the timing of this game is great,” she said. “We’re certainly enjoying the ride, but we keep ourselves down to Earth. They need to play each game like it could be their last.”

Lorenzen doesn’t see the season ending any time soon.

“We feel we have a little bit of an edge,” she said. “We might have a target on our back, but we can take the competition.”

Ward Melville's Kerry McKeever moves into Smithtown East's zone. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Ward Melville jumped out to a five-goal lead early in the first half, and even after the Smithtown East girls’ lacrosse team battled back to trail by two, the Patriots fired back, securing a 17-11 victory to remain undefeated in Division I April 4.

Junior midfielder Shannon Brazier and teammate Kerry McKeever rattled off two early goals, while senior attack Kaitlin Thornton added one of her own for a 5-0 lead just six minutes in.

Smithtown East’s Isabella Costa maintains possession. Photo by Bill Landon

Smithtown East sophomore attack Isabella Costa broke the ice for the Bulls when her shot found its mark for an unassisted goal seven minutes later.

Ward Melville head coach Kerri Kilkenny said her team had to press the entire game — knowing it had to after escaping the last matchup with a one-goal win.

With 12 minutes left in the first half, McKeever notched her hat trick goal for a 6-1 advantage.

“When we play together like we did at the beginning, we can close it out with a win, but we couldn’t be complacent,” McKeever said. “We worked together, we found the open cutter on transition; having turnovers on the ride starts the attack, so those were really big [because] it got us the ball back on offense.”

Costa teamed up with senior co-captain and attack Julia Smith, as each trailed two goals to trail 7-5 with just over nine minutes before the break.

The Bulls went a man down with four minutes left, but Ward Melville did too less than a minute later to even the teams. The loss didn’t affect the Patriots though, as Brazier scored her third goal, senior attack Kassidy Rogers-Healion buried her penalty shot and junior attack Kerri Thornton dished one off to sophomore Alexis Reinhardt, who put the team out front 10-5.

“Smithtown is definitely a great team — we play well together and we have a really deep bench, so there’s no deviation when we put subs in,” Brazier said. “We’ve all played together since we were young, so we mesh really well together.”

Ward Melville’s Shannon Brazier shoots the ball past Smithtown East goalkeeper Patricia Werker. Photo by Bill Landon

Smithtown East senior co-captain Shannon Kavanagh’s stick spoke next, when a foul shot hit the back of the cage in the opening minute of the second half. But again, the Patriots didn’t let the scoring last for long, and went on another tare, scoring four consecutive goals before Costa countered, to cut the deficit to 14-7.

Smithtown East head coach Ann Naughton critiqued her team’s performance, saying it was below average.

“It’s obviously disappointing, and we’re going to have to learn from it,” she said. “Ward Melville came out and they wanted it more than we did. I always respect them — they’re a really good team so I’m not surprised by them at all.”

With just over nine minutes left, Ward Melville ran the clock before senior attack Hannah Lorenzen scored on a hand off for her fourth goal of the game.

“We know that they’re a good team, so we had to get on their hands when they were shooting so they couldn’t get off a great shot,” Lorenzen said. “And that helps our goalie [Samantha Tarpey], who was a big part of our win today.”

Tarpey had eight saves on the afternoon.

Smithtown East wouldn’t go quietly though, and with time running out found the net four more times.

“They always have potential — they’ve given us a run for our money in the past and I just told the girls don’t allow those quick goals to rattle you,” Kilkenny said. “Sometimes they get a couple of quick ones on you and the team will deflate, but the girls stayed on their game.”

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Taylor Tripptree pushes her way to the rim amid a swarm of Brentwood players. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Kiera Ramaliu hangs on to the ball as she drives to the basket. Photo by Desirée Keegan

A commonly used cliché in sports is that teams always have to “take one game at a time.”

The Patriots head coach Bruce Haller said he thought his team was too focused on senior day ceremonies and the postseason, causing the girls to lose sight of their Feb. 11 matchup against Brentwood. If Ward Melville had won, the Patriots would be sharing a piece of the League I title, would have a higher seed and earn a second-round home playoff game. The 38-33 loss changed everything.

“It shows you that we are certainly not so good that we can just show up and win a game,” he said. “They have to come and be ready to play. We dug ourselves a deep hole, we came back, and the kids deserve a lot of credit for that, but I think it took so much energy to come back that we just didn’t have a lot left at the end of the game.”

Ward Melville fell behind 15-3 by the end of the first quarter, with all the Patriots points coming off of free throws. By halftime, senior Taylor Tripptree, junior Shannon Brazier and sophomore Lauren Hansen helped close the deficit just slightly, to 23-13. Hansen led in scoring with five points.

Hannah Lorenzen maintains possession as she tries to make a pass. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“We started off very slow,” Tripptree said. “We’re so used to playing after school and we have a different routine, so it brought us down. We had a kind of off practice last night and we tried not to let that show today, but they also came out hard, and we weren’t expecting it.”

The team turned it around in the third, with senior Hannah Lorenzen scoring the opening points on a three-pointer, and after Brentwood countered with a three-point shot of its own, Ward Melville went on a 10-0 tear to tie the game. Hansen added a field goal before swishing back-to-back threes, and Brazier scored off a feed from Tripptree to make it 26-26.

“[Coming back] shows that they have the potential and they’re capable of doing it, but they can’t turn it on and off,” Haller said. “They can’t decide to just struggle a little bit or miss a couple of shots and get down on themselves for missing their shots and all of the sudden turn it on later in the game.”

Triptree scored the opening point of the fourth quarter with a free throw at the 6:57 mark that gave the Patriots their first lead of the game, but a Brentwood bucket tied the game again, 29-29.

Lauren Hansen moves past a Brentwood opponent. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“We know not to give up,” Tripptree said. “We have to give 100 percent effort all the time. We are had workers.”

The two teams were knotted at 31 with less than five minutes left. Ward Melville fell behind 36-31, but two Lorenzen free-throws the Patriots within a single possession. Known for her three-point skills, Hansen attempted a shot with less than 30 seconds left, but just missed. The Patriots fouled on several straight Brentwood inbounds passes in an attempt to intercept the pass, but Brentwood was able to put the game away.

“I give Brentwood a lot of credit, they’re a playoff team,” Haller said. “They’re a very, very good team and we took them lightly. This was all on us.”

Shannon Brazier leaps up to the rim for the score. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Despite the loss, the head coach said he thinks his team can go far.

“They’re great kids, they’re very good basketball players and I have confidence that they have the ability to make a deep run in the playoffs,” he said. “But if they come the way they came to play today they’ll be one and done in the playoffs.”

Tripptree said she also has confidence in her team’s ability to turn it around.

“We know we can’t let this bring us down,” she said. “Even if we have a bad practice, we know now we can’t let this bring us down or have it affect our game. We have to bring it — come hard every game — and we know we can pick it back up and put ourselves back in the game no matter how deep the hole is. We have to keep our heads up and expect anything in the playoffs.”

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Lauren Hansen drives around a Commack defender. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

The Patriots are in it to win it.

Taylor Tripptree leaps up to the rim for the score. Photo by Bill Landon

Looking for redemption Feb. 3, the Ward Melville girls’ basketball team outscored Commack at home, 62-47, to remain in contention for a share of the League I title.

The first time the two top-seeded teams faced off, on Jan. 10, Ward Melville led Commack heading into the fourth quarter, but lost the game by four points, 59-55. Senior Taylor Tripptree said she knew her Patriots needed to end the game strong in order to pull away with the win.

“In our last game against them our defense fell short in the fourth quarter,” she said. “So this time around we made sure to stay on them and not give up, because the fourth quarter is Commack’s game.”

And defense was the name of the game.

Four minutes in, the game was tied just 2-2 before Tripptree tripled to take a 5-2 advantage. After sophomore Lauren Hansen hit a three-pointer of her own and senior Kiera Ramaliu also posted a trifecta, Tripptree hit a buzzer-beating field goal to put her team ahead 13-8 at the end of eight minutes.

Kiera Ramaliu at the free-throw line. Photo by Bill Landon

The Patriots’ defense flexed its muscles in the second and third quarter, holding Commack to 6 and 7 points, respectively, while outscoring the Cougars 26-13 over the span.

“They got some shots, but we got the rebounds,” Hansen said.

Leading 39-21 heading into the final quarter, Ward Melville put on the full-court press to not give Commack the quarter that previously led to their demise.

Although Commack held the advantage in the final stanza, Ward Melville also put up big numbers, with the away team outscoring the Patriots 26-23 in the final eight minutes. Sophomore Bre Cohn hit a pair of back-to-back three-pointers, Hansen hit her second trey of the game and added a field goal and free-throw point, Ramaliu swished a field goal and went 4-for-4 from the free-throw line, and Tripptree banked two from the charity stripe to put the game out of reach.

Hansen led Ward Melville with 17 points, Tripptree had 14 and Ramaliu added 11.

“We were winning in the fourth quarter in that first game, but we didn’t play great defense,” Ward Melville head coach Bruce Haller said. “Today, I heard them say, ‘this is the quarter. This is their quarter. This was the quarter where they beat us last time,’ and they all knew it. I didn’t have to emphasize it, so they stepped up their defense.”

Hannah Lorenzen moves through traffic. Photo by Bill Landon

Senior Hannah Lorenzen said her team worked harder every day in practice for the defeat over Commack.

“It feels good that all of our hard work paid off,” she said. “It was our defense and our rebounding — in practice we focused on boxing out and not allowing them to have second and third shots.”

With the win, the Ward Melville and Commack are 11-1 with two games left in the regular season.

“You like to challenge yourself against the best — they’re ranked No. 1 in Suffolk County,” Haller said of Commack. “The kids just stepped up and did what they had to do. They played great defense and I think that was the difference in the game.”

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Lauren Hansen drives to the basket. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Hannah Lorenzen’s shot may not have been falling during warm-ups, but luckily that didn’t carry over into the game. During the first half of her Ward Melville girls’ basketball team’s matchup against Longwood, she was on fire, and it fueled a 57-39 comeback win Jan. 3 that keeps the Patriots atop the League I standings.

The senior scored 14 points in the first two quarters, and sophomore Lauren Hansen finished with a game-high 24 points, 19 of which were scored in the second half, for a balanced and potent offensive performance.

Hannah Lorenzen leaps to the board for a layup. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“I wasn’t sure how it was going to go, but once I started hitting my shots I felt it,” Lorenzen said. “I think our defense wasn’t as great as it usually is. We were a little nervous, frazzled, but once we started playing our game we got back into our flow.”

After missing on all four of her attempts in the first quarter, Hansen opened up the scoring for the second quarter with a layup, reached to bank a layup while being fouled, and completed the three-point play to pull the Patriots closer, 20-14. After a Longwood score, Lorenzen swished a 3-pointer, two free throws and her second 3 to tie the game, 22-22.

She said head coach Bruce Haller told the team coming into the matchup that it needed to be fast and react quickly to play with Longwood.

“They fast break a lot and mark up then instead of when we get back, so we had to adjust to that,” Lorenzen said.

Longwood countered with a 3-point field goal of its own, but Lorenzen banked a layup with eight seconds left and her buzzer-beating third 3-pointer left Ward Melville just behind, 27-26.

“We had to slow down and take a deep breath, relax with our shots and be patient on defense,” Lorenzen said. “We had to play our game.”

Her Patriots did just that.

Senior Taylor Tripptree and Hansen teamed up to tally 14 of the Patriots’ total 16 points in the third quarter. At the end of the eight minutes, the Patriots edged ahead 42-37.

Lauren Hansen maneuvers around a Longwood opponent as she makes her way down the court. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“I think we were hyped up because we wanted to win — we had jitters,” Hansen said of her team’s vibe in the first half, adding that she and the team needed to keep pushing despite missing points and being down. “I persevered, just kept shooting. I think it defines the culture of our team. Sometimes we start slow, but we always pick it up in the second half.”

She wasn’t kidding. Hansen scored 13 of her team’s 16 points in the final quarter, on two 3-pointers, a three-point play and two field goals.

“I think every game, every day we get better together, our chemistry gets better and better and we improve every single game,” she said.

With the win, Ward Melville remains No. 1 in League I, but instead of being in a three-way tie, the team is now tied with just Commack. The Patriots will face the Cougars on the road Jan. 10 at 5:45 p.m.

Tripptree said she was happy to see her team clean up its act against Longwood, but said the rushing and missed layups forced the team out of its comfort zone.

“We had to play at our pace — not let them change our game,” she said. “We didn’t let the bad calls or missed shots affect us. We just can’t be digging ourselves into holes we’re forced to dig out of. We stayed strong and kept each other up, though, and we realized this was our game.”

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Patriots have won all 10 games, with five Division I matches left this season

Kerri Thornton dribbles the ball up the field. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

These Patriots are perfect.

In the Ward Melville field hockey team’s nine straight wins leading up to its matchup against Sachem North Sept. 29, the team has allowed just three goals. In the Patriots’ two games prior, they shut out Smithtown East, 1-0, and Bay Shore 4-0.

So it was no surprise that the Flaming Arrows matchup yielded similar results.

Sachem North (8-3 overall, 6-3 Division I) managed just two shots on goal, and quickly fell behind when senior Kassidy Rogers-Healion rocked the box for a 1-0 lead just 15 seconds into the game. The Flaming Arrows never recovered, and fell 3-0 on their own home turf.

Lexi Reinhardt redirects the ball. Photo by Bill Landon
Lexi Reinhardt redirects the ball. Photo by Bill Landon

Senior goalkeeper Bella Nelin said she had complete confidence in her defense to protect the goal.

“I really trust my [defenders] in front of me, and we all just play our hardest,” she said. “Scoring that first goal in the first minute changed the game, and we controlled the tempo of the game by doing that.”

Nine minutes later, Rogers-Healion’s stick spoke again, when the forward took a crossing pass from junior Kerri Thornton and drove her shot home to put her team out in front 2-0.

Nelin, who had a quiet day in the box, said her team prepares the same way for each game, no matter who they face.

“We don’t underestimate any team that we play — regardless of the skill level,” Nelin said. “If we played them before, if we beat them before, [it doesn’t matter]; so we came out like we do for any other game.”

Sachem North controlled the middle of the field though, which forced Ward Melville’s attack to counter.

“Sachem North is an awesome team and we knew we had to come out strong,” Rogers-Healion said. “Seeing that they had a great hold on the center, we were able to pass around that using the outside and [send] the ball back.”

Kiera Alventosa clears the ball by sending it downfield. Photo by Bill Landon
Kiera Alventosa clears the ball by sending it downfield. Photo by Bill Landon

Senior Hannah Lorenzen was the last Patriot to light up the scoreboard, when the midfielder took a cross from Rogers-Healion and smacked the ball past the keeper to go up three goals with five minutes remaining in the first half.

Lorenzen said that Sachem North was much stronger in the final 30 minutes of play.

“We expected that they’d come out harder in the second half — they always do,” she said. “We knew that we had to step up our game — every single one of us — and keep the level of intensity up and just play our game.”

Sachem North struggled to find Ward Melville’s end of the field, and the Flaming Arrows had their hands full fighting off Patriots attackers for the remainder of the game.

“Although it was a solid win, I think that the girls would agree with me this wasn’t our best midfield game today, as far as our passing game,” Ward Melville head coach Shannon Watson said. “[Sachem North’s] strength was in the middle — they did a really nice job of stepping up and beating us to a lot of balls today.”

Watson said there is little discussion about her team’s undefeated performance [10-0 overall, 9-0 in Division I] with five league games left before the playoffs. The Patriots are just going to keep playing their game.

“We focus on possession and when we do that we’re more successful on the attacking end,” Watson said. “I think we did a nice job of keeping it out of our defensive end today.”

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Taylor Tripptree races ahead of the pack and drives the lane for the layup in the Patriots' 56-18 win over William Floyd on Jan. 12. Photo by Desirée Keegan

With 10 players contributing to the score and more than half the points coming from three-pointers alone, the Ward Melville girls’ basketball team had no problem cruising to a 56-18 win over William Floyd Tuesday.

“We worked well together,” junior guard Hannah Lorenzen said. “We really stepped up our defense, and we have a lot of shooting guards that can make threes; we did that pretty well today.”

Kira Sells nails one of her four three-pointers on the evening in the Patriots' 56-18 win over William Floyd on Jan. 12. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Kira Sells nails one of her four three-pointers on the evening in the Patriots’ 56-18 win over William Floyd on Jan. 12. Photo by Desirée Keegan

The Patriots started the game off by scoring eight straight points, with senior forward Heidi Scarth scoring half of them. The team was stealing passes and forcing William Floyd turnovers, but the Colonials bounced back to score five straight points.

Ward Melville re-extended its lead by the end of the first quarter, with senior guard Kira Sells and junior guard and forward Taylor Tripptree knocking down a three-pointer apiece to give their team a commanding 14-5 lead.

“It’s definitely one of our strongest points to our game,” Sells said of scoring three-pointers. “I know I could do better. So I’m just working on getting better every game.”

Sells did do one better, though.

After Shannon Berry banked three field goals to swing the tempo of the game, Sells swished two more treys to help her team further its lead to 30-10 by halftime.

Lorenzen said her teammates did a good job of passing outside if they couldn’t enter the paint.

“It does help a lot, because if we can’t penetrate through the paint, we can kick it and depend on our shooting guards to make the threes, which helps us get ahead,” she said.

But Ward Melville head coach Bruce Haller said a team that wants to go up against the best-of-the-best in Suffolk County, like Brentwood, Longwood, Sachem East and the county-best Commack, would need to play with a more balanced attack.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” he said. “The three is a great weapon, but if you fall too much in love with it and your three isn’t going in that particular game, now what? It’s all or nothing. That’s why we’re focusing on getting the ball inside a little more and getting some second shots. When those threes get missed, someone needs to be hitting the board from the weak side to get some putbacks.”

Hannah Lorenzen remains in control as she sets up a play in the Patriots' 56-18 win over William Floyd on Jan. 12. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Hannah Lorenzen remains in control as she sets up a play in the Patriots’ 56-18 win over William Floyd on Jan. 12. Photo by Desirée Keegan

What did work for the team, though, was getting enough ahead that more bench players were able to see minutes.

“The kids work really hard in practice all the time and it’s nice to get them out on the court, get them some playing time and have them make some shots,” he said. “We have a very talented, deep group.”

Six of the 10 players that scored on that deep roster banked trifectas, and 31 of the team’s total points came from the five bench players that scored.

Bre Cohn and Maggie Zanone came off the bench in the fourth to score six points and three points, respectively, while stealing passes and dishing assists to close out the scoring for the game.

“We’re all close on and off the court,” Lorenzen said. “We have classes together, eat lunch together — so we’re all friends.”

Haller said his team has come a long way, making the decision to come together and step up to replace the injured freshman leading scorer from last year’s team: Lauren Hansen.

“They could have felt sorry for themselves,” he said. “Instead, a number of players are stepping up and taking over responsibilities or a bit of a different role that we didn’t anticipate them having in the preseason, and they’ve done a good job of it. Instead, they decided that they’re going to make a run for this thing.”