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Jillian Meaney

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Gabrianna Lorefice moves the ball through traffic in Smithtown West's nonleague loss to Walt Whitman. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Smithtown West looked to shake off the cobwebs early this season, hosting Walt Whitman in a nonleague matchup Dec. 9, but a slow start for the Bulls left them in a deficit they could never recover from, falling 76-38.

Madison Flynn jumps to the rim. Photo by Bill Landon

Walt Whitman found its 3-point game early, hitting two in the opening minutes during a 10-0 run before Smithtown West called timeout. Down 14-0 after the break, Smithtown West junior guard Gabrianna Lorefice split her chances from the free-throw line to take the goose egg off the scoreboard with just over a minute left in the opening quarter.

With 4:28 left before the halftime break now trailing 24-9, sophomore forward Jillian Meaney hit a 3-pointer to close the gap, but the Wildcats countered with three triples of their own to take a commanding 40-16 lead into the locker room.

The Bulls held their own under the boards with aggressive rebounding that resulted in several jump balls, but struggled in transition and getting the ball to fall in the net.

“I saw some good things from players that haven’t had much playing time who have come up from junior varsity so that’s good, but defensively and transition-wise we need to do a better job,” Smithtown West head coach Katie Combs said. “I saw a lot of strength underneath the board even though [Walt Whitman] had the [height] advantage there.”

Rebecca Farrell shoots from 3-point range. Photo by Bill Landon

Senior guard Lauren Soriano opened the second half with a 3-pointer, and Meaney hit her second triple of the game but again Walt Whitman countered to keep the edge.

The Bulls found themselves down by 34 points midway through the final quarter, a hole too deep to climb out of. Lorefice led her team in scoring with eight points, sophomore Madison Flynn followed with seven and Meaney tacked on six.

Smithtown West has one more nonleague game, a Dec. 13 home game against Northport at 6 p.m., before beginning league play Dec. 19 in a home opener at 4 p.m.

“What’s helpful is that we’re able to fix our offensive mistakes, but today we felt a tremendous amount of pressure,” Combs said. “For next week we’re looking to get our first win and carry that momentum into our first league game and then build from there.”

Centereach's Annalie Buscarino makes a diving save off a penalty kick. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

With a 5-0 league record, Smithtown West hosted the Centereach girls’ soccer team, and on paper, it looked to be an easy matchup. But the 1-4 Cougars gave the team a run for its money.

In a raucous game that was stopped multiple times for players to receive yellow cards, leading to both fan and coach ejections, the Bulls’ lone goal came with 12 minutes left to play, as Smithtown West escaped with a 1-0 victory.

entereach’s Emily Tirado and Smithtown West’s Jillian Meaney leap up to head the ball. Photo by Bill Landon
Centereach’s Emily Tirado and Smithtown West’s Jillian Meaney leap up to head the ball. Photo by Bill Landon

Although the Bulls spent most of the game on the Cougars half of the field, Centereach’s defense stood its ground and time and time again was able to clear the ball down field.

Play was stopped as the coaches questioned many calls made by the officials. There was a lengthy delay for an injured player with 27 minutes left, and a minute later play stopped as the officials ejected Smithtown West’s head coach Rob Schretzmayer.

With all the play stoppages, neither team could find a rhythm, and the game stretched beyond two hours in length.

On a penalty kick, Centereach senior goalkeeper Annalie Buscarino stood tall in the net, and dove to the right side of the net, deflecting the ball for the save to the astonishment of the Bulls’ kicker.

“They always come out hard and we were definitely expecting a lot, because they’re the No. 1 team in the league right now, but I think we did a really great job at stepping up and I was very happy with my team’s performance,” she said. “Defensively and offensively, we moved the ball and we have to keep up this momentum to bring in some wins this season.”

Smithtown West’s Jillian Meaney’s foot decided the game with 11:21 left to play, when the freshman’s shot found the right corner of the net for the lone goal of the afternoon.

“It was a short corner — we planned it before,” Meaney said. “I had a good angle to shoot and I just shot it.”

Centereach head coach Andrew Nardi said his team studied and prepared to take on the team atop the League III leaderboard.

Smithtown West's Sarah Harrington and battles Centereach’s Jessica Desena for the ball. Photo by Bill Landon
Smithtown West’s Sarah Harrington battles Centereach’s Jessica Desena for the ball. Photo by Bill Landon

“Smithtown West — they’re undefeated, but we had a game-plan and we stuck with the game-plan,” he said. “And it helped us. We just got unlucky in that last 12 minutes.”

Centereach senior Lauren Buscarino, Annalie’s twin sister, was under no illusion that her team would have an easy time against Smithtown West.

“We were expecting a hard game, and we had to step up and we did that,” she said. “We kept our spirits up; we played up to their level. We’re both division [III] teams, so it’s easy to fall back a little, but today we played up to them.”

Meaney said she thought her team may have underestimated Centereach.

“I didn’t think they were going to be that strong,” she said. “We came in weak and we should’ve gone in stronger. I’m happy we were able to stay up, and we kept pushing through the game, even after all the crazy stuff that went on.”

Smithtown West assistant coach Steve Ianone said it was difficult for his team to gain any kind of traction during the contest.

“The game was stopped so many times during the course of play … neither team could get into any kind of groove, so we just couldn’t get a flow going,” Ianone said. “I was pleased with everyone’s overall performance on the field today, though, especially with the stop-and-go play.”