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Kasey Mitchell

Kasey Mitchell changes direction with the ball. File photo by Desirée Keegan

Written inside Kasey Mitchell’s yearbook is a quote from Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt: “Success isn’t owned. It’s leased, and rent is due every day.”

From a young age, the midfielder for the Mount Sinai girls’ lacrosse team was living by those words.

Mitchell first played lacrosse when she was in second grade, on the boys’ team at Comsewogue.

“It definitely helped me grow as a player,” she said. “I was a lot smaller than everyone else, but my dad wouldn’t let me back down to any boys. He still doesn’t.”

She joined the Mount Sinai girls’ varsity team in seventh grade, and was originally brought up as an attack.

“She was always a kid that was destined for greatness,” Mount Sinai head coach Al Bertolone said. “She was tough. Earlier on, she was just a confident attacker. I often feel that if she hadn’t torn her ACL in her freshman year, we probably would’ve gotten upstate [to the state championship] one more time. But every year she’s played, she’s done better and better — leading up to her finest year this year.”

Mitchell suffered her injury during a junior varsity basketball game, and came back three months later, competing on the lacrosse field in the county championship, where the Mustangs lost to Shoreham-Wading River.

During that healing period, her father, Pete, who is also the boys’ varsity head coach at Comsewogue, installed turf in the backyard to be able to practice with his daughter.

“When she tore her ACL, I made a commitment to train her,” Pete Mitchell said. “It’s kind of amazing that she ended up being the player that she is. She works hard every single day and there’s no substitute for hard work.”

He said his daughter’s commitment from a young age, much like the quote she lives by, contributed to her becoming an important piece of the Mustangs’ puzzle that helped the team achieve greatness.

“She was a tough kid — very athletic, and she worked real hard,” he said. “She loved the game and she was always around the boys, always around my team, and she got a good sense of the game and I think that’s one of her biggest assets. Her lacrosse IQ is very good. She goes to the gym every day, she has a personal trainer, and all those things and her successes have been a dream come true considering where she came from and how hard she’s worked to come back from her injury.”

During Kasey Mitchell’s sophomore year, the Mustangs went 20-0 overall and claimed the school’s first-ever Class C state title. In her junior year, the team went 18-1 overall with an undefeated, 14-0 mark in Division II. Mount Sinai made it to the Suffolk County Class C final, where the team lost to Bayport-Blue Point, 11-9.

Bertolone said the coaches sat her down at the end of that season to go over her individual and team goals, and to come up with a plan that could help her achieve them. The solution was moving her to midfield.

“When it comes to talking about Kasey, it’s just her evolution,” Bertolone said. “She was always a very, very good lacrosse player and her skills of course got better over the course of time. This year we moved her to the midfield and she was good on both sides of the field — offensively and defensively. She doesn’t care where she plays as long as she plays. Sometimes you’ll have to put your personal goals aside for team goals and she did that.”

She finished above 75 percent on draw controls, and scored 75 points off of 57 goals and 18 assists for a Mustangs team that went 20-1 overall en route to its second state title.

Besides her contributions to help win games, Bertolone said she was thankful for all Mitchell was able to do as a team captain.

“She was more like a coach on the field, and has great leadership skills in all facets,” he said. “She took care of business on the field and she took care of business off the field. She was really nurturing to the younger players; she was one of those quintessential senior leaders this year. She was outstanding.”

These contributions on and off the field earned her All-American honors — the major goal she had set for herself and Bertolone worked to help her achieve before she heads off to play women’s lacrosse at Stony Brook University. She was also named All-Tri-State and All-Long Island among other accolades.

“Lacrosse is what I grew up doing and since seventh grade lacrosse has been my life, day in and day out,” Mitchell said. “Bertolone is like my second dad, he’s helped me be the person I’ve become and without Mount Sinai lacrosse I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

A main reason why Mitchell said she chose Stony Brook is because despite her injury, head coach Joe Spallina was still interested in having Mitchell be a part of the program.

“After my ACL surgery, I was a little slow and kind of limped, and while a lot of colleges didn’t look at me, he never gave up on me,” she said. “Spallina didn’t hesitate to contact me and recruit me, so that was one thing I really appreciated about him.”

And she’s excited to see not only what she can do for the program, but what Spallina can do for her.

“He doesn’t doubt people — he’s completely turned around a couple of athletes,” Mitchell said. “I’m really excited to see what he can help me do and accomplish. Ever since I was a little kid lacrosse has been my entire life and I love playing it. There’s not a day that I don’t play it, honestly, and to just have the opportunity to play at such a high level with such a great team that has a great coach and great teammates … I just can’t wait. It’s a dream come true and I’m honored to be privileged enough to play at Stony Brook.”

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Mount Sinai’s senior co-captains Kasey Mitchell and Sydney Pirreca continued to lead the way for the Mustangs as they traveled upstate to Cortland last weekend and beat out both of their opponents to claim the school’s second state Class C lacrosse championship in three seasons.

On Friday morning, the girls’ lacrosse team breezed through its game against Skaneateles, scoring eight goals in the first half and five in the second for a 13-7 victory and a place in the finals.

Mitchell, a midfielder, scored five goals, and was named the MVP of the game. Freshman attack Meaghan Tyrrell tacked on two goals and two assists, and Pirreca, also a midfielder, added two goals.

On Saturday, the Mustangs took on Honeoye Falls-Lima in the finals, and got off to another strong start, scoring six goals in the first half en route to an 8-5 win.

Just two minutes into the game, Pirreca scored first with a shot into the top right corner and earned herself a hat trick by scoring the next two goals. She was named MVP of the game.

Mitchell followed by tallying the next three goals for her team, to end the scoring for the first half.

Mitchell tacked on another goal in the second half, and Tyrrell rounded out the scoring with a goal of her own. Sophomore Hannah Van Middelem made five stops in goal, and seniors Mary Ellen Carron, also a co-captain, and Morgan McGrath aided a poised defense that didn’t allow an opponent to reach double figures in scoring this season. Mitchell, Pirreca and Van Middelem were named to the All-Tournament team, and senior Ashley Seiter earned the sportsmanship award.

The Mustangs finished with a 20-1 overall record and Division II mark of 13-0.

This version corrects the dates of the state championship games.

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The pressure was on for the Mount Sinai girls’ lacrosse team on Saturday as they fought in sudden death for the Long Island Class C crown. Under the hot sun at Adelphi University, sophomore goalkeeper Hannah Van Middelem made her last of the game’s eight saves during the tense overtime period and passed to senior midfielder Sydney Pirreca, who tossed in the game-winning goal to edge out Cold Spring Harbor, 10-9, for the crown.

The Mustangs led their opponents, who scored 35 goals in their previous two playoff games, 4-2 at the end of the first half.

With three minutes left in the second, a Seahawks goal put that team out in front, 7-6, before Mount Sinai senior midfielder and co-captain Kasey Mitchell passed to freshman attack Camryn Harloff on a free position shot to retie the game, 7-7.

Mustangs senior midfielder and co-captain Mary Ellen Carron and Pirreca, also a co-captain, helped the girls build a two-goal lead in overtime but Cold Spring Harbor scored two goals, the second with 4.8 seconds left on the clock, to send the game into sudden death.

In the final moments of the game, Van Middelem snatched a point-blank shot by the Seahawks out of the air, then dished the ball to Pirreca. The senior, who is known for her speed, sprinted the length of the field and took the ball all the way to the cage, stretching the net for the game-winning goal.

Mitchell and Pirreca led the team with four points apiece. Mitchell scored two goals and added two assists, while Pirreca tallied four goals. Freshman attack Meaghan Tyrrell netted two goals and an assist, Harloff scored a point in each column and senior defender Jessica DeMeo rounded out the scoring with an assist.

Mount Sinai will play the winner of the Salmon River-Skaneateles in the state semifinals at 9 a.m. on Friday in Cortland.

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Mount Sinai’s Sydney Pirreca moves the ball deep into Rocky Point’s zone with Christina Bellissimo at her hip. The Mustangs pulled away with a 10-5 win over the Eagles on May 9 to go undefeated in Division II. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

The Mount Sinai girls’ lacrosse team finished an undefeated, perfect season in Division II with a 10-5 win over Rocky Point Saturday, while also squashing the Eagles’ hopes of a postseason appearance.

Rocky Point led by two early on, but the Mount Sinai Mustangs rallied and continued to answer back until the team took control of the game to earn a first-round bye with a 15-1 overall mark and 14-0 conference showing.

Rocky Point’s Madison Sanchez maintains possession of the ball at Mount Sinai’s Sydney Pirreca checks her, in the Mustangs’ 10-5 win over the Eagles May 9. Photo by Bill Landon
Rocky Point’s Madison Sanchez maintains possession of the ball at Mount Sinai’s Sydney Pirreca checks her, in the Mustangs’ 10-5 win over the Eagles May 9. Photo by Bill Landon

“We lost a nonleague game to St Anthony’s earlier [in the season], and with a playoff loss last season, we’ve only lost two games in the last three years,” Mount Sinai head coach Al Bertolone said. “Right now, there’s a culture that’s developed. They really believe in themselves, they believe in the plan and I’ve got winners in each grade level, so every year, the next group has taken over.”

The Mustangs struck first when senior co-captain Kasey Mitchell found the back of the cage 30 seconds in to get her team on the scoreboard.

Rocky Point freshman Madison Sanchez answered back three minutes later to tie the game at 1-1, and Rocky Point eighth-grader Brianna Carrasquillo scored the next two goals. First, she snagged a rebound off the pipe from a penalty attempt and buried her shot to retake the lead, and fired again five minutes later for the score with an assist from sophomore attack Christina Ferrara, to put her team out in front, 3-1.

“We really should have focused on the ground balls and the draws,” Carrasquillo said. “Our offense was good early on, but we needed to continue that in the second half.”

Mount Sinai’s Pirreca rocketed a shot between the pipes, and freshman attack Meaghan Tyrrell found the back of the cage next to retie the game, 3-3.

Mount Sinai continued to score, and this time, it was senior Jessica Demeo’s turn when she scored off an assist from Mitchell, but the lead didn’t last for long, as Rocky Point’s Brianna Lamereux sent her shot home with 7:57 left in the first to bring the score to 4-4.

Mount Sinai freshman Camryn Harloff answered the call to put her team out front 5-4, and give the team an advantage that would last for the rest of the game.

With 25 seconds left in the half, Mitchell fired a shot from the right side that hit the back of the net and game her team a 6-4 lead heading into the halftime break.

Mount Sinai’s Kasey Mitchell heads up the field around Rocky Point’s Brianna Lamereux in the Mustangs’ 10-5 win over the Eagles on May 9 that gave the team a perfect 14-0 mark in Division II. Photo by Bill Landon
Mount Sinai’s Kasey Mitchell heads up the field around Rocky Point’s Brianna Lamereux in the Mustangs’ 10-5 win over the Eagles on May 9 that gave the team a perfect 14-0 mark in Division II. Photo by Bill Landon

“We knew they were going to play a full 50 minutes — they’re a complete team and it’s no accident that they’re number one in the league,” Rocky Point head coach Dan Spallina said. “They’ve got great leadership; just look at the talent they have up and down their roster.”

Seven minutes into the second half Demeo scored again for her second goal of the game.

According to Rocky Point’s Sanchez, in order to have a chance against a powerhouse like Mount Sinai, her team would had to contain two of the team’s top players.

“We knew about Sydney Pirreca and Kasey Mitchell, and in order to win, we had to stop them,” she said. “But we couldn’t.”

Pirreca hit the scoreboard next off an assist from Tyrrell to surge ahead 8-4 with 12 minutes left to play, and Demeo split the pipes for her hat trick goal, to put her team out front 9-4 with just under 11 minutes left.

“It’s all about team chemistry,” Demeo said. “As good as the players are that we have [individually], the only thing that matters is the team. We do so much together off the lacrosse field and that really makes us better.”

Rocky Point wouldn’t go quietly, and freshman Christina Bellissimo found the net to trim the deficit to 9-5.

Pirreca shot the ball to the back of the cage a final time for a hat trick of her own, and put the game away 10-5.

From there, Mount Sinai burned time off the clock until the game was over. As the No. 1 seed, the Mustangs will open the postseason at home on Wednesday May 20.

Pirreca said her team will continue to do what it’s done all season, which she credits as the reason why her team went undefeated.

“[We] work hard and we work as a team,” she said. “We have a very strong bond between us, our coaches are great and we take it day by day. We only focus on one game at a time, and we never look ahead.”