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Madison Sanchez

By Bill Landon

Shenendehowa has given the Ward Melville field hockey team a run for its money the last two seasons — outscoring the Patriots by one goal in the state semifinals last season and in double overtime in the state finals the year before. But this season, the Rocky Point field hockey team was first to press its luck with Ward Melville, forcing a shootout that the Patriots pulled away perfect from, 3-0, for the first win of the season.

“Respect to Rocky Point — they are a very aggressive and talented team, so I knew this wasn’t going to be a walk in the park,” Ward Melville head coach Shannon Sioss said of its nonleague opponent. “In fact, we like to schedule our nonleagues to be competitive games — it helps us see where our weaknesses are and what we need to work on.”

“We have a really experienced senior class and they’ve been down this road the last couple of years, so they’re on a mission right now.”

—Shannon Sioss

Rocky Point was first to find the back of the cage when senior midfielder Madison Sanchez dished the ball to senior forward Emily Molinaro.

The Patriots had to shake off the cobwebs when they found themselves battling a scrappy, in-your-face Eagles squad that caused several turnovers, and Ward Melville senior forward Kerri Thornton was first to break the ice. She evened the score for the Patriots with four minutes left until the halftime break, and rocked the back of the box on another solo with nine minutes left in the game for Ward Melville’s first lead.

“We have a really experienced senior class and they’ve been down this road the last couple of years, so they’re on a mission right now,” Sioss said. “I thought that Shannon Coughlan held the middle of our field today and Kerri Thornton is always up for a good challenge, so it’s fun to watch her play.”

Thornton said her team took the game very serious, knowing Rocky Point’s pedigree.

“I knew that Rocky Point was going to be good because they always battle with Miller Place in the county final,” the senior said. “So I wasn’t coming into this game thinking ‘oh, we’re going to win [this game easily, and as it turned out we had our hands full].”

Ward Melville drew a costly yellow card that led to Rocky Point defender Elizabeth Weiner scoring on a penalty shot to tie the game with four minutes remaining.

“We were right in this game and we deserved to be in this game,” said Rocky Point head coach Katie Bittner. “In the beginning we dominated, we scored first, and I think Ward Melville woke up a little bit, but we also got a little tired.”

“We were right in this game and we deserved to be in this game. “In the beginning we dominated…”

—Katie Bittner

Despite being a player down in the final minute of regulation, the Eagles held their own until the clock expired. Ward Melville, still a man up, tried to take home the win in sudden death overtime, but the Eagles returned to full strength two minutes in without Ward Melville getting a shot off. Rocky Point went down a player yet again in the final four minutes, but neither team could score.

“I don’t think that they played bad or that we got lucky — I honestly think that we were the better team,” Bittner said. “We made some mental mistakes that put us a man down, but when the field is this big, it’s huge that we held our own with our five field players to their six.”

Then came the best-of-five shootout, where Thornton and seniors Lexi Reinhardt and Kate Mulham helped Ward Melville to the 3-0 win, while goalkeeper Meghan Lorenzen guarded the Patriots’ cage to keep Rocky Point off the board.

Ward Melville will host Riverhead Sept. 6 at 4:15 p.m. Rocky Point opens its league season at home Sept. 7, hosting Sayville at 4 p.m.

Despite the loss, Bittner has realistic goals for her team this year.

“I’m not looking for an undefeated season by any means, I’m looking to get us to where [Ward Melville] got last year, which is a state championship,” she said. “And with this group, I know they can do it. This was truly a learning experience.”

Skylar Carrasquillo breaks away with the ball. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Brianna Carrasquillo’s five goals and two assists, and Christina Ferrara’s three goals and five assists, led the Rocky Point girls’ lacrosse team to a 20-11 home win over Hauppauge in a rain-drenched, windy Division II matchup April 25.

Madison Sanchez drives past a Hauppauge defender. Photo by Bill Landon

“For us, we’re finding that next level,” Rocky Point head coach Dan Spallina said. “Hauppauge, they’re fast, athletic with good lacrosse IQ and they’re a physical team. Our performance was good in that we got a lot of different girls in, and that’s always good for team morale.”

Leading 2-1 in the first five minutes of play, the Eagles began soaring over their opponent, scoring eight unanswered goals. During that time, sophomore Brianna Lamoureux notched her hat trick goal, Carrasquillo chipped in two, and juniors Madison Sanchez and Christina Bellissimo and sophomore Megan Greco each stretched the net for a 10-1 advantage just 11 minutes into the contest.

Hauppauge scored to stop the scoring spell, but it didn’t last long, as Carrasquillo and her younger sister Skylar each split the pipes for a 12-2 advantage.

Hauppauge again answered with two goals, but Ferrara’s stick spoke next with a solo shot for a 13-4 lead with six minutes still until halftime.

“We definitely didn’t want to underestimate them — we had to come out and play our game if we wanted to come out on top, and I thought we did that,” she said. “We got almost every draw today and that’s a huge part — that’s a game changer.”

Sanchez was that spark, winning 23 of 32 draws.

Christina Ferrara changes direction as she moves toward the cage. Photo by Bill Landon

Spallina opened the second half with his bench players, and as they gained some playing time Hauppauge began to chip away at the deficit, scoring four goals over the next five minutes to close the gap, 16-9, to slow the running clock back to normal.

But Brianna Carrasquillo slammed home her fifth goal of the game, and Sanchez once more to keep a nice margin.

“We didn’t want to take anything for granted,” Sanchez said. “Yes we’re ranked higher, but you still have to work hard. We’re not going to let anyone just slide through. We capitalized on our draws, we hit all of our shots and our speed is definitely a big part of our game.”

With the win, Rocky Point improves to 8-2 overall and 6-1 in league play, trailing division leader Eastport-South Manor by two games.

“With our speed we can bang the ball around, and with the movement we have, that’s our strength,” Spallina said. “I’m impressed with a lot of the girls and the amount of assists we had today. [Brianna] Carrasquillo — yeah, she’s the girl that buries the ball, but there’s a bunch of different pieces that go into it. Christina Ferrara chips in huge ground balls, she’s all heart and her assist numbers speaks volumes.”

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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.”