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Michelle Bourguignon

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Jackie Brown battles a Shoreham-Wading River player for possession in a previous contest. File photo by Desirée Keegan

Although the Port Jefferson field hockey team fell to Pierson-Bridgehampton in the Suffolk County Class C championship, 6-0, the Royals can boast recording their first postseason appearance since 2009.

“It was a great feat the girls achieved,” Port Jefferson head coach Debbie Brown said. “They worked really hard to get into the position they were in, so I’m very proud of them.”

Ranked last out of the 13 teams to make the playoffs, the Royals did not expect to top the Whalers, but the team was proud of holding its opponent to a 1-0 lead by the halftime break.

“Pierson is an extraordinary team and they have a lot of girls that do travel all year round,” Brown said. “So to be 1-0 at halftime, I was extremely happy and extremely proud of them, and the score didn’t reflect how well the girls played.”

After Pierson-Bridgehampton scored a couple of goals in the second half, Brown, seeing a loss on the horizon, substituted in some of her younger players to give them playoff experience.

“They worked hard all season and they deserved it, so [Pierson-Bridgehampton] scored a few more quick goals,” Brown said.

According to the coach, the Royals had the added challenge of only fielding 14, compared to the average 25-player roster.

“So even though the score said 6-0, it was a great first-half game and, if anything, we dominated the first five minutes of the game and had the first couple of corners.”

Brown’s daughter, Jackie, who has been on the team for four years, scored 10 of the team’s 17 goals this season, despite being injured toward the beginning.

The junior forward said she couldn’t take all the credit because the goals wouldn’t have been possible without the help of her teammates. The younger Brown added that it was exciting to finally be a part of a playoff game, after previously watching from the sidelines while serving as a ball girl.

“To actually be on the field, on a team, with my teammates, playing, it was a nice experience,” she said. “In the beginning of the season we didn’t communicate well on the field, but in the end we were passing to each other nonstop, we believed in each other on the field; so I saw a big improvement.”

Port Jefferson senior defender Michelle Bourguignon said her team did not play Pierson-Bridgehampton during the regular season, but took them on last year. Leading up to the big game, her team practiced on turf to get used to the playing conditions, since the Royals’ home field is grass.

“To make it that far was a huge accomplishment,” she said. “We know they’re a very tough team, so that was pretty big for us to only be down 1-0 at halftime. Our team has always been very close and it’s going to be hard not being on the team anymore.”

The team’s camaraderie is what Debbie Brown said has been its biggest asset.

“I’ve had some extraordinarily talented teams, but this group worked hard every day,” she said. “A couple of seniors — Andreya Harvey and Michelle Bourguignon on defense, and Stacey Warm, one of our wings, junior Chiara Rabeno and freshmen Taylor Corallo and Phalina Sciara — really stepped up this year. It’s emotional because even though Jackie is my daughter, I consider them all one of my own.”

Corallo was one of the team’s key scorers until she broke her arm in a Sept. 19 game against Comsewogue.

Bourguignon earned All-Division honors for her work this season, Rabeno received an All-Conference nod, Harvey was named to the All-Tournament team and Brown earned All-County honors.

“Since the girls got a taste of playoffs this year, they’re going to want to get back there next year, so hopefully we’ll make it there again,” Jackie Brown said. “This season as a whole was pretty successful, considering that we hadn’t made playoffs since 2009, so the fact that we got that far, hopefully that carries into next season.”

Shoreham-Wading River midfielder Melissa Manzello knocks in her penalty stroke in the Wildcats' 2-0 blanking of Port Jefferson on Sept. 28. Photo by Desirée Keegan

A penalty stroke was all the Shoreham-Wading River field hockey team needed to top Port Jefferson Monday.

The Royals came out with more gas, but they were running on fumes by the middle of the first half and couldn’t stop the Wildcats, who ultimately won the game, 2-0.

Although at first the Wildcats had difficult controlling the ball on the lumpy grass field at Port Jefferson, their luck changed with six minutes left in the first.

While Shoreham made a shot at the cage, Port Jefferson freshman goalkeeper Catrina Alvarez fell on the ball, giving junior midfielder Melissa Manzello a penalty stroke.

Manzello wound up and shot straight past Alvarez, who made nine saves on the day, for the 1-0 lead.

“I think today we came together as a team and really worked hard to the end,” the midfielder said. “We worked on our passing and it feels really good to take what we’ve learned in practice to the field.”

Port Jefferson's Phalina Sciara and Shoreham-Wading River's Taylor Flanagan race for the ball. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Port Jefferson’s Phalina Sciara and Shoreham-Wading River’s Taylor Flanagan race for the ball. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Manzello said it helps that the Wildcats have a strong defense to back up the team. Led by co-captain Gabrielle Campo, the defense sent the ball back into Royals territory over and over, leading to fewer shots on goal for Port Jefferson. The Wildcats’ keeper, Megan Daly, only had to make three saves to seal the shutout.

“There is definitely a better team atmosphere and it’s grown since the beginning of the season,” Shoreham-Wading River new head coach Allie Franklin said. “It takes a while to figure out how slow or fast a field is and they figured out that the little passes were working, and that definitely advanced the ball up the field better for us than the big hits today.”

After taking a 1-0 lead into the halftime break, the Wildcats raced out onto the field in the second hungry for more. They dominated the time of possession, rattling off several shots on goal until, with 3:17 left to play, forward Brianna Fischetti received a pass from midfielder Taylor Flanagan and sent the ball crashing into the back of the cage for added insurance.

“We’re still really young, so I’m very proud of how they played today,” Port Jefferson head coach Deb Brown said. “We’ve been having a hard time communicating and I think they came out on fire today — we just got a little too tired in the second half. We need to build up the endurance going forward.”

To Port Jefferson senior midfielder Michelle Bourguignon, the team has already improved since last season and she hopes the Royals can still make a playoff push despite their 1-5 Division III record.

“We’re really good at working together to bring the ball up the field,” she said. “We just need to work on finishing.”

Port Jefferson defender Andreya Harvey fights for possession amid a swarm of players. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Port Jefferson defender Andreya Harvey fights for possession amid a swarm of players. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Shoreham-Wading River senior forward and co-captain Nina Mostaccio likes that her team was able to find the open space on the field and communicate to move the ball toward the goal.

“I think as the game progressed we got more hungry in the circle,” she said, referring to the area around the net. “We wanted more goals, and the speed increased as we moved up the field as the game progressed. When you work as a team and are successful, that’s the greatest feeling.”

The Wildcats, 4-2 in Division III after the win, will travel to Miller Place on Wednesday, while the Royals will travel to Babylon. Port Jefferson will host Sayville on Friday at 4:30 p.m., while Shoreham-Wading River will host Southampton that day at 4 p.m.