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Port Jefferson junior Kris Cheslock races to the basket in the Royals' 60-58 win over Greenport on Dec. 18. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Kris Cheslock wasn’t happy with the way he was practicing last Thursday night and walked into the locker room feeling defeated, as head coach Keith Buehler followed behind for a pep talk. The next time they went into the locker room together, Friday night, they were celebrating a huge win.

“We have a terrific relationship,” the Port Jefferson head boys’ basketball coach said of he and his junior forward. “We had a nice man-to-man talk, so for him to have the game he had tonight after what he was battling last night, it touches my heart. I love these kids and I’m just so happy for him.”

Port Jefferson sophomore Thomas Mark dribbles the ball through mid court in the Royals' 60-58 win over Greenport on Dec. 18. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Port Jefferson sophomore Thomas Mark dribbles the ball through mid court in the Royals’ 60-58 win over Greenport on Dec. 18. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Cheslock scored a game-high 34 points and knocked in a layup with 21 seconds left to break a tie, giving the Royals a home court win over Greenport, 60-58.

“It’s a great uplift,” Cheslock said of his game and the team’s win. “I was feeling down last night and this was a great way to come back up.”

He scored 12 of the team’s 19 first-quarter points — adding stats in each category with two three-pointers, two layups and two free-throw points — but the team fell behind 24-19. Both teams were slow to get on the board in the second, but the Royals were able to narrow the gap to 34-31 by halftime.

“It was a tough one and a pivotal game to start the season,” Port Jefferson senior forward Michael Spyrou said. “We’re already 0-1 so it was good to get a win here at home.”

The third stanza proved to be much like the first, with Cheslock scoring eight points, but Greenport maintained its three-point lead, 46-43, by the end of the next eight minutes.

The fourth quarter was when the game caught fire.

With 6:09 left to play, Greenport jumped out to a 52-44 lead.

Port Jefferson senior Michael Spyrou goes for the layup in the Royals' 60-58 win over Greenport on Dec. 18. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Port Jefferson senior Michael Spyrou goes for the layup in the Royals’ 60-58 win over Greenport on Dec. 18. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Spyrou missed a 1-and-1 attempt, but sank the rebound for two points and stole a pass that lead to a Cheslock field goal. Seconds later Cheslock added another to make it a two-point game, 52-50. With 3:27 left to play, he intercepted a pass and nailed a long field goal to tie the game, and the crowd erupted. It didn’t last for long, though, as Greenport scored four points off two free throws and a layup, to maintain a 56-52 edge.

Cheslock swished a field goal to make it 56-54 and Greenport tacked on another two free throws, but Spyrou grabbed a rebound for the score and was fouled, swishing his extra point to make it a one-point game, 58-57.

“Me and my teammate Cheslock got the ball to each other and were able to score,” said Spyrou, who was next in line behind his comrade with 18 points and eight rebounds. “Our teammates were getting us the ball, we were getting the looks we wanted and that’s what we go over in practice and we hope to see out on the court.”

Port Jefferson junior John McLaughlin leaps for posession in the Royals' 60-58 win over Greenport on Dec. 18. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Port Jefferson junior John McLaughlin leaps for posession in the Royals’ 60-58 win over Greenport on Dec. 18. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Cheslock finally got what he had been pushing for when, with 21.4 seconds remaining, he nailed another field goal — this time to give his team the lead, 59-58, and ultimately the win. Again the gym shook with excitement.

“It was a rush,” Cheslock said. “It’s electric — everyone is rooting for you in the crowd and it feels great.”

The team and the fans were matching each other’s excitement during the last few minutes of the game.

“I kept telling my teammates not to give up, that we got this, we’re going to win, we’re going to pull through,” he said. “And we did.”

Greenport was fouled with 9.7 seconds left on the clock, but missed both opportunities to tie or grab the lead. With 7.6 seconds left to play, Spyrou tacked on the final point of the game off a free throw.

“I’m very impressed because we’re a young team,“ Buehler said. “They’ve never really been in a game like that, so I was a little scared. … [But] they were resilient, they stuck around, they stayed calm and they won the game.”

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Mount Siani senior midfielder Chris Marrs squeezes between Miller Place senior midfielders Daniel Meneses and Carter Contreras to gain possession of the ball in the Panthers' 2-0 blanking of the Mustangs on Oct. 5. Photo by Desirée Keegan

By Desirée Keegan

The Miller Place boys’ soccer team had yet to allow an opponent to score at home all season, and continued that streak with a 2-0 blanking of Mount Sinai on Monday.

The victories were not only a result of the team’s strong defensive line, but also because of the efforts of senior forward John Murphy, who scored at least one goal in all three of the team’s home clean sheets.

Miller Place senior forward John Murphy dribbles the ball downfield in the Panthers' 2-0 win over Mount Sinai on Oct. 5. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Miller Place senior forward John Murphy dribbles the ball downfield in the Panthers’ 2-0 win over Mount Sinai on Oct. 5. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Miller Place started off with two quick opportunities at a goal, but one hit off of the far left post and the other went through the field goal post above the net, and Murphy saw two of his own opportunities thereafter that just went wide. Despite a 0-0 score at the end of the first half, the Panthers were still able to get the job done in the second.

“We saw the game out,” Miller Place first-year head coach Kenny Lake said. “One of the biggest things we’ve been focusing on is shutouts more than anything else, and making sure we’re not giving up any cheap goals. We’ve kind of eliminated that since the beginning of the season, so I thought they did a great job.”

With 26:04 left to play in the game, senior defender Alex Moschella dribbled the ball all the way down the right sideline from Miller Place to Mustangs territory, and crossed the ball in front of the net to Murphy, who knocked it in for the team’s first point on the board.

“It felt good,” Murphy said of the goal. “Especially when I got the ball and went down the line; beat out the whole defense.”

Less than two minutes later, Moschella did it again, but this time, the cross opportunity was initially missed. And although a shot on goal was made, it went off of the top crossbar. A rebound was attempted, and Mount Sinai senior goalkeeper Nicolas Jensen was able to come up with the save, but couldn’t maintain possession of the ball. After it bounced out of his hands and rolled out in front, the Panthers found themselves with another opportunity at a goal, and Miller Place senior midfielder Daniel Meneses rocketed the ball just left of a diving Jensen.

Mount Sinai senior goalkeeper Nicolas Jensen punts the ball into play in the Mustangs' 2-0 loss to Miller Place on Oct. 5. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Mount Sinai senior goalkeeper Nicolas Jensen punts the ball into play in the Mustangs’ 2-0 loss to Miller Place on Oct. 5. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“They played tough,” Mount Sinai head coach Dave Herrschaft said of his team. “Definitely, they had a great first half, and then let up two in the second half and it was tough for them to really bounce back after that. I think they played a solid game. Offensively, they’ve got to get a little more creative and start finishing.”

With the win, Miller Place improved to 5-2-1 in League VI, while Mount Sinai dropped to 1-6-1.

While Lake is in his first year with the program, his team is already on pace to surpass the feats the team has been able to achieve over the last few years.

“They were business from day one — I didn’t have to do a whole lot of changing,” Lake said of his initial encounters with the team. “They came in as disciplined soccer players and that’s something that has been a pleasure. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of kids — mature, well-mannered, hard-working; they’ve given me everything they have to give.”

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Ward Melville junior midfielder Madison Hobbes is chased for the ball in the Patriots' 6-0 shut out of Brentowod on Oct. 5. Photo by Bill Landon
Ward Melville junior midfielder Madison Hobbes is chased for the ball in the Patriots’ 6-0 shut out of Brentowod on Oct. 5. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

After a slow start, and leading 2-0 at the end of 40 minutes, the Ward Melville girls’ soccer team leaned on its bench in the second half to overpower Brentwood and put the game away, 6-0.

“I was happy with our play in the first five to 10 minutes when we scored quick, but we fell into a lull — thinking we were going to have an easy game,” Ward Melville head coach John Diehl said. “I didn’t like our performance for most of the first half, but we picked it up midway through the second.”

Ward Melville sophomore forward Kerri Liucci opened the scoring four minutes in when she broke free of defenders and shot from the left side, beating the keeper to the right corner for the score.

Junior midfielder and co-captain Megan Raftery struck next off a corner kick, to help the Patriots edge ahead, 2-0.

Ward Melville senior forward and co-captain Ciara Guglielmo stops the ball to gain possession at midfield in the Patriots' 6-0 blanking of Brentwood on Oct. 5. Photo by Bill Landon
Ward Melville senior forward and co-captain Ciara Guglielmo stops the ball to gain possession at midfield in the Patriots’ 6-0 blanking of Brentwood on Oct. 5. Photo by Bill Landon

“We had good possession today — we really stepped it up even though we had a considerable lead,” Raftery said. “But it was a much better effort in that second half.”

Diehl said he decided to start some players in the second half who don’t normally start and don’t receive as much playing time.

“They came in and did a great job,” he said. “They did what we wanted, because we needed a change in the second half.”

Raftery opened the second half with her second goal of the game, after leaping in the air and heading a corner kick past the keeper with authority, for a three-goal advantage.

“I’m designated to go to the net for every corner [kick],” Raftery said. “It was a cross from Ciara Guglielmo and I was able to head it in. It’s a set play for us and we practice it all the time.”

On a crossing pass three minutes later, sophomore midfielder Arianna Barbieri passed to junior midfielder Hannah Hobbes, who buried her shot.

Ward Melville junior midfielder and co-captain Megan Raftery, who had two goals in the Patriots' 6-0 win at Brentwood on Oct. 5, heads the ball. Photo by Bill Landon
Ward Melville junior midfielder and co-captain Megan Raftery, who had two goals in the Patriots’ 6-0 win at Brentwood on Oct. 5, heads the ball. Photo by Bill Landon

“I got a great cross and I just tapped it in,” Hobbes said. “We had a better second half with better possession and good passing.”

With just over 20 minutes left to play, it was Guglielmo, a senior forward and co-captain’s turn, as she drove a teammate’s rebound off a save from the Brentwood goalkeeper back at the net, and this time, in, for the 5-0 lead.

“I thought we had great possession on a grass field, because we usually don’t play on grass,” Guglielmo said. “It’s bumpy and a different way of play, so in the second half we got used to the [field] and played to our feet.”

Rounding out the scoring for Ward Melville was junior forward Erin O’Connor, who found the net at the 18:13 mark, to put the game away, 6-0.

With the win, the Patriots improve to 7-1-2 in League I, and will travel to Sachem North Wednesday for a 4:15 p.m. game.

Ward Melville's Lexi Reinhardt (No. 9) taps the ball into the cage off a feed from Kerri Thornton (No. 12) during the Patriots' 4-0 shutout of Commack on Sept. 22. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Ward Melville swarmed the field Tuesday and with an impressive passing performance gave Commack more than it could handle, blanking their opponent 4-0 on the road in Division I field hockey action.

The Patriots got to work three minutes in when sophomore Kerri Thornton hit the scoreboard first off an assist from fellow sophomore Kate Mulham, to take an early lead.

Ward Melville's Katie Mulham moves the ball down the field during the Patriots' 4-0 blanking of Commack on Sept. 22. Photo by Bill Landon
Ward Melville’s Katie Mulham moves the ball down the field during the Patriots’ 4-0 blanking of Commack on Sept. 22. Photo by Bill Landon

“I had a great insert from Kate Mulham,” Thornton said of the first goal of the game. “Our passing today was the best [we’ve had this season].”

Having lost to their Division I rival Sachem East on Saturday, the Patriots’ play was crisper, more deliberate, and they were faster to the ball than their opponents to bounce back and learn from their defeat.

“I think that coming off Saturday’s loss to Sachem East, today, we showed a lot of discipline,” said Ward Melville head coach Shannon Watson. “We were able to play at our level, the entire game.”

With 13:06 left in the first half, junior Kassidy Rogers-Healion passed the ball to freshman Lexi Reinhardt, who redirected the ball in the front of the cage for the score to put her team out front, 2-0.

At the 10-minute mark, Commack made an offense push, spending more time in front of the Patriots’ box, but Ward Melville senior goalkeeper Emily Hoey stood tall and extinguished the Cougars’ onslaught. She notched four saves on the afternoon.

Ward Melville wasn’t finished scoring, and a minute later, Reinhardt found the box again, this time, off an assist by Thornton, to help her team break out to a 3-0 lead.

“It was a fast break and the defender was on Kerri [Thornton],” Reinhardt said. “I was right in front of the goal and she passed it to me, and I just tapped it in.”

With just over four minutes left in the half, Commack’s Brooke Novello squared off against Hoey with a penalty shot at point-blank range, which Hoey was able to deflect, spoiling the Cougars’ best scoring opportunity of the afternoon.

Ward Melville's Kiera Alventosa air dribbles the ball during the Patriots' 4-0 win over Commack on Sept. 22. Photo by Bill Landon
Ward Melville’s Kiera Alventosa air dribbles the ball during the Patriots’ 4-0 win over Commack on Sept. 22. Photo by Bill Landon

Reinhardt wasn’t done, and buried her hat trick goal early in the second half, to put the game away, 4-0.

“I got a great pass [from junior Hannah Lorenzen] and I just tapped it in,” Reinhardt said. “I had a lot of help today from my teammates.”

Watson said that junior Kiera Alventosa and senior Shawn Davenport held the midfield together, which was key to getting the ball up front.

“They both did a really nice job for us in the midfield this afternoon,” she said. “They made smart choices and they anchored the center of the field today.”

With the win, Ward Melville improves to 4-1, and will look to improve on that when the Patriots host Bay Shore on Friday. The opening face-off is scheduled for 4:15 p.m.

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Kings Park's Kayla Homeyer competes in a game against Huntington last season. File photo by Desirée Keegan

By Joe Galotti

The schedule makers did not do the Smithtown East girls’ soccer team any favors during their first month of the season. The Bulls are currently in the middle of a stretch in which they play four games in six days, and in their matchup against Kings Park on Tuesday afternoon, fatigue was certainly a factor.

After winning a physical and hard-fought game against crosstown rival Smithtown West on Monday, Smithtown East allowed the Kingsmen to dominate much of the play in Tuesday’s contest, but strong play in their own end and a 17-save performance by sophomore goalkeeper Cat Sheppard, allowed the Bulls to keep things close on the scoreboard, and ultimately, leave the field with a 1-1 draw.

Smithtown East head coach Bill Hamilton made the decision to give his regular starters limited playing time in the nonleague matchup. Despite that, he was pleased that his team was still able to avoid their first loss of the season.

“Given the fact that they had about 30 attempted shots in the game, I’m happy it came out as a tie,” Hamilton said. “I told the team today, at the beginning, that I don’t care about how the game goes, as long as we play hard. And they did.”

Kings Park head coach, Bryan LoPalo, also seemed satisfied with the way his team played in the match, despite the fact that his club failed to come away victorious.

“It was not the result we wanted, but the effort was outstanding,” LoPalo said. “I feel like we played our style of soccer and it was a good game.”

Most of the contest was played on the Bulls’ side of the field, with the Kingsmen preventing their opponent from breaking through the middle of the field. LoPalo highlighted the defensive efforts of seniors Shakila Sevanan and Francesca Timpone, and juniors Alexa Biegler and Kayla Homeyer in the game.

Kings Park controlled play through much of the first half, but still entered the intermission trailing 1-0. Sheppard’s strong play in net held the Kingsmen off the scoreboard, and sophomore midfielder Emma Heiser found the back of the net for the Bulls, to give her team the early advantage.

With just under 28 minutes remaining in the second half, Kings Park finally broke through.

A Genevieve Carpenter deflection, off a cross by teammate Selena Ubriaco, was too much for Sheppard to handle, and the ball found its way just over the goal line for the score.

“I just saw Selena coming down the line, and she crossed it, Carpenter said. “I was just trying to help make sure that it went in the goal, and it did. That ended up being a good result for us.”

Kings Park continued to put pressure on Smithtown East during the game’s final stretch, but Sheppard stood tall for the Bulls. The netminder made numerous big saves, including key late-game stops on golden opportunities by Carpenter and senior forward Noelle Perciballi.

“I kept focusing on the ball, and as we continued on, I was able to keep my head in the game,” Sheppard said. “I was a little tired from the game yesterday, but I wanted to get a good result here, and I knew I had to push through.”

Smithtown East continued on with their challenging stretch today, when they visit North Babylon at 4 p.m. Kings Park will also be back in action today, as they hit the road to face off against Deer Park at 6 p.m.

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Port Jefferson junior forward and co-captain Jillian Colucci shoots and scores through a crowd of Babylon defenders. Photo by Desirée Keegan

By Desirée Keegan

After dropping the first two non-league games of the season, the Port Jefferson girls’ soccer team is back on track after topping Babylon Monday, 4-1, to continue a three-game League VII winning streak.

“Coming from being Class B and beating them in the Suffolk County Championship last year and now dropping down to Class C, it is definitely a big win for us today,” head coach Allyson Wolff said. “In the beginning of the season we played some tough opponents in Ward Melville and Center Moriches and we felt like the girls weren’t talking or communicating, so we worked on that and our passing in practice, keeping it simple and playing to feet — not just trying to kick the ball — so I feel we definitely stepped it up for this game.”

Port Jefferson sophomore midfielder Hailey Reale feels pressure from a Babylon defender as she maintains possession of the ball. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Port Jefferson sophomore midfielder Hailey Reale feels pressure from a Babylon defender as she maintains possession of the ball. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Port Jefferson sophomore goalkeeper Brianna Scarda made several big saves to keep the score 0-0, and the Royals had some chances at a goal early on, but Babylon’s defense came up with the stops.

Although opening the second half still in a stalemate, the Royals were quick to make up for lost time after speaking with Wolff at halftime.

“At halftime I told them that they weren’t playing our game,” Wolff said. “Babylon was beating us to the ball and stepping in front of us, and I told them that if we were going to let them do this, then we’re not going to win. I told them that they have to want it and it has to come from their heart, and told them that the other team looked like it wanted it more than they did, and I think that got them angry and sparked something.”

Port Jefferson junior midfielder and forward Clare O'Connor sends the ball into play during the Royals' 4-1 win over Babylon on Sept. 21. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Port Jefferson junior midfielder and forward Clare O’Connor sends the ball into play during the Royals’ 4-1 win over Babylon on Sept. 21. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Less than four minutes in, junior forward Jillian Colucci beat out the Babylon goalkeeper, who came out of the box to try and make a save, and shot the ball into the right side of an empty net off an assist from junior midfielder and forward Clare O’Connor, for the 1-0 lead.

“I knew I was going to get the pass, so I started running and felt the defense on my back, but I was able to touch it past the goalie and did whatever I could do to continue to touch it into the net,” she said.

At the 29:48 mark, after O’Connor sent the ball into play, Colucci attempted a goal through a swarm of defenders, and junior midfielder and forward Brittany Fazin put out her foot to stop the rebound and sent the ball into the right corner for a 2-0 advantage.

Off another assist from O’Connor, who crossed the ball into the box after a foul call, Colucci scored her second goal with a straight shot up the middle through traffic and past the keeper. She followed it up with her hat trick goal when, again, the Babylon goalkeeper came out of the box, leaving the net empty.

“The game was intense, and it always is against Babylon,” Colucci said. “Since we’re only playing them once this season we knew we had to step up and play them as hard as we could and keep our record strong against them.”

Port Jefferson junior midfielder and forward Brittany Fazin kicks the ball behind her to keep the pressure in Babylon's zone. Colucci would grab the pass and score on the play, and the Royals went on to beat the Panthers, 4-1, on Sept. 21. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Port Jefferson junior midfielder and forward Brittany Fazin kicks the ball behind her to keep the pressure in Babylon’s zone. Colucci would grab the pass and score on the play, and the Royals went on to beat the Panthers, 4-1, on Sept. 21. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Scarda made a save, her last of 18 on the afternoon, exactly three minutes after the Royals’ final goal to preserve the clean sheet for the time being, but after a goalie change, senior Noelle Zimmermann gave up a goal with 5:07 left to play, to bring the final score to 4-1.

“We really, really earned it,” Scarda said of the win. “All the nerves that we had — being scared about the game, we took and converted into our skill and our playing. We got our heads in the zone every chance we got and we trained very, very hard leading up to this game.”

What helped the Royals was that the team was playing to feet instead of chasing the ball in the air like they did in the first half.

“We don’t have good control of it [in the air], and when they play things to feet it’s pretty, it’s beautiful and it makes things happen,” assistant coach Michele Aponte said. “They’re a stronger group of girls together, especially getting to the level they got to last year. They want it.”

Port Jefferson travels to McGann-Mercy Friday, for a 4:30 p.m. game. The Royals have topped the Monarchs all six times they faced their opponent in the last three seasons.