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Suffolk County sports

Shoreham-Wading River junior Kelsey Hughes looks for the rebound in the Wildcats quarter-final playoff game against Islip Feb. 15. Bill Landon photo

With the score tied at 42-42 with :09 seconds left in regulation Sophie Costello drove the lane for the Wildcats scoring two as she fell to the floor with :06 seconds left.

The Wildcats sank one more from the free throw line as time expired to win 45-42 in the quarter-final playoff game at home against Islip Feb. 15.

Costello led her team in scoring with 19, GraceAnn Leonard netted 12 and Mia Rosati banked 8.

The Wildcats the class A3 seed will travel to West Babylon the A2 seed for the semi-final round Feb. 18. Game time is scheduled for 5:00 p.m.

Tickets are available online here at gofan.co/app/school/NYSPHSAAXI.

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Amy Whitman looks for the rebound for the Royals at home against Greenport/Southold. Bill Landon

It was a battle for the top spot for Royals of Port Jefferson (5-0) and the Greenport Porters (7-0) in league VII play Monday, Jan. 31 night where the Royals took the early lead and never looked back in the 55-38 win. 

It was Abigail Rolfe the senior who battled in the paint all game long drawing foul after foul, making the Porters pay at the free throw line hitting 12 out of 12. 

Lola Idir did what she’s done all season hitting four triples, three field goals and three from the line for a team high 21 points. Rolfe banked 18 points and Annie Maier netted 10. The Royals retake the court Feb. 4 with a road game against Mattituck. Game time is 5:45 p.m. 

Photos by Bill Landon 

Mt. Sinai senior guard Casey Campo looks for the rebound in a league VI home game against Glenn Jan 20. Photo by Bill Landon

The Lady Mustangs of Mount Sinai trailed from the opening tip-off and edged ahead by one, with less than a minute left in the first half. 

John Glenn brought a potent three-point game that the Mustangs struggled to contain in the league VI matchup Jan 20.  

Tied at 41 all with six minutes left in regulation, John Glenn drew several fouls and did their damage from the free throw line defeating the Mustangs 61-53 for their first loss of the season. 

Mount Sinai senior Casey Campo topped the scoring charts with 24 points and Kyle Budke banked 18. 

The loss drops the Mustangs to 6-1 in league to share the top spot with Shoreham Wading River with six games remaining before post season play begins.

Photos by Bill Landon 

Shoreham-Wading River’s Maddie-Lynn McKiernan places 4th overall in the 1500-meter with a 5:21.65 in a crossover-meet at SCCC Jan 9. Bill Landon photo

 

The Lady Wildcats of Shoreham-Wading River competed in a section XI crossover indoor track meet at Suffolk County Community College Jan. 9. 

Madison Zelin placed 2nd over all in the 55-meter dash clocking in at 9.80. Teammates Olivia Pesso and Maddie-Lynn McKiernan placed 3rd & 4th respectively at the 1500-meter distance, and Madison Zelin placed first in the  300-meter dash with a 45.35.

— All photos by Bill Landon

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Comsewogue had their hands full in their league IV season opener against West Babylon, where the Lady Warriors faced a stout defense resulting in several turnovers in the 58-28 loss at home Dec. 18. 

Jalyn Kirschenhucter was the bright spot for the Warriors scoring 3 triples, 4 field goals and a pair of free throws for 19 points. 

The Lady Warriors retake the court with a pair of road games against Hauppauge on Dec. 20 with a 4 o’clock start, and the following day against Eastport South Manor with a game time scheduled for 5:45 p.m.

— All photos by Bill Landon 

The Rocky Point girls’ soccer team. Photo from Rich Acritelli

These were the words of the members of the Rocky Point High School girls’ soccer team, after they completed their schedule with an undefeated season. 

The Rocky Point girls’ soccer team. Photo from Rich Acritelli

This past Monday, they gained a hard fought 1-0 victory against the talented Wildcats of Shoreham-Wading River. Within every game, the “Lady Eagles” were a confident, but not a brash group of players, that never looked past any opponent. Currently, they are amongst the highest ranked teams within the state, and they look forward to the play-offs to continue their winning ways. Coach Peter Costa explained the dominant play of his girls as a “team that never quits in any game.”

It has been a unique year for the several seniors that comprise the nucleus of this team. Watching them interact with each other, they are an extremely close bunch that have formed an enduring bond on and off the field. This was demonstrated by senior right forward Gianna Amendola who scored the winning goal against Shoreham-Wading River. Amendola has been a scoring machine, as she leads the county with thirty-one goals, and she has set the single season record for the school. Against Shoreham, with three defenders on her, she scored the winning goal. Armed with a big smile and a can-do attitude, she is looking forward to playing next fall for a dominant four-year college. 

Next to Amendola is the “comic relief” for this team in defender Victoria Curreri. She was extremely proud of the “Great Wall of Defense” that this group has established in allowing only eight goals during the season and supporting the team with ten shutouts. All the defender’s credit Junior MaryKate Abernethy’s remarkable play in the net, to only allow eight goals within 16 games. Next fall, Curreri will be playing lacrosse at Iona College in New Rochelle.

Always with a huge smile, forward Alex Kelly has been a major presence on the offense. This talented four-year varsity soccer player and track and field jumper and sprinter will be attending Princeton University next fall. She has been a dominant offensive figure in creating the greatest number of assists and ranking second in points in Suffolk County.  This young lady that is always known for her positive demeanor, is also a tenacious player that makes her presence felt on the field.  Kelly has thoroughly enjoyed her time playing since her childhood with many of these girls who are about to graduate.  

Another important member of this team is Megan Loeser. The center mid-fielder is an extremely talented player that has been an important cog towards the success of this team. Awarded All-League and Division honors, this three-year captain can always be seen hustling and pushing her teammates against the opposition. This “field general” identifies this team as the hardest working group that she has played with during her 14-year soccer career for school and travel leagues. Always an upbeat young lady, Loeser expects to continue playing soccer in college.

Next to Loeser, is her best friend and nearby neighbor in Lindsey Lucia. An aggressive defender, she has a strong understanding of this sport, especially during big games. Like many of the other girls, she began playing sports within the CYO leagues. Lucia wears a large trade-mark smile, where this genuine student-athlete has been a starting varsity three-year captain. This spirited team leader has established the Rocky Point mantra for competing against difficult teams like that of Shoreham, East Islip and Hauppauge, is to handle each game like it’s the play-offs. Lucia will be attending C.W. Post next fall, where she will be playing lacrosse in Brookville. 

The Rocky Point girls’ soccer team. Photo from Rich Acritelli

Mia Negus recalls her younger moments of being taught this game with her teammates within the fields of Frank J. Caraseti Elementary School. She is a vital member of the vaunted defense that has made it extremely difficult for opposing schools to score against Rocky Point. Negus is excited to complete her high school on one of the most successful team’s in school history.

Senior Kaitlyn Reilly could be one of the most versatile student-athletes on this team. While she is a soft-spoken young lady, Reilly is a tough defensive player, that is proud of a group that always pulls for each other. This amazing student would like to play at a respected four-year school next fall, where she would like to major in elementary education. 

Looking up the field, Reilly often passes the ball to Lilly Resciniti, who is an extremely capable mid-fielder. Resciniti like that of Loeser, Kelly and Amendola, is a dominant member of this team, where she skillfully helps the offense and defense. She views the concentration of this team as a key factor within its “mind-set” to always practice and play 110% of the time.  An extraordinary student that is academically ranked tenth in her class, this mid-fielder is looking forward to attending medical school and studying neuroscience.  

Sophia Wood is extremely pleased to be a part of the “insane talent” that has surrounded this team.  Wood is a center mid-fielder that is looking forward to playing against the best players in Suffolk County during the play-offs. Like the other girls, she is thrilled to be part of a team that is extremely close, where they like to spend time together through their weekly pasta parties.  

Wood will be playing lacrosse next fall at St. Leo University. All of the girls would like to thank their fellow senior back-up goalie Julia Darby that has played with them for the last four years. Her support has been instrumental in helping the team prepare during practices and before games against some of the best teams in the county.

Many years down the road, as these ladies pursue their own path’s in life, they will always recall this regular season, where they were undefeated before the play-offs. With a sincere affection towards each other, the comradery of this group will continue to push them through the rigors of the play-offs. 

Costa believed that the “success this year has been our team bond. The players care for each other, they cheer for each other and spend time off the field together. Every practice is fun, and it is filled with energy.”

Long time Athletic Director Charles Delargy stated that an “undefeated season is a great accomplishment. To do it in power ranking where a team has to play against 16 different opponents is even more amazing.”  

And underclass players Michalina Wojnowski and Emily Velasquez understand the sheer presence of these strong players and they have expressed their gratitude in being part of a positive team that always strives for excellence. 

Rich Acritelli is a social studies teacher at Rocky Point High School and an adjunct professor of American history at Suffolk County Community College.

Shoreham-Wading River senior Justin Depaoli sets up for a shot on goal for the Wildcats in a non-league game Oct 11. Credit: Bill Landon

The Wildcats just keep on winning, which is why they sit atop the league VI leaderboard at 11-1-0 fresh off their non-league 1-0 victory against Jericho, Oct. 11. 

Shoreham-Wading River’s only loss this season was at the hands of Wyandanch two weeks ago. It was Justin Depaoli’s foot that made the difference when the senior midfielder stretched the net in the 2nd half on a solo shot that held up as time expired. Senior goal keep William Devall had six saves on the day for the Wildcats.

Shoreham-Wading River retakes the field with a road game against Mount Sinai Oct. 14 at 4:30 before hosting Elwood John Glenn in their regular season finale Oct. 18. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m. 

— Photos by Bill Landon

Shoreham-Wading River running-back David Tedesco cuts to the outside in the Wildcats 34-20 D-IV championship win April 24. Bill Landon photo

It was Shoreham-Wading River’s Jake Wilson who put the exclamation point on the Wildcats undefeated season, when the running-back powered his way into the endzone four times to lead his team to a 34-20 victory in the D-IV Suffolk Championship against Mount Sinai April 24.

Wilson a senior went out on top compiling 106 yards rushing on 13 carries to conclude his high school varsity football career. Senior quarterback Chris Visintin shined putting the crown on his varsity football career with a 30-yard touchdown run while amassing 114 yards on 9 carries.

Mount Sinai seniors Matthew Graffeo and Derek Takacs both found the endzone as did teammate Gavin Takacs for the Mustangs. The team concludes their 2021 campaign at 3-2 as the Wildcats finished at 6-0.

With this COVID-shortened season, Saturday completed the “fall” season for all Suffolk County varsity sports where competition for spring sports begins May 3.

 Photos by Bill Landon 

Commack sophomore Christian Berbert has appealed to Section XI to be allowed to compete on the girls varsity gymnastics team this season. Photo from the Berbert family

As young as 7, Christian Berbert knew what he wanted to do with his life. After his parents set up a trampoline in the backyard, Christian wasted no time in putting it to good use. The natural-born athlete approached the trampoline less as a fun accessory and more as a mini training facility.

“He was like a dolphin to water,” Wayne Berbert said of his son’s first foray into gymnastics. “He just started jumping and flipping within days of having it. This has always been his sport — nothing compares to this.”

But Christian, a Commack High School sophomore and member of Artistic Gymnastics in Hauppauge, is now being forced to defend his dream in front of a panel of county officials.

Christian, 15, has been repeatedly denied the opportunity to join the high school’s girls varsity gymnastics team this season despite three appeals before Section XI, the governing body of athletics in Suffolk County, since the start of the 2017 school year. Because there aren’t any varsity boys gymnastics team in New York State, competing with the girls is Christian’s only shot to pursue his passion in a school setting.

The sophomore has the overwhelming support from members of the girls gymnastics team, his school’s adminstrator and athletic director.

“We will continue to advocate to provide an opportunity for this young man to compete alongside the girls as we feel it would be in the best interests of our student to participate on the Commack team,” read a statement on the school district’s home page Oct. 10, the day of the most recent appeal.

However, the Section XI panel, headed by Executive Director Thomas Combs, has blocked each request, saying Christian carries too much of a competitive advantage over the girls because he actively trains as a gymnast. There is also a concern among the board that his placement on the team will take a spot away from a girl.

But their arguments don’t hold water, according to Christian’s parents, who have appeared in his defense during the appeals process. Berbert said it’s unfair to claim his son has a competitive advantage since he’s never actually competed against the girls “so there’s no way to determine that.”

He also added that just because Christian’s a boy, it’s wrong to assume he is physically stronger than the girls.

“In gymnastics, strength is not really a determining factor,” Berbert said. “And the girls team doesn’t cut anybody from the team so everyone would be able to participate.”

“It’s deplorable how people in public education can do this to a child,” Christian’s father said. “They should be doing everything in their power to include kids, not exclude them. He’s being told ‘you can’t do the thing you love to do’ and for a 15-year-old kid, that’s tough.”

Christian’s mother, Karen Berbert, said while she agrees with the notion that girls should have equal opportunities, “you can’t diminish the boys and take away from them.”

“The same thing that the board is arguing, that the girls should have every opportunity, and they should, but so should the boys,” said his mother, who fears her son’s inability to compete in high school could affect his chances at receiving scholarships for college. “He wants to be part of the school. He wants to be involved. Gymnastics is his right arm.”

In September, the girls on the team wrote personal letters to Section XI members in support of Christian’s appeal to compete.

Alexandra Lewis, a sophomore gymnast, said the team “will develop more teamwork, school spirit, and positivity by having [him].” Sophomore Stella Rentzeperis wrote it was unfair to deny Christian a chance to compete because “our gymnastics program does not say girls or boys … both genders are allowed.”

Lilli Ferro, a sophomore on the team, said Christian comes to every practice and meet.

“We all really like him and he really wants to be on the team,” Lilli said. “I don’t believe it would hurt us if he was on the team. He would help us.”

Christian’s situation coincides with that of Liam Summers, a 15-year-old sophomore and gymnast at Connetquot High School, who is currently being denied to join his school’s girls team by
Section XI. He was able to be on the team last season because he had never competed in school or in a private club. Now, with more experience, he’s looked at as having a competitive advantage.

Christian, who trains four days a week and three hours each day, said the Section XI board is not
doing the right thing.

“What they’re doing to me and all the other kids trying to do what I’m trying to do is all wrong and completely unfair,” Christian said. “I think I can do real well on the team and give them support and help and just make the team stronger and better. But they don’t see that and, instead, think I’m going to ruin the girls’ chances. They’re completely