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Mount Sinai junior Victoria Johnson scores her 1,000th career point in loss

Mount Sinai's Victoria Johnson scored her 1,000th point in the Mustangs' first-round Class A playoff loss to Harborfields on Feb. 13. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Harborfields enjoyed a 22-point lead midway through the third quarter, and despite Mount Sinai rallying to close within seven points with just over two minutes left in the game, the Tornadoes’ girls’ basketball team closed with a late surge of its own, to claim a 58-47 victory in the opening round of the Class A playoffs Saturday morning.

Mount Sinai led 13-12 after eight minutes, but managed just four points to Harborfields’ 19 in the second.

Harborfields' Christiana de Borja gets fouled by Mount Sinai's Olivia Williams during the Tornadoes' 58-47 win over the Mustangs in the opening round of the Class A playoffs on Feb. 13. Photo by Bill Landon
Harborfields’ Christiana de Borja gets fouled by Mount Sinai’s Olivia Williams. Photo by Bill Landon

Harborfields point guard Christiana de Borja had the hot hand through the first half, as she drove the lane and muscled her way to the rim, drawing fouls along the way. The five-foot, two-inch junior tallied 13 points over the two quarters.

As Mount Sinai double-teamed de Borja, the Mustangs left the lane opened for Harborfields sophomore guard Erin Tucker, who netted four field goals and a free-throw to add nine more points to the Tornadoes’ 31-17 halftime advantage.

“We always play Mount Sinai in other sports, so we know not to underestimate them, and they came out very strong in the first quarter,” Tucker said. “It’s what we expected. They had a tough second quarter, but we knew they’d come back.”

Three-pointers were flying to open the third quarter, as de Borja banked a pair and Mount Sinai junior guard Victoria Johnson swished her second and third of the game, but still, the Tornadoes edged ahead 43-28 to begin the final quarter.

Harborfields' Falyn Dwyer attempts a jumper. Photo by Bill Landon
Harborfields’ Falyn Dwyer attempts a jumper. Photo by Bill Landon

The Mustangs opened the last eight minutes with two fast breaks that paid dividends for Johnson, who was fouled while shooting, and calmly swished both. The back end marked her 1,000th point of her varsity career.

“They’re really tough on defense,” Johnson said of Harborfields. “We ran on them because they’re a very fast team and they were going to try to stop us in the middle. We had one rough quarter, but we gave it our best. We’re a young team so we’ll make a run next year.”

She’s the first basketball player to score 1,000 points as a Mustang.

“That is truly an amazing accomplishment,” Mount Sinai head coach Michael Pappalardo said. “We are so proud of her.”

Tucker netted two more points at the free-throw line for the Tornadoes, to again make it an 11-point game.

Mount Sinai inbounded the ball, throwing it the length of the court, where freshman guard Margaret Kopcienski gained possession and, with a spin move, found the rim to trim the deficit back to nine points.

Mount Sinai junior center Veronica Venezia made here presence known down low as the she muscled her way to the rim on a put-back to help her team trail by seven with 1:41 left in the game, but the Mustangs would not come any closer.

“The second quarter is where we got hurt, but we’re graduating two seniors and we’re returning 12 — including all five starters — so we’re looking forward to the off-season,” Pappalardo said. “[Harborfields has] great players, and to be with them in the final minutes makes me proud of our team.”

Mount Sinai's Gabby Sartori drives the lane. Photo by Bill Landon
Mount Sinai’s Gabby Sartori drives the lane. Photo by Bill Landon

In a foul-riddled final minute, both teams traded points at the charity stripe. Mount Sinai’s Gabby Sartori went to the line shooting three, and the ninth-grade guard swished all of her opportunities.

“They were very good, and we knew they were going to come up strong on defense,” Sartori said. “I was getting face-guarded the whole time, but my team knew what to do. We gave it all we had; we rose the challenge — last year we came here and lost by 30.”

With six seconds left, de Borja, who led her team in scoring with 23 points, put the final points on the scoreboard off of free throws. Tucker finished the game with 12 points.

Atop the leaderboard for Mount Sinai was Johnson with 16 points, followed by Sartori, who sank 13.

“They spotted us 22 points, and we knew they would come back because they have a lot of talented players, but I thought our kids had the resolve to make the big plays to stop those runs,” Harborfields head coach Glenn Lavey said. “Any time we see trouble we get the ball to Christiana de Borja, and having her on the floor is like a security blanket. As much as they were cutting into our lead, I knew we had Chris de Borja on the court.”

Mount Sinai's Veronica Venezia shoots from the top of the key. Photo by Bill Landon
Mount Sinai’s Veronica Venezia shoots from the top of the key. Photo by Bill Landon

With the win, Harborfields advances to the next round, where the Tornadoes take on Elwood-John Glenn on the road Tuesday. Tipoff scheduled for 2 p.m.

The girls from Elwood-John Glenn were in the stands throughout most of the game, sitting quietly together as they scouted their next opponent. The squad left midway through the fourth to get ready for their 2 p.m. game.

“It was really a motivator for us having them watching, because we wanted to show them that we’re a force to be reckoned with,” de Borja said. “We’re excited about playing John Glenn. They’ve always been a rival, so we’re excited about that game.”

Harborfields High School. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

Harborfields’ boys’ basketball team has become one of the most celebrated at the high school in recent years, with the boys winning the League V title for the eighth straight year.

Although this is only John Tampori’s first year as head coach of the Tornadoes, he has been the assistant coach for the last 11 years, and has been able to seamlessly keep their tradition of domination alive.

Tampori served under Chris Agostino, who left the school left last year for Elmont Memorial High School as the school’s new athletic director.

“I’ve known the players, some of them are three- or four-year varsity players,” Tampori said in a phone interview. “They knew me as well. I knew what I was stepping into. I knew exactly what was going on.”

The transition appears to be just as easy for the players, as the team is currently undefeated in the league and look to be in a great spot in the Suffolk County playoffs, which kick off this Friday.

John Tampori has been with the Harborfields Tornadoes for more than a decade. Photo from Tampori
John Tampori has been with the Harborfields Tornadoes for more than a decade. Photo from Tampori

Tampori said he didn’t want to bring too many changes in as the new coach.

“When things are working, you don’t want to change too much,” he said. However, after losing the Suffolk County A Championship last year, he said he wanted to focus on improving shot selection on offense.

“Playing smarter was a thing I had in mind going into this season,” Tampori said. According to the head coach, that included working the ball into a shot that players are more capable of making, and better time management of the game clock.

Harborfields Athletic Director John Valente said Tampori has exceeded expectations.

“Coach John Tampori had some big shoes to fill when Chris Agostino left,” Valente said in an email. “Coach Tampori has stupendous knowledge of the game and knows all the right buttons to push for the team and players to reach all their goals this season. I couldn’t be prouder of the job he has done this season taking over from a successful coach who he served as an assistant coach to for six years. This is now Coach Tampori’s basketball program.”

For this season, Tampori said the starting five are all very special players, and have really contributed to how successful this season has been.

“They all play super hard in practice and get each other better,” he said of the five, who include seniors Alex Bloom, Dan Morgan, Malcolm Wynter and Robert Pecorelli, and junior Alex Merhige.

For what he enjoys the most about coaching the team, he says it comes down to the type of boys they are.

“We’ve always had really good students — as far as their grades — and they must come from really good families, because they’re all very respectful, polite, and just solid, good young men,” Tampori said. “Even when they get off the bus, they say thank you to the bus driver. That’s a little thing, but it still shows who they are.”

As far as the next few weeks and the Suffolk County Championship, Tampori doesn’t like to look too far ahead.

“I just talk about one game at a time,” he said. “I don’t want anybody to look ahead and forget what’s in front of us.”

Aside from boys’ basketball team, Tampori is a special education teacher at the high school, and also coaches boys’ and girls’ junior varsity tennis teams in the fall.

“I enjoy the faculty and the type of students you have,” he said of teaching at Harborfields. “You get really nice kids, they respond to what you have to say to them, it’s a nice environment to work in.”

Comsewogue's Tyler Timpanero leaps up to the rim and scores. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Harborfields’ boys’ basketball team remains undefeated as the Tornadoes took down Comsewogue in a blowout victory, 69-35, in League V basketball action Tuesday night. The Warriors struggled to keep pace, and despite a third quarter rally, Harborfields was too much to handle.

“We caught them a little flat when we came out, but Comsewogue opened the second half and played like we’re used to seeing,” Harborfields head coach John Tampori said. “My guys, they come to play every day and tonight we shot the ball really well.”

Harborfields' Robert Pecorelli battles Comsewogue’s David Heller on the glass. Photo by Bill Landon
Harborfields’ Robert Pecorelli battles Comsewogue’s David Heller on the glass. Photo by Bill Landon

Harborfields led by 10 after three minutes of play, with the Tornadoes finding its three-point rhythm. Harborfields senior guard Robert Pecorelli led the way with four three-pointers, followed by senior guard Malcolm Wynter, who drained three, all in the first quarter, to help the Tornadoes gain momentum and break out to a 34-9 advantage after eight minutes of play.

“We didn’t expect to win by this much,” Wynter said. “We’re in a tough league, but when we play our best we can score and we can stop a lot of teams.”

The Tornadoes’ defensive pressure was relentless from the opening tipoff, and the Warriors struggled to clear the ball. Harborfields junior forward Alex Merhige owned the boards as he led his team with 14 rebounds, highlighted by a two-hand jam on a putback.

From there, the Warriors dug their hole deeper, managing just five more points to the Tornadoes’ 15, for a 49-14 halftime score.

The Warriors opened the second half unlike the first, as their defense came to life, grabbing rebounds while mixing in several fast breaks. Comsewogue senior forward Dylan Cervini led the way, nailing a pair of three-pointers and a free throw for seven points, as teammate David Heller, a sophomore forward and center, banked four. Comsewogue outscored its opponent 16-7 in the third, to begin the final quarter down 56-30.

“We had to keep our intensity up in the second half,” Wynter said. “We obviously slacked off there in the third quarter, but we stayed together, we pushed hard.”

Merhige said his team had to adjust to Comsewogue’s defensive pressure in the third quarter, which proved to be difficult at first.

“They opened the second half guarding us down low, and they boxed out really well and they started grabbing rebounds,” he said. “They came out in the second half and started knocking down threes.”

Harborfields' Alex Merhige scores two points. Photo by Bill Landon
Harborfields’ Alex Merhige scores two points. Photo by Bill Landon

Comsewogue’s rally would be short lived, as the Tornadoes turned up the heat, denying the Warriors a field goal the rest of the way. Comsewogue earned its final five points at the free-throw line.

“We needed better communication on defense and we cleaned that up in the third quarter,” Comsewogue senior guard Travis Williams said. “But we always know what we’re getting from Harborfields. They’re very well coached, so respect to them.”

Joey Carillo, a Comsewogue junior guard, agreed with Williams that Harborfields is a tough competitor and more than his team could handle.

“Coach told us at the half that we needed to work harder, move the ball and trust each other,” Carillo said. “They’re a tough team — if we played like we did in the third quarter, we would’ve had a better game.”

Cervini lead the Warriors with 13 points, followed by Heller with six.

Pecorelli topped the leaderboard with 18 points, Merhige netted 15 and Wynter added 14.

With the win, Harborfields improves to 8-0 in league play, while Comsewogue dropped to 3-5 with four games remaining on its schedule.

The Harborfields boys’ soccer team celebrates its semifinal win over Islip. Photo from Beth Bertossi

The Harborfields boy’s soccer team is moving on to the Suffolk County Class A finals after the No. 2-seeded Tornadoes defeated No. 3 Islip in the semifinals on Tuesday, 2-1.

Almost 20 minutes into the first half, midfielder Brian Root scored on a header off a direct free kick taken by midfielder Ben Barnes.

In the second half, Islip scored the equalizer with a goal from Connor Sharpe.

With three minutes left in regulation, midfielder Owen Lamerson scored with a cross into the top right corner, after receiving a cross pass at the 20-yard line.

Harborfields head coach Daniel Greening said this win was a total team effort.

“The boys played well and won the 50/50 balls, which really determined the course of the game,” Greening said in an email. “I think that was the difference between yesterday and when we played them last. This time, we challenged them and didn’t let them get as many chances to turn on us and go to goal. The boys adjusted really well and it was a pleasure to watch.”

Most of Harborfields’ student body came out to support the boys — packing the stands.

“I really think we beat Islip this time because of the pack of over 150 fans shouting and supporting us,” Lamerson said.

The team had a two-week break between winning the League V title and its first playoff game, and Root said it made the team a bit nervous going in, “but we knew what we had to do,” he said.

Root added that a pregame speech given by goalkeeper Will Merhige hyped the team up.

The last time Harborfields played Islip, the Tornadoes came up very short, losing by four goals.

“We played the ball to feet and we were calm and smart on the ball,” midfielder Gerard Espinoza, said.

Espinoza also said his team played to its opponent’s weaknesses.

“We knew they were quick, so we passed with two to three touches max, and capitalized on their weaknesses, which were free kicks and corner kicks,” he said.

Root echoed the sentiment that the Tornadoes played much quicker this time around.

“We benefited from our fans,” Root said. “The fact that it was the last home game for the seniors made the game a lot more emotional. This game really demonstrated that we have what it takes to move further.”

Lamerson said he feels confident going forward.

“This team will accept nothing but a state title,” he said.

The Tornadoes will host No. 5 Amityville today at Dowling College at 4 p.m.

Tornadoes defeat Rocky Point and break 9-year dry spell for league title, with playoffs on horizon

The Harborfields boys’ varsity soccer team poses before the final game of its regular season. Photo from Gerard Espinoza

The Harborfields boys’ soccer team was crowned league champion on Friday, Oct. 16.

The team comfortably defeated Rocky Point at home, 4-1, to maintain its No. 1 spot in League V, with a 10-2 record.

The Tornadoes hadn’t won a league title since 2006, and for specifically League V, the team hasn’t won in 33 years; since 1982. 

Harborfields’ Brian Root, a senior, scored the first goal 10 minutes into the game, off a rebound from a save by Rocky Point’s goalie. Minutes later, Harborfields committed a foul at the top of the 18-yard line, and Rocky Point’s Xavier Guey-Mock capitalized off a free kick for the equalizer.

With 10 minutes left in the first half, Harborfields senior Chad Terc scored off a corner kick, where the ball was sent into play by senior Gerard Espinoza, to break the tie. Several minutes later, Espinoza assisted again, with a second corner kick, and senior Hunter Cuthbertson sent the ball crashing into the back of the net for the 3-1 advantage.

In the second half, Harborfields junior Spencer Stapleton scored the final goal for the Tornadoes.

It was a fitting end for the team’s senior night, as the crowd was filled with parents and friends who came out to support the upperclassmen who were playing their last home game of the regular season.

Harborfields' Katie Hammer moves the ball downfield in the Tornadoes' 1-0 win over Comsewogue on Oct. 19. Photo by Bill Landon
Comsewogue's Jamie Fischer and Harborfields' Christiana DeBorja battle for possession in the Warriors' 1-0 loss to the Tornadoes on Oct. 19. Photo by Bill Landon
Comsewogue’s Jamie Fischer and Harborfields’ Christiana DeBorja battle for possession in the Warriors’ 1-0 loss to the Tornadoes on Oct. 19. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

The Harborfields girls’ soccer team needed a win to bolster its playoff seeding and got it, blowing through Warriors territory and leaving Comsewogue unable to find its first win of the season. The Tornadoes took the victory, 1-0, on its rival’s senior night.

The lone goal of the game came at the 17:31 mark of the first half when Harborfields junior Caroline Rosales fired a shot from 25 yards out that never touched the ground and slipped under the top post just off the fingertips.

“It was a rebound, and I just hit it off of a defender and I happened to be there and I just ripped one,” Rosales said. “They played hard as you would expect them to — it was their senior game, so of course we expected them to [come at us] hard.”

From there, it was a defensive struggle on both sides of the ball the rest of the way.

“They definitely came out strong, but we stayed with them,” Comsewogue senior Amanda Cirrincione said. “But we played really well today, and we were very strong defensively.”

Harborfields' Caroline Axelson stops the ball while Comsewogue's Haley Cooke tried to stop her in her tracks in the Tornadoes' 1-0 win over the Warriors on Oct. 19. Photo by Bill Landon
Harborfields’ Caroline Axelson stops the ball while Comsewogue’s Haley Cooke tried to stop her in her tracks in the Tornadoes’ 1-0 win over the Warriors on Oct. 19. Photo by Bill Landon

Harborfields’ head coach Scott Wallace said Comsewogue was a different team from the last time they faced each other, when the Tornadoes won 4-0.

“They prevented us from doing what we normally do, which is possess in the midfield, and there they stepped on us,” the coach said. “So I give them a lot of credit. We didn’t play poorly, they just didn’t let us play well.”

Wallace said his defense played well, adding that it was a good team effort that helps prepare his team for the postseason.

“We’re going to finish 8-4, because our opponent on Wednesday forfeited,” Wallace said. “So I think we’ll get the last seed or the second to last seed, so we’re preparing for that. We’re going to be playing one of the top teams in the first round.”

The coach added that if his team can continue to play well defensively the Tornadoes might be able to surprise some people.

Harborfields' Katie Hammer moves the ball downfield in the Tornadoes' 1-0 win over Comsewogue on Oct. 19. Photo by Bill Landon
Harborfields’ Katie Hammer moves the ball downfield in the Tornadoes’ 1-0 win over Comsewogue on Oct. 19. Photo by Bill Landon

Cirrincione said she thought her team moved the ball well, and had good positioning against Harborfields’ solid defense — it’s just that the Warriors missed some opportunities.

Her classmate Jenna Lynch echoed her sentiment.

“I feel that we’ve worked really well together on the field, but we just didn’t get the win,” she said.

The two victories in the Warriors’ record — they are 2-9-1 in League V — were both forfeits by Amityville.

“We haven’t won a game all season — this is a team that’s been executing our game plan to the letter, but just haven’t had a stroke of luck,” Comsewogue head coach James Bentley said. “If you were to rate nine out of 10 things, we’re phenomenal in nine sections — it’s just that we struggle to finish the ball.”

The Warriors will look for that elusive win on Wednesday when they travel to Westhampton Beach for a 4 p.m. matchup.

Harborfields ties game to end 3rd quarter, Eagles score three touchdowns to pull away, 48-33

By Bill Landon

The Rocky Point football team pulled out a 48-33 victory in Saturday’s homecoming game, halting a late rally by visiting Harborfields, which tied the game at 27-27 after three quarters of play. The Eagles watched their first-half 27-12 advantage disappear in the third quarter, to make it a new game in the final 12 minutes of play. Rocky Point was able to outscore its opponent with three touchdowns in the final quarter in front of a capacity crowd, to move to 2-3 in Division III.

Rocky Point sophomore running back Peter LaSalla broke free from the line of scrimmage four minutes into the game and jetted down the left sideline for a 60-yard touchdown run and the first score of the game. Although the extra-point attempt failed, the team took an early 6-0 lead.

A minute later, the Tornadoes were unable to convert on downs, and punted the ball away to junior receiver Sean McGovern, who returned the punt 65 yards for the Eagles’ second touchdown of the game.

“We got a big play from Sean on that punt return,” Rocky Point senior quarterback Harrison Lynch said.

McGovern, also the kicker, finished what he started, and split the uprights to help his team break out to a 13-0 lead.

Harborfields answered back when quarterback Cody Cunningham, on a keeper, punched in for the score, but the Eagles blocked the extra-point kick attempt, to trail the Eagles, 13-6.

Lynch and sophomore Damian Rivera shared quarterback duties all afternoon, and Rivera, under center, passed the ball over to Lynch, who broke outside and went the distance for the touchdown. McGovern’s point-after was good, and the Eagles stretched their lead to 20-6.

Harborfields, on the longest sustained drive of the afternoon that consumed four minutes off the clock, ended its march across the field with a score, despite a penalty-plagued campaign that included a 15- yard unsportsmanlike conduct call. The extra-point kick attempt failed again, and the Tornadoes settled for a 20-12 deficit with just over two minutes left in the half.

Rocky Point looked to put the game away when Lynch, on a play-action pass, found LaSalla open down the right sideline. The running back gathered it in on a catch-and-run play, and recorded a 46-yard score. With the point after, the Eagles took a 27-12 advantage into the halftime break, but that lead didn’t last for long.

Harborfields moved the chains to open the second half only to cough the ball up four minutes in, as Rocky Point took possession on their own 25-yard line. Unable to capitalize, the Tornadoes were on the move again.

On a play-action pass, Harborfields quarterback Cody Cunningham found wide receiver Christian Mullings in the end zone for the score, and after a successful two-point conversion, made it a one-score game, 27-20.

On Rocky Points’ ensuing possession, the Eagles fumbled and Harborfields recovered the ball on the 34- yard line with less than four minutes remaining in the third quarter. On the second play from scrimmage, the Tornadoes cashed in and tied the game 27-27.

McGovern said he was surprised that Harborfields was able to even the score.

“It was a little bit of a shock, but we knew we could get back in it,” McGovern said. “Harry Lynch led us — he motivated. He sure can play; he’s a baller.”

Moving into the fourth quarter, the Eagles knew they had to finish the game the way they started.

“We just had to keep going, so we started the fourth like it was 0-0,” LaSalla said. “We put up the first two touchdowns [to start the game], so we knew we could do it again.”

The Eagles went to work in the final 12 minutes., and Lynch got the ball moving when he fired deep to the senior running back Paul Dominguez for a touchdown pass, as Rocky Point jumped back out in front, 34-27.

Cunningham looking to retie the game, and dropped back to pass, but had to check down, or look for his secondary receivers, and was blindsided just as he released the ball. Rocky Point junior tight end and defensive back Brendan Heggers found himself under the ill-fated pass, and grabbed possession for the interception.

“We came out a little flat after halftime,” Lynch said, “but we picked it up after that interception, and just got things rolling after that.”

The Eagles wasted no time in cashing in on Harborfield’s miscue, and sophomore running back Alec Rinaldi plowed his way up the middle to find the end zone. McGovern split the pipes once again, and the Eagles surged ahead 41-27 with seven minutes left to play.

Harborfields wouldn’t go quietly, and Cunningham bulled his way up the middle for six points, but the extra-point attempt missed. Rocky Point put the game away with just under two minutes remaining when Rinaldi struck again, and the successful point-after brought the final score to 48-33.

“Harborfields is a tough team,” Lynch said. Opening the fourth quarter, the quarterback said: “We gotta get it done. We’ve just gotta find a way to get it done; it’s as simple as that.”

And the Eagles did.

Rocky Point will hit the road Saturday as the team heads to Miller Place. Opening kickoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.

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The rain couldn’t put a damper on the Harborfields Tornadoes last weekend, as the Class of 2015 celebrated the 56th annual commencement on Saturday, June 27.

Gowns of green and white could be spotted, and seniors were greeted with cheers from the stands and triumphant sounds delivered by the high school band.

Salutatorian Jamie Letourneau, Class President Katherine Ryan and Valedictorian Eli Slamowitz spoke fondly of their classmates and provided words of encouragement for the future.

The ceremony also featured speeches by Superintendent Diana Todaro, Principal Rory Manning and English teacher Kristen Gavin.

Harborfields’ Mikayla Bergin reaches over an East Islip defender and rockets the ball toward the cage in the Tornadoes’ 14-13 win Tuesday. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Down 3-0 five minutes into the game, the Harborfields girls’ lacrosse team may have been down but not out, battling back to edge out host East Islip 14-13 Tuesday to continue a four-game winning streak.

“They left everything out on the field and as a coach, win or lose, when your girls play with heart and pride and never give up, that’s the greatest moment,” Harborfields head coach Kerri McGinty said. “You’re always going to have lulls in a game, but it’s about perseverance, being resilient and coming out on top.”

With 18:07 left to play in the first half, after junior midfielder and attack Angela Deren intercepted a pass, she sent the ball to junior attack Caitlin Schaefer, who dumped it in up high in front of the net for the Tornadoes’ first point.

Harborfields began winning possession of the ground balls off the draw, and four minutes after her first goal, Schaefer came through with another goal off a pass after a foul call to pull within one, 3-2.

Harborfields’ Caitlin Schaefer, who finished the game with six goals, scoops up a ground ball. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Harborfields’ Caitlin Schaefer, who finished the game with six goals, scoops up a ground ball. Photo by Desirée Keegan

After two East Islip goals, the Tornadoes answered with two of their own to pull within a goal again, and after winning the next draw, junior midfielder Ella Simkins pushed her way up to the front of the net and sent a straight shot to the back of the cage. Her goal tied the game 5-5 with 5:49 left in the half, but a minute later, East Islip countered to maintain the lead.

“We really worked as a team today,” Simkins said. “Every game we play, we play with so much heart. It’s amazing to see everyone get each other’s back. Even if they score a goal we’re back and scoring even more.”

And Simkins did.

The junior midfielder opened the scoring of the second half with another goal to yet again tie the game, and Schaefer scored her hat trick goal on the next play less than a minute later off an assist from senior midfielder, attack and co-captain Nicole Bifulco, to give the Tornadoes their first lead of the game, 7-6.

“We knew we had to prepare for this game and the last few practices it’s been all about preparing for East Islip and it was so awesome as a coach to see everything we practiced come to fruition,” McGinty said. “You get down, but you have to stay up and that’s something we talk about in practice.”

The teams continued to trade the lead until sophomore midfielder Falyn Dwyer scooped up a ground ball and rushed to an open front of the net and, from the right side, knocked it into the opposite corner for a 13-11 advantage with 6:42 left to play.

East Islip countered at 5:20, and after possession flip-flopped to both sides of the field, Bifulco netted a goal of her own before East Islip again made it a one-goal game.

Harborfields’ Nicole Bifulco maintains possession of the ball with two East Islip players at her hip. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Harborfields’ Nicole Bifulco maintains possession of the ball with two East Islip players at her hip. Photo by Desirée Keegan

The Tornadoes’ defense held it down with a minute left, and with two ticks on the clock, the team forced a turnover to seal the deal.

“It’s such an adrenaline rush; my heart’s beating out of my chest — to storm the field with everybody is amazing,” Schaefer said following the win. “Our hard work paid off, and it’s important for us to stick together as a family and keep our effort and consistency up.”

McGinty said she always believes that her team will come through in the end.

“I think my defense did a hell of a job,” she said. “Defense really never gets the recognition attack gets, but coming down to the draw controls, the doubles, that last few minutes holding them off. Every single component on the field came together.”

Schaefer finished with six goals, Simkins tallied two goals and three assists and Deren tacked on a goal and three assists to lead Harborfields in points.

With the win, the Tornadoes improve to 5-1 in Division II and look to extend their winning streak when they travel to Westhampton on Thursday at 4 p.m.

“No game is ever perfect, you can always get better,” McGinty said. “You can always improve, so we go into the rest of the schedule, it’s pretty tough, but we hope we can keep rolling with the wins.”

Kings Park’s Ben Variano maintains possession while Harborfields’ Terrence Haggarty tries to knock him off balance. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

The King Park boys’ lacrosse team struck first in a League III matchup on a muddy field in a wet, wintry mix, and led twice early in the game, but Harborfields found its rhythm and stomped over the Kingsmen Tuesday to win the game, 12-4.

Kings Park junior midfielder Jimmy Gadaleta hit the scoreboard first to take an early lead, but Harborfields senior attack Terrence Haggerty answered back with an unassisted goal to tie the game. It was Haggerty’s first of five goals to lead his team in scoring.

With less than five minutes left in the quarter, Kings Park retook the lead when senior attacks Joe Hines and Alex Marino connected on the next play. Hines dished the ball to Marino, who found the cage to retake the lead, 2-1.

Harborfields midfielder Andrew Derasmo fed a cross to Haggerty, who fired between the pipes to tie the game at 2-2 to start the second period.

Kings Park head coach J.M. Simpson said Harborfields runs a solid program and have a system that they’ve been successful with for years.

“We kind of knew what we were going to get ourselves into today, but we didn’t do a very good job of executing our game plan,” he said. “We knew they were going to come out and pressure us and we weren’t able to handle that pressure.”

Kings Park's Jac Cutillo drives around Harborfields’ Connor Bennardo. Photo by Bill Landon
Kings Park’s Jac Cutillo drives around Harborfields’ Connor Bennardo. Photo by Bill Landon

Harborfields senior attack Connor Bennardo struck next when he scored unassisted to put his team back out in front by one. Haggerty, with the hot hand, hit next to edge ahead 4-2 when Kings Park senior midfielder Ray McQuillan answered with a goal of his own off an assist by senior attack Liam Winwood to trail by one, 4-3.

“Today’s game plan was to work hard and beat them to the ground balls and outrun them on the field,” Haggerty said. “In the second half, offensively we got rolling, we scored in transition and with a man up, and we were able to outrun them.”

Both teams had trouble getting traction on a wet, muddy field, but Bennardo scored again to edge ahead 5-3 to end the half.

“From a talent standpoint we’re about even, but I think we outworked them — we got the ground balls and our middies were running all over the place,” Bennardo said. “And that makes us look good on attack, so I can’t thank them enough.”

The second half was all Harborfields, as Haggerty dove around the circle from behind the cage and slipped one in-between the pipes to break out to a 6-3 advantage with seven minutes left in the third.
Harborfields head coach Glenn Lavey chose not to brief his team about Kings Park from a recent scouting report.

“We lost [our opener] by nine goals against Shoreham, so it was more about us, even though there were some things I would’ve liked to prepare them for from the scouting report, but it was more about where Harborfields needs to be,” Lavey said. “So we didn’t tell them one thing about our opponent. We just showed up and played our style.”

Harborfields senior midfielder Tristan Capes-Davis added one of his own halfway through the third to surge ahead 7-3, and by that time, there was no stopping the Tornadoes. Senior midfielder Cameron LaPorta found the cage for the next two scores, to jump out to a 9-3 lead with nine minutes left to play, when Kings Park sophomore midfielder Jac Cutillo tacked on his team’s final point, to trail 9-4.

Before it was over, Harborfields tacked on three more goals with Haggerty’s fifth, Bennardo’s third for the hat trick, and junior attack Quintin McKenna added one of his own to put the game away.

“We made them earn everything today and they gave us a couple of opportunities in transition, and that was the difference,” Lavey said. “Our kids did a good job at grinding and controlling the speed and the tempo of the game, which gave our middies a chance to rest.”

Kings Park senior goalkeeper Harrison Bower had a busy day, and when the dust settled, he had notched 15 saves.

“Harrison Bower’s a senior and a first-year starter who’s been waiting in the wings for a couple of years now,” Simpson said. “He’s been tremendous in our first three games this season, so I give a lot of credit to him.”

With the win, Harborfields improves to 1-1 in League III, after suffering an 18-9 loss to Shoreham-Warding River, while Kings Park dropped to 1-2 in League III, after an 8-6 loss to Elwood-John Glenn and a 10-9 win over Westhampton.

Kings Park will look to bounce back on Tuesday, April 7, when the Kingsmen host Islip. The game is currently slated with an 11 a.m. start time.