Tags Posts tagged with "West Islip"

West Islip

by -
0 1133
Jesse DiStasio stretches his arms over the goal line for the game-winning touchdown. Photo by Jim Ferchland

By Jim Ferchland

Centereach’s football team scored four touchdowns in 18 minutes to erase a 28-0 West Islip lead and send the game into overtime Oct. 28. After West Islip was held to a field goal, Centereach senior Jesse DiStasio scored the game-winning touchdown in a 34-31 come-from-behind thriller.

Jay Morwood tosses a pass. Photo by Jim Ferchland

After a 32-yard field goal by West Islip’s Bobby Dicapua, Centereach had an opportunity to win the game with a touchdown. Senior quarterback Jay Moorwood rushed out of the pocket avoiding pressure and connected with DiStasio, who was running on a deep slant and caught the pass at the 2-yard line before lunging with outstretched arms over the goal line for the 20-yard touchdown.

“The defender stopped me short,” DiStasio said. “I stretched over and I just started crying. I couldn’t believe it; I just saw everybody running to me. It was the best feeling of my life.”

West Islip led 28-7 heading into the fourth quarter. Morwood’s athleticism, vision and elusiveness outside the pocket made him a threat West Islip couldn’t contain. After throwing three interceptions, Morwood’s performance emerged in the fourth quarter with three crucial touchdowns. He finished with 276 passing yards on 19 completions with four touchdowns.

“I had all the confidence in the world in my team,” Morwood said on that final overtime possession. “I knew we were scoring. No one was stopping us. It didn’t matter who was getting the ball. I knew we were going to score no matter what.”

Jesse DiStasio celebrates the win with his teammates. Photo by Jim Ferchland

West Islip quarterback Mike LaDonna supplied all the offense for the Lions with his legs. He had 22 carries for 191 yards on the ground with four touchdowns.

“I’ve never been a part of playing or coaching a better comeback in the second half of a game,” Centereach head coach Adam Barrett said. “We kind of wanted to forget that first half. It was one of the best games I’ve ever been apart of.”

Centereach junior wide receiver and kick returner Devin Demetres ignited a spark after West Islip went up four scores. He broke free of multiple tackles on a 98-yard kick return and took the ball back for a touchdown, and the Cougars continued to plant their foot on the gas peddle.

Morwood took the offense under his wing with his scrambling ability and accuracy. He connected with his 6-foot, 2-inch senior wide receiver Chris Witherspoon on a 23-yard touchdown in the far right corner of the end zone to cut the deficit to 15, and launched the ball to Demetres into double coverage, which was was tipped by a West Islip defender before landing in Demetres’ hands for a 65-yard touchdown to make it 28-20.

“Jay made a great throw and the defense undercut it,” said Demetres, who had four receptions for 110 yards. “They cut it it too much and I knew they were going to tip it up, so I just kept my focus on the ball.”

Devin Demetres races into the end zone for a touchdown. Photo by Jim Ferchland

Senior running back Alec Kiernan, who carried Centereach’s offense all season long, was shut down by West Islip’s defense, which even forced a fumble on him. Although he was not a contributor on offense, he made a big defensive play on West Islip’s next drive.

Kiernan intercepted a pass with 4:20 left to play, and took the ball into Lions territory.

“We had the momentum before that play,” Kiernan said. “That play definitely set up a beautiful drive by Jay [Morwood]. We knew we had a chance.”

The interception resulted in Morwood’s touchdown to Demetres from 11 yards out with 2:38 left. Centereach converted on a two-point conversion to tie the game 28-28.

“It’s not a one person game,” Kiernan said of the comeback. “It’s a team game. We love each other and that’s how our team plays.”

Centereach finishes the regular season at 7-1 in Division I. Ranked No. 3 in the postseason, the Cougars will host No. 6 Bay Shore at 2 p.m. in the No. 4 qualifying round game.

“Every coach wants to go 8-0 every year and win the championship,” Barrett said. “Since I got to Centereach four years ago, we were always building. For the way the program was, we’re just getting better every year and continue to be successful.”

by -
0 1285
Dylan Pallonetti moves the ball around the cage. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Ward Melville’s boys’ lacrosse team suffered a stinging defeat to end their season- opening four-game winning streak against rival Chaminade April 8, dropping the tough nonleague battle 7-5.

“We didn’t play as best as we could against Chaminade,” senior attack Jack Purdy said, adding that despite the Patriots’ 9-5 bounce-back win over West Islip April 10, to increase the team’s League I win streak to five, more work still needs to be done. “We’re still trying to look for the best game possible. We’re still looking to fire on all cylinders on defense, offense and faceoffs.”

Zach Hobbes challenges a West Islip defender as he moves the ball toward the net. Photo by Desirée Keegan

In the first half of the win over West Islip, junior attack Matt Grillo had his fingerprints all over the game. He scored the first goal of the game, assisted senior midfielder Eddie Munoz on the next, and found the back of the cage off a feed from sophomore attack Dylan Pallonetti later.

“We prepared by watching film on West Islip and looking for their plays and certain techniques they use on the field, and how to counter those techniques,” Munoz said of his team’s readiness. “But it was so close in the first half.”

West Islip came back to tie it, 3-3, but Grillo scored an unassisted goal for a hat trick with three seconds left in the first half.

“I think both of our faceoff guys did very well and so did our goalie,” Munoz said. “I think as a whole we played for each other and gave great effort.”

Matt Grillo and Dom Pryor celebrate a goal. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Ward Melville came out firing from the opening minutes of the second half, and at the 10:51 mark, a Perry Cassidy save, one of the senior’s 10 for the game, sparked junior midfielder Zach Hobbes’ unassisted goal. He bulled his way up the middle between two defenders to the front of the cage to extend the lead. Minutes later, Pallonetti scooped up a Grillo rebound and gave his team a 6-3 advantage. Cassidy ended the quarter with a save to preserve the third-quarter shutout.

“It felt good to dominate a little bit,” Munoz said of the second half.

Senior midfielder Dominic Pryor was next to get on the scoreboard. Catching West Islip off guard, he saw the open lane, and instead of passing, made his way toward the cage and fired away.

“It was great to seal the win in the second half against a team that’s more than capable of coming back when they are down,” Pryor said. “My team was able to focus on possessions in the second half, and overall playing team offense and defense, not relying on any individual. The chemistry this team has is very special and I think that will continue and grow throughout the year.”

Purdy had a hand on the next two goals, assisting Pallonetti, who had an open look after Purdy skipped passing to the middleman.

Jack Purdy passes from behind the goal to Dylan Pallonetti, who scores on the skip pass. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“I knew he was open,” Purdy said of Pallonetti. “He did a good job of reading the defense and getting in the right position. I gave it to him, and he took a good shot to the top left.”

Despite West Islip finally breaking through in the second half, with back-to-back goals with four minutes remaining, Purdy helped stabilize the game. He passed from behind the cage to Munoz at the front of the net for the final goal of the game.

“Eddie Munoz made a good shot right in front of the crease that saved me,” Purdy said. “It wasn’t the best pass, but a good goal.”

The senior attack said he hopes his team can continue to work on coming out strong, to be able to keep a new streak running through the remainder of the season.

“We need to step it up a little bit in the first half,” Purdy said. “We let up a few goals that we shouldn’t have, and we need to hold onto the ball better on offense, move it around and get better shots. We try to get out and score, put a bunch of goals in, dodge hard and look for the open seams in the defense. Coach said when we play to our best abilities we can win any given game on the schedule.”

by -
0 1412
Bryan Yanes grabs a pass downfield. Photo by Desirée Keegan

By Desirée Keegan

With a 2-1 win over West Islip Oct. 7, the 8-1-1 Newfield boys’ soccer team is one step closer to being named League III champions.

Rafael Celanti moves the ball through midfield. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Rafael Celanti moves the ball through midfield. Photo by Desirée Keegan

The route to that ultimate goal will continue to challenge the Wolverines, with teams like West Islip fighting for postseason life, and others, like No.1 Smithtown West (10-1), challenging them for the top spot.

“We told them that against a lot of teams that are fighting for their playoff lives, it’s going to get chippy,” Newfield head coach Jamie Santiago said. “But they need to maintain composure, because a lot of teams are going to get them off their game and push them out of their element.”

West Islip did just that in the first half. After scoring the first goal of the game, tempers flared and pushing and shoving resulted in multiple yellow cards for both teams.

Heading into halftime still down a goal, the referees pulled aside captains from both teams to talk about the physicality.

“It happens — they talk — it’s a game, and I told the team to just relax,” senior center back John Alves said. “We’re trying to win the league here, so I told my guys to keep their hands down, get the ball, calm down and to just play our game.”

Mike DiDominico sends the ball into play. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Mike DiDominico sends the ball into play. Photo by Desirée Keegan

The Wolverines opened up the second half very differently. They finally broke through midfield and into West Islip’s zone.

Almost 10 minutes into the second half, senior midfielder Anthony Mauri grabbed a pass, raced around his opponents through midfield, and sent the ball up top to Rafael Celanti. One-on-one with a defender as he made his way to the box, the sophomore midfielder and center forward won the battle, and stuffed the ball into the left corner past a diving goalkeeper to even the score.

“I thought the defender was going to come in at me, so I took a touch forward and got past him,” Celanti said. “Then, it was just me and the goalie and I tapped it into the corner and felt a rush of excitement. This was an important win.”

Celanti had plenty of other opportunities in the game, which impressed his coach.

“Raphael Celanti had a great game,” Santiago said. “He scored, and he missed a couple of headers, but he was just all over the field creating a lot of opportunities. I thought our center midfielders also played a great second half.”

Winning the 50/50 balls was a key to the team’s second-half success.

“When you go down you think you’re going to keep getting scored on, but our team, we get back up — our hearts are always in the game,” Alves said. “So we kept possession — winning the first and second ball — we’re not scared of going into tackles, we’re not scared of shooting the ball. It’s all about going hard and having heart.”

Adrian Izzaguire battles for the ball. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Adrian Izzaguire battles for the ball. Photo by Desirée Keegan

With 14 minutes left, senior forward Michael DiDominico headed in the game-winner.

“We gave up a bad goal early — we got punished for being slow out of the gate — but as the game went on we built momentum and finally started playing the way we’re capable of, and we turned the tide our way,” Santiago said. “That’s what good teams do. They find a way to win even when they’re not playing their best game.”

He’s hoping his team can do the same thing against Smithtown West Oct. 14. Newfield faced off against the Bulls Sept. 17 and came out on top 2-0, handing the team its only loss of the season.

“It’s a really, really big game,” Santiago said. “Hopefully they can pull out a big win. We have good senior leadership with a great core of young kids — we start five sophomores out of the 11 — and it’s just a good mix. This is one of the best teams I’ve had in my 12 years being a coach. They’re going to fight to the end.”

by -
0 2076
Kayla Kosubinsky races to the ground ball. Photo by Desirée Keegan

The Smithtown West girls’ lacrosse team walked onto the Dowling Sports Complex field Tuesday donning shirts that said “one team, one fight.”

Although senior midfielder Natalia Lynch stole the show by scoring six goals, it’s what her team had been through all season that made the season special.

Natalia Lynch grabs possession off the draw. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Natalia Lynch grabs possession off the draw. Photo by Desirée Keegan

The Bulls never made it to the Suffolk County finals, and although they were the No. 1 seed with a near perfect record, they were overlooked. Smithtown West battled a tough No. 3-seed West Islip team — the only opponent the Bulls lost to in the regular season — and remained neck-and-neck to the end, when the more experienced team battled back to come out on top, 9-8.

“It was amazing — they played phenomenal all season,” Smithtown West head coach Carie Bodo said of the run her girls had. “We played them much better than we did the first time we beat them. We knew, as much as we were the No. 1 seed, that we were the underdogs because they’ve already been here four years in a row. They know how to play this game.”

Lynch tallied a hat trick in the first half with her second goal off an assist from her best friend and longtime teammate Mackenzie Heldberg.

Jessica English defends against a West Islip attack. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Jessica English defends against a West Islip attack. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“It’s been unreal since first grade, playing with someone as amazing as she is — it definitely made the game easier,” Heldberg said of Lynch. “We just had a special connection on the field that not everyone else has and she’s made me so successful and brings out the best lacrosse player in me.”

Also scoring for the Bulls in the first half were junior midfielder Kayla Kosubinsky and junior attack Chelsea Witteck. Senior converted-goalkeeper Marissa D’Amico made big stops between the pipes to keep the score 5-5 at the end of the first half.

“We did what we thought we needed to do,” Bodo said. “We covered certain people. We knew that if we played them tight, they’d be forced to make tough shots and miss the cage because we swarm them so good, so the defense did an amazing job. We had opportunities at the end to come up with the goal, but we just didn’t come up with it.”

Lynch gained possession off the draw, like she had done all night, to open the second half, and after passing it to Heldberg, received a feed from her friend in front of the cage and dumped in her fourth goal of the game.

Chelsea Witteck leads the team in celebration of her goal. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Chelsea Witteck leads the team in celebration of her goal. Photo by Desirée Keegan

D’Amico made back-to-back saves after a West Islip goal to maintain the stalemate, and on a diving play, Lynch fired her fifth goal of the game. She won possession off the next draw, but wouldn’t impact the play again after being sidelined for two minutes, with 2:21 left to play.

“She played an amazing game,” Bodo said of Lynch. “It was a killer, she got that penalty at the end. She played a great game.”

Witteck netted her second goal of the game off an assist from Heldberg, for the only other score of the second half, to put the team up 8-6 with 7:03 left in the game, but West Islip rallied back with three unanswered goals for the 9-8 lead with 1:24 left to play. The Lions raced up and down the field until time expired to seal the victory.

“I’m super proud of them,” Bodo said of her team. “For us it was a win. We were ranked No. 3 in the preseason and Newsday didn’t even rank us, MSG Varsity doesn’t ever give us anything, so no one thought we would do anything. For us, we did it for ourselves. We didn’t do it for Newsday’s publicity or MSG Varsity’s publicity; we worked hard all season to prove it to ourselves.”

The players said they were proud of how far they’ve come.

Mackenzie Heldberg charges toward the cage. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Mackenzie Heldberg charges toward the cage. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“The loss hurt a lot, but for a team who never got much credit for anything we did — just making it to counties and playing a hell of a game against a team as talented as West Islip, there is nothing to hold our heads down for,” Heldberg said. “Coming here and experiencing this for the first time in Smithtown West girls lacrosse history was truly something amazing and something to be proud of.”

Although she, Lynch and D’Amico, along with three other senior nonstarters will be leaving the team, Bodo is excited for the future now that the Bulls are starting to move in the right direction and continues to make playoff strides each season. Kosubinsky said that after all of the doubt, Smithtown West lacrosse showed what it’s really made of.

“I know I’ve never seen Smithtown West girls lacrosse play with so much heart, and even with a loss, I’ve never been so proud of my team,” Kosubinsky said. “We had an amazing season and every single person contributed to that. Tonight we walked off the field with our heads held high because we know we played our hearts out.”

Girls' lacrosse team's Jamie Ortega scores six in quarterfinal win, Mad Dogs will host rival West Islip in semis

Jamie Ortega, who scored six goals in the win, makes her way down the field. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Junior midfielder Jamie Ortega started and capped off a 7-0 run that helped Middle Country mow down Sachem North, 14-9, in the Division I Class A quarterfinals Friday — and running is the name of the Mad Dogs’ game.

“This is our run to the counties,” junior midfielder and attack Ava Barry said of her 16-1 team that is now on an 11-game win streak. “We did really well moving the ball down the field and really using our speed.”

Sophie Alois races across the field as she carries the ball into Sachem North's zone. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Sophie Alois races across the field as she carries the ball into Sachem North’s zone. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Middle Country raced up and down the field, and despite being double-teamed the entire way, Ortega muscled her way past defenders, firing shot after shot.

“Finding Jamie, even though she was faceguarded, that was definitely helpful,” senior defender Jordynn Aiello said. “Everyone was used today.”

Ortrega scored twice more during the seven-run spurt, freshman attack Sophie Alois tacked on two goals and Barry netted one.

“I think we shot well and we transitioned the ball,” Middle Country head coach Lindsay Dolson said. “I think we rode really well in their transition.”

Ahead 11-3 to open the second half, Barry scored less than a minute in, Oretga added another and, after a Sachem North score, Barry tallied her hat trick goal after swiveling around defenders and dumping the ball in up high, off a feed in front of the cage.

“We knew coming in here that we had to play our game,” Aiello said. “It wasn’t our best game, but we pulled it out and played together, and that’s what counts.”

No. 2 Middle Country will face No. 3 West Islip in the semifinals on Wednesday at Newfield High School at 4 p.m.

West Islip has proven to be the Mad Dogs’ Achilles’ heel the last two seasons, knocking out Middle Country in the semifinals in 2014, 12-11, with one second left in regulation, and edging out the team in the finals in double overtime last year, 11-10.

Emily Diaz reaches for possession off the draw. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Emily Diaz reaches for possession off the draw. Photo by Desirée Keegan

But the team topped West Islip this season, 9-3, on April 29. Dolson said she thinks that the past years’ experience will help the team heading into the final rounds.

“We’re on to the next one,” she said. “We’ve been there before, so I think the experience will definitely help us hopefully get to the finals after West Islip.”

For players like Aiello, she wants to make sure her Mad Dogs stays focused on the next task at hand, to not get ahead of themselves.

“We need to make sure we keep our minds set on our goal and take it one game at a time,” she said. “Right now we’re looking forward to Wednesday versus West Islip and we have to come in and know that our goal is to beat them. We have to make sure we come out hard, stay strong on defense, cut off their big scorers and make sure we put the ball in the back of the net.”

If Middle Country wins on Wednesday, the team will face the winner of the Smithtown West/Northport matchup. Regardless of who the opponent may be if Middle Country makes it, Aiello said she has enjoyed the ride.

“We’ve been strong from the beginning,” Aiello said. “Coming into this season I had a good, strong feeling about these girls. A majority of us have been playing together since fourth grade. I’m very sad it’s my last season playing with them since I grew up with them, but I know we have something special on this field and I don’t want it to go to waste.”

Rachel Masullo reaches for the loose ball. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Rachel Masullo reaches for the loose ball. Photo by Desirée Keegan

by -
0 1364
Smithtown's Chris Crespo leaps up to the rim between West Islip defenders. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Defense won the Bulls this basketball game.

The Smithtown West boys’ basketball team came out blocking shot after shot against a tall West Islip team, outscoring the competition 55-28 in its League III opener.

“I loved the defensive intensity. The defense is our backbone this year,” Smithtown West head coach Mike Agostino said. “We like to hold a team under 30 points. We have to defend, we have to help each other and play pressure defense, and that’s what gives us extra possessions and gets us extra shots.”

Smithtown's Greg Giordano moves the ball up the court. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Smithtown’s Greg Giordano moves the ball up the court. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Although the Bulls won by a wide margin, the game wasn’t always that way.

After more than three minutes of play, both teams were scoreless. It wasn’t until the 4:36 mark that senior Matt English nailed the tail end of his free-throw attempts to get the first point on the board.

A minute went by until the team scored again, with senior Doug Levy coming up with a big block before sophomore Chris Crespo intercepted an inbound pass and converted it for two points. After another Levy block, West Islip called a timeout.

“The first half, we didn’t get shots to fall, but we were playing really good defense,” Crespo said. “Shots blocked, a lot of steals, points on turnovers and a lot of good stuff like that, so I think the defense really helped us win this game.”

At the 1:11 mark, English scored on a putback to extend the Bulls’ lead to 5-0, but a West Islip field goal and three-pointer sandwiching junior Kyle LaGuardia’s free throw and field goal off a rebound on his own free-throw miss brought the score to 8-5 at the end of the first quarter.

Nick Grande looks to make a pass for Smithtown. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Nick Grande looks to make a pass for Smithtown. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Crespo started off the second stanza with a three-pointer, and after a West Islip field goal, Levy added a putback and junior Gordon Shouler followed with a three-pointer of his own to extend the team’s lead to 16-7.

“Going into the second and especially in the third quarter, we were really getting our shots to fall,” Crespo said. “And still, the defense continued to remain strong.”

By the halftime break, Smithtown West had doubled West Islip’s score, 24-12.

“We don’t shoot as much as other teams have, but we do have plenty of guys that can shoot and get hot quick,” Agostino said. “We just have to find our rhythm, but this is only our second game.”

English and senior guard Nick Grande powered the Bulls through the third. First, English began the scoring with a putback, and after four West Islip points, Grande started off his scoring for the evening with a field goal.

English swished two free-throw points, and West Islip scored a field goal of its own, but Grande answered back when he converted a putback for two.

West Islip grabbed another rebound, but Grande nailed a three-pointer to extend the Bulls’ lead to 37-18. The two teams traded field goals again and West Islip tacked on a two free throws to bring the score to 39-22.

Gordon Shouler defends for Smithtown. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Gordon Shouler defends for Smithtown. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“Everything starts on defense and I think we played four full quarters of defense, so that’s always going to keep you in the game,” Grande said.

What helped the team besides its defense was having a myriad of players that can score. Eight different players contributed to the team’s total score, which isn’t common.

“When other teams are getting fatigued, we’re still rotating new guys in,” Grande said. “It definitely puts a lot of pressure on them to keep up with us.”

Five different players scored in the fourth quarter, and by midway through the final eight minutes, Agostino was able to swap in his bench players to get playing time.

Grande and Shouler finished with 11 points each, Crespo added eight with six assists and three rebounds, and English scored seven points and had seven rebounds.

“Even those guys that are coming in late in the game, they’re doing the same thing,” the head coach said. “They’re defending, they’re being aggressive, they’re rebounding and it’s those constant waves of aggression that are coming at teams that I think can really help us down the line.”

Agostino would like to see some improvements in the team’s offensive game, but so far, he likes what he’s seeing.

“Once that happens,” he said of the progression throughout the season, “I think we’ll be really tough to beat.”

Smithtown West travels to Newfield on Thursday, with tipoff scheduled for 5:45 p.m.

A county police car sits outside the Smithtown Planned Parenthood. Photo by Jared Cantor

A deadly shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado has spurred Suffolk County into action with a growing police presence surrounding similar clinics in Huntington and Smithtown.

Robert Lewis, 57, allegedly opened fire at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic on Nov. 27, killing three and injuring nine, according to published reports in the Associated Press. And while the horrific scene may have occurred more than 1,000 miles away, the Suffolk County Police Department said it was taking no chances when it comes to protecting clinics on the Island.

In a statement, the department said it would be increasing patrols near the five Planned Parenthood clinics throughout Suffolk, including those at 755 New York Ave. in Huntington and 70 Maple Ave. in Smithtown. Police vehicles were stationed at both buildings for much of the week so far, but the department said there were not any credible threats targeting any county clinics.

“While no specific threats have been made toward Planned Parenthood locations in Suffolk County, the department will enhance patrols and remain in contact with other law enforcement agencies for the most up-to-date information regarding the potential for similar attacks,” the department said in a statement.

Planned Parenthood clinics also reside in Patchogue, Riverhead and West Islip.

When reached for comment, both the Huntington and Smithtown Planned Parenthood clinics deferred to a statement from Reina Schiffrin, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic, who spoke of grief for those affected by the horrific shooting.

“The hearts of the staff at Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic are with the families of the victims of this senseless tragedy, as well as our colleagues across the country and particularly PP of the Rocky Mountains,” she said. “The safety and security of our patients and staff has always been our top priority, and we are very grateful to the Suffolk County Police for their response to this event and for expanding their presence at our five health centers in Suffolk County. Our doors remain open and we will continue to provide high quality health care to the women, men and teens of Suffolk County.”

Suffolk County cops also teamed up with Planned Parenthood administrators this week to offer crime prevention training, the department said in a statement. The goal of the crime prevention program, the department said, is to reduce opportunities for crime at sensitive locations while also combatting fear.

“Suffolk Police officers will assess the locations and provide information on how building design and environmental influences can affect human and criminal behavior,” the department said in a statement. “Officers will speak to Planned Parenthood officials about the importance of camera systems, target hardening, natural surveillance, facility access control, and territorial reinforcement which may be used to decrease crime.”

Planned Parenthood has roughly 700 health centers across the country, with each clinic serving as a hub for affordable health care and sex education. Its practices have been an ongoing source of controversy, mostly relating to its work in providing abortion and greater contraception services for women.

This year’s Class A playoff game looked a lot like last season’s semifinal matchup, as the Middle Country girls’ lacrosse team and West Islip remained tied nearing the end of regulation. However, this time the game went into overtime, but the result was still the same: West Islip came out on top.

“It’s a little bittersweet now that the seniors are gone and to end it like this,” Middle Country head coach Lindsay Dolson said. “We knew what we had to do, and unfortunately we came up a little bit short. They were the better team today.”

Last season, the Mad Dogs went 12-6 overall with a 10-4 mark in Division I, and lost to the Lions, 12-11, with one second left in regulation. This year, the girls improved those records to 18-1 and 14-0, but little did they know they’d be squaring off against the same Lions squad. This time around, the stakes were that much higher, as Middle Country was just one goal away from winning the school’s first Suffolk County title with minutes left in regulation.

“They’re a great group of kids,” Dolson said of her team. “I know they wouldn’t quit on us, and they fought until the bitter end.”

West Islip dominated the draw early and rattled off three unanswered goals in the first three minutes of play before Middle Country won its first draw, and converted that possession into points.

With 21:51 remaining, senior midfielder and attack Nikki Ortega dumped the ball in front off an assist from sophomore midfielder Rachel Masullo, but the Lions won the next possession and grabbed an offensive rebound for a goal and a 4-1 advantage.

West Islip tacked on another goal before sophomore midfielder Jamie Ortega scored to cut the deficit, 5-2.
Rachel Masullo’s twin sister Amanda, also a sophomore midfielder, scored next off a free position goal, and Nikki Ortega found the back of the net after receiving a backwards pass that caused some confusion in front of the net, to pull her team within one, 5-4.

With 7:12 remaining in the first half, Nikki Ortega passed the ball from the left goalside to sophomore attack Ava Barry, whose goal tied the game, 5-5.

Two minutes later, West Islip broke the tie, and the teams traded goals once more, with Nikki Ortega tallying her hat trick goal off a free position shot to tie the game. But, West Islip maintained the advantage, 7-6, heading into the halftime break.

Jamie Ortega scored two goals in the second half, while Rachel Masullo added another off an assist from Barry to tie the game 9-9 with 7:17 left to play, but neither team was able to score from there, forcing two three-minute overtime periods with no sudden-death victory.

Senior midfielder Christine Gironda won the first draw in overtime, which led to Jamie Ortega’s fourth goal of the game off another assist by Barry to give the Mad Dogs their first and only lead of the game.

With 20.8 seconds left in the first overtime session, West Islip scored to tie it up 10-10, and with 2:18 left in the second three-minute span, scored again, to take the lead, which it preserved despite several Middle Country attempts at an equalizer.

While the team looses six seniors to graduation — with Nikki Ortega, Gironda, and goalkeeper Ashley Miller being impactful players on the three sections of the field — the Mad Dogs will return a significant amount of its goal-scorers next season. They will look to continue the progression in the hopes of taking its postseason game another step further and claim the county title.

“It’s been great,” Dolson said of working with the departing seniors. “They work hard and they gave it everything that they’ve got. They’ll be tough to replace next year, but I’m positive that we’re going to come back the same strong Middle Country team.”