Undefeated no more: Hauppauge flag football team dealt first loss in Suffolk semis
In leading the Hauppauge Eagles flag football team to a perfect regular season, freshman quarterback, middle linebacker and punter Taylor Mileti virtually never stepped off the field. She will now have to wait 10 long months to step back on it.
After beating Longwood in the opening round of the playoffs last Thursday, Half Hollow Hills rolled into town and shut out the Eagles 13-0 on Monday in the Section XI semi-final game. Hauppauge’s inaugural season ended after 12 straight wins and a League I regular season title. They were the number one seed coming into this playoff tournament and Hills was seeded fourth.
Mileti’s father Steve is the Eagles head coach.
“They have a very good team over there and they earned that victory,” said Coach Mileti. “They played a good man coverage, and the ball just didn’t bounce our way today.”
Half Hollow Hills has a two-way superstar of their own in Jahniya McCreary. Aside from scoring both Hills touchdowns, McCreary had seven flag pulls, an interception, and a sack from her middle linebacker position. The Lady Thunderbirds defense gave Mileti and her offense no room to breathe for most of the afternoon.
“We came in hungry and had a mission to win,” said the senior McCreary. “We remembered what happened the last time we played them and did not want that to happen again.”
Hauppauge beat Half Hollow Hills 6-0 on April 14 when Mileti scored a late touchdown on a 50-yard run.
“Jahniya is one of the best players on Long Island,” said Hills head coach Michael Lupa. “She flies to the ball on defense and is a threat to score from anywhere on the field on offense. She was the most valuable player of the game tonight.”
After a scoreless first half, McCreary scored on the T’Birds opening possession of the second half when she took a wildcat snap and sliced up the middle for a two-yard touchdown run. McCreary had six catches for 140 yards on the day, including a bomb of a touchdown from 48 yards from quarterback Sami Heyman to seal the game with under six minutes remaining. Heyman, who like Mileti is also a freshman, was 7 for 12 for 185 yards on the day.
But it was the Thunderbird defense that set the tone in this tilt.
“They had a fast pass rush which made it difficult to complete passes,” said Taylor Mileti. “We had such an amazing season and we all worked so hard to get to this point. Losing this game definitely hurt but it’s just one game and we will come back and work hard next season to get to the next level.”
As Half Hollow Hills (13-2) prepares to take on Patchogue-Medford for the Suffolk County Championship on Thursday, Mileti, along with her disappointed teammates, will need to step away from the field — finally.