By Bill Landon
Ward Melville jumped out to a five-goal lead early in the first half, and even after the Smithtown East girls’ lacrosse team battled back to trail by two, the Patriots fired back, securing a 17-11 victory to remain undefeated in Division I April 4.
Junior midfielder Shannon Brazier and teammate Kerry McKeever rattled off two early goals, while senior attack Kaitlin Thornton added one of her own for a 5-0 lead just six minutes in.
Smithtown East sophomore attack Isabella Costa broke the ice for the Bulls when her shot found its mark for an unassisted goal seven minutes later.
Ward Melville head coach Kerri Kilkenny said her team had to press the entire game — knowing it had to after escaping the last matchup with a one-goal win.
With 12 minutes left in the first half, McKeever notched her hat trick goal for a 6-1 advantage.
“When we play together like we did at the beginning, we can close it out with a win, but we couldn’t be complacent,” McKeever said. “We worked together, we found the open cutter on transition; having turnovers on the ride starts the attack, so those were really big [because] it got us the ball back on offense.”
Costa teamed up with senior co-captain and attack Julia Smith, as each trailed two goals to trail 7-5 with just over nine minutes before the break.
The Bulls went a man down with four minutes left, but Ward Melville did too less than a minute later to even the teams. The loss didn’t affect the Patriots though, as Brazier scored her third goal, senior attack Kassidy Rogers-Healion buried her penalty shot and junior attack Kerri Thornton dished one off to sophomore Alexis Reinhardt, who put the team out front 10-5.
“Smithtown is definitely a great team — we play well together and we have a really deep bench, so there’s no deviation when we put subs in,” Brazier said. “We’ve all played together since we were young, so we mesh really well together.”
Smithtown East senior co-captain Shannon Kavanagh’s stick spoke next, when a foul shot hit the back of the cage in the opening minute of the second half. But again, the Patriots didn’t let the scoring last for long, and went on another tare, scoring four consecutive goals before Costa countered, to cut the deficit to 14-7.
Smithtown East head coach Ann Naughton critiqued her team’s performance, saying it was below average.
“It’s obviously disappointing, and we’re going to have to learn from it,” she said. “Ward Melville came out and they wanted it more than we did. I always respect them — they’re a really good team so I’m not surprised by them at all.”
With just over nine minutes left, Ward Melville ran the clock before senior attack Hannah Lorenzen scored on a hand off for her fourth goal of the game.
“We know that they’re a good team, so we had to get on their hands when they were shooting so they couldn’t get off a great shot,” Lorenzen said. “And that helps our goalie [Samantha Tarpey], who was a big part of our win today.”
Tarpey had eight saves on the afternoon.
Smithtown East wouldn’t go quietly though, and with time running out found the net four more times.
“They always have potential — they’ve given us a run for our money in the past and I just told the girls don’t allow those quick goals to rattle you,” Kilkenny said. “Sometimes they get a couple of quick ones on you and the team will deflate, but the girls stayed on their game.”