Friday’s home game against Harborfields marked the first time since the season opener that the Westhampton Beach girls lacrosse team had its full compliment of players, following a host of injuries. And it showed on the field.
The Lady Hurricanes scored 10 unanswered goals leading to an 11-3 victory over the Lady Tornadoes, bouncing back nicely from a 12-5 loss to cross-town rival Eastport/South Manor in their previous game on April 1.
“I definitely think that going into ESM we were excited, a little nervous. And they’re always great competitors, so I think for us, what we needed to take from that game was to gain confidence back,” Westhampton Beach senior Hollie Schleicher, who led the team with four goals, said after the game. “I think that’s what helps us slow the ball down, make good choices. So I think that’s what we carried into this game.”
Isabelle Smith, the All-American junior, returned from her absence from an ankle injury and provided a nice boost with three goals and an assist. She admitted its been a tough season, so far, but she’s glad to be back on the field.
“I love playing, so I was really excited to come out today. Obviously, taking it slow, but our team is a unit. So you just need all the puzzle pieces. So to have that one back is a really good thing.”
Harborfields jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead before Westhampton Beach (3-2 Division II, 4-2 overall, 116.83 power points) went on to score 10 straight goals, starting with Schleicher’s first goal nearly six minutes into the game. Harborfields, due to some strong defense and good goalie play from Westhampton Beach, didn’t find the back of the net again until there were about eight minutes remaining in the game. Casey Gallagher came in for Taylor Gallarello about three-quarters of the way through the game, and made the only two saves in the game, one coming on a one-on-one breakaway.
Westhampton Beach head coach Mary Bergmann thought her team played really well against a solid Harborfields team coming off back-to-back wins. Since her team hadn’t played Harborfields in two years, she wasn’t quite sure how the match was going to turn out.
“Once they settled into the attack and started moving the ball and started running the plays the right way, it was working, so we just kept running the same thing because we didn’t really need to adapt or adjust,” she explained. “We have to play these games knowing that some of these teams may be watching us, so if something is working, we may not be running a lot of other things.”
Maureen Duffy, Makayla Hoffman, Anna McCarthy and Kyleigh Tufano each scored a goal for the Lady Canes while Giana Murphy had a pair of assists and Toni Cashman also had an assist.
Bergmann said she appreciated that multiple players stepped up.
“We got a little loose at the end, when our second goalie had some big saves. And they were big, because that could be a two-goal swing. So it’s good that we have kids stepping in and doing a nice job,” Bergmann said. “I had a defender we subbed in, and had some nice transitions when she went in, so I think today was a good team game. We were pretty balanced on scoring and assisting. In the past, and even the past couple of games, we’ve had one kid have a big game and then the other stats kind of fell off a bit. So I think today was nice with having Belle back. She’s a feeder and makes the kids feel confident. Ball movement today was much faster, so I think we’re going to be able to build off of this.”
After playing Islip and West Islip this week, and its annual non-league game with New Canaan in Connecticut this weekend, the Lady Canes start to play fellow Class C teams, starting with Miller Place on April 23, then Shoreham/Wading River on May 1 and Bayport/Blue Point on May 6. As of Tuesday morning, Westhampton Beach was the third best Class C team in the county, sixth overall, behind Mount Sinai and Bayport, who were undefeated. Bergmann said the team’s goal this season is to earn a home playoff game, which she admitted is lofty being that the Class C field is strong this season. But the players seem to be in the right frame of mind.
“Best lacrosse in May,” Smith said. “We have a lot more confidence this year, so we’re ready to bring it.”
The Westhampton Beach boys lacrosse team is off to a solid start, with its only two losses coming to the top two teams in Division II, Mount Sinai and Shoreham/Wading River.
Head coach Drew Peters pointed to his team’s 9-7 home victory over Half Hollow Hills West on March 27 as a confidence boost and a good indicator of where the team is at early on.
Peter Traina scored what was the game-winning goal in that game off an assist from Rob Moore with 1:57 remaining in the fourth quarter to give the Hurricanes an 8-7 lead. Traina finished with four goals and Moore added three goals and two assists. Andrew Arcuri made 14 saves in the win.
The Canes (4-2 Division II, 5-3 overall, 129.74 power points) get back Jaden AlfanoStJohn from injury this week and Joe Sarno is close to coming back as well, coming off a broken foot he suffered during the football season this fall. Peters is confident both AlfanoStJohn and Sarno will help push the team to be even better.
“As a team, we are working on our ability to compete both in practice and games at a high level,” he said. “We need to be a more disciplined and consistent team. Although we have many returners back from last year, we still have many underclassmen who are playing meaningful minutes for us. As a staff, we are happy with the progress we have made since the beginning of the season, and we are putting ourselves in a position to fight for a playoff spot come the end of the season.”
The Canes played at Babylon on Wednesday and will play at Comsewogue this Friday, April 12, at 4:30 p.m. before going on a nearly two-week break. The next game will be on April 24, when the Canes host Rocky Point at 10 a.m.