On a day when the Westhampton Beach girls lacrosse team needed its best effort to prevail, its best effort was not on display.Facing second-seeded Bayport/Blue Point in the Suffolk County Class C semifinals, the Lady Hurricanes sputtered out of the gate and could never muster the offense needed to close the gap, falling, 12-6, on Wednesday afternoon in Bayport.
With the victory, Bayport/Blue Point avenged last year’s triple-overtime loss to Westhampton in the county semifinals and will play reigning Class C champion Mount Sinai for the title on Thursday, May 30, at Farmingdale State.
“They were just the better team today,” said Canes head coach Mary Bergmann. “We really didn’t deserve to win the way that we played.”
Turnovers, errant shots, players running free amid the Westhampton defense—those problems all plagued the Lady Hurricanes (12-5) as they looked to rebound from a 12-7 loss at the hands of the Phantoms on May 6.
Senior Hollie Schleicher tallied the first of her two goals with two minutes gone in the game, evening the score at 1-1. Bayport/Blue Point then rang up four consecutive goals, including three by star Ailish Kelly, to open up a lead. Kelly ended up with five goals on the afternoon.
After the Phantoms (13-2) cashed in on eight free-position shots in their previous meeting, Bergmann had stressed the importance of keeping their opponent off the 8-meter line. After losing two-thirds of draw controls two weeks ago, Westhampton dominated them this time, winning 13 of 20.
However, the Lady Hurricanes struggled with continuity on the offensive end.
“We couldn’t handle the ball. We were dropping the ball. We just weren’t executing the things we’ve practiced the entire season,” Bergmann said. She also saw that Kelly and her running mates—especially Megan Brockbank (two goals, four assists) and Jackie Mason (one goal, four assists)—were getting or setting up clean looks at the cage.
Still, Westhampton’s upset hopes were intact at intermission, trailing by just three goals. However, Bayport/Blue Point ripped off four straight to start the second half to open up a 10-3 lead.
The Canes did string together goals by Maureen Duffy and a second strike by Schleicher to make the score 10-5 with over 15 minutes remaining, but the Phantoms never let them pull any closer.
“The second half was just panic,” Bergmann said. “We had saves and we caused turnovers, but we just couldn’t get anything going on the offensive end of the field.”
Junior Belle Smith notched a goal and three assists to lead the Canes.
Schleicher, the hero in last year’s county semifinal, played her final game in green, as did classmates Anna McCarthy, Lindsay Rongo and Paige Rignola, who helped raise the bar for Westhampton girls lacrosse.
“This isn’t the best game to end on—but they’ve done a lot of great things,” Bergmann said. “We had the most wins we’ve ever had in one season, and last year we went to the county championship. So that group of kids was part of all the firsts that we’ve been through.”