East Hampton girls lacrosse head coach Matt Maloney said both he and his players knew exactly what to expect in the opening round of the Class B playoffs in Manorville on Saturday.
But all the knowledge and preparation in the world wasn’t enough for the Lady Bonackers against an Eastport South Manor team that was simply too good.
The Lady Sharks, seeded second, beat the No. 7 Lady Bonackers, 15-6, on their home turf on Saturday morning, advancing to the semifinals, where they were slated to face No. 3 Sayville at home on Tuesday, May 22. Results will be in this week’s news section.
For ESM, the win was the first step in the ultimate goal of claiming a county championship. For East Hampton, the loss was disappointing but didn’t take the lustre off what was a historic season—the Lady Bonackers advanced to the playoffs for the first time in the program’s history, and Maloney called this year’s team the best he has ever coached.
Ultimately, ESM’s superior talent was too much for the Lady Bonackers. Maloney said he knew going into the game that the Lady Sharks were an extremely talented and athletic team, and that his squad would have to play a near perfect game to have a chance to win. The Lady Bonackers knew what they were in for, after an 11-5 regular season loss to ESM in which they had a tough time generating offense. The story was the same on Saturday, as the Lady Sharks took a 7-0 lead before East Hampton found the back of the net.
ESM boasts four seniors who will be competing in college next year, and those experienced players made a difference, especially early on. Senior Alison Gionta, who will play for Division I Marist next year, scored ESM’s first three goals in less than a four-minute span, before senior teammate Katie Meinecke, headed to Dowling next year, scored a trio of her own, from the 15:45 mark to the 13:50 mark, which gave the Lady Sharks a commanding 6-0 lead. Senior Dene DiMartino, headed to Division I powerhouse Johns Hopkins next season, scored at the 12:56 mark, making it 7-0 in favor of ESM. East Hampton finally got on the board with a goal from Bronte Marino at the 12:02 mark, but the Lady Bonackers could never overcome the early deficit. ESM’s lead never shrunk to less than five goals en route to the win.
Both Gionta and DiMartino finished with four goals and two assists, while Meinecke had three goals. Kristen Anderson, Dakota Mason, Blair Rosenberg and Marissa Gurello each scored once, and Kaeli Huff added an assist. Maggie Pizzo led East Hampton with two goals, while Amanda Seekamp had a goal and an assist, while Carley Seekamp, Bronte Marino and Gabriella Penati each scored once.
In addition to her four goals and two assists, DiMartino was a force for ESM on draw controls, which was a key factor in the game. ESM won 13 draws compared to seven for East Hampton. Maloney said the inability to win the ball on draws made it tough for his team to get anything going on offense. He said that DiMartino’s athleticism and aggressiveness made her tough to beat in that department. He also added that the presence of Anderson, who had a significant height advantage over every player on the field, also gave ESM a huge boost in draw controls.
Maloney said he was proud of the way his team played, particularly in the first six minutes, when the score was 0-0.
“We had a nice long possession early on and we even caused some turnovers on defense,” he said. “But the question is always, can you sustain it?”
ESM head coach Becky Thorn was generally pleased with the way her team performed, but seemed focused on the next step immediately after the game. While winning a playoff game is the elusive next step for East Hampton, getting to the county final is the next step that the Lady Sharks were hoping to take. They have lost in the county semifinals for the past four years.
“We played well,” Thorn said after the game. “We had some sloppy moments and we still have little kinks we need to work out, but it seemed like we had each other’s back when something went wrong.”
East Hampton can take solace in the fact that it will be returning the bulk of its team next year, particularly on offense and in the midfield. Four Lady Bonackers will be graduating, all on the defensive end, including starting goalie Alison Charde. Backup goalie Cheyenne Mata will also graduate.