The sixth seed in high school girls lacrosse isn’t supposed to pose much of a threat to the top-seeded teams. Then again, the sixth seed isn’t often a four-time defending state champion.
If this was supposed to be the year Shoreham-Wading River quietly bowed out of the playoffs after bumping up to Class B, somebody forgot to tell the Wildcats.
Three days after knocking off defending Class B champion and third-seeded Rocky Point on the road, the Wildcats took down No. 2 Sayville, 13-12, and will now play for an eighth straight county championship.
“It’s been really hard to find some of our chemistry in the beginning of the season since we have such a young team and half of our starting line came from the JV last year,” said sophomore Jessica Angerman. “But we’ll take the wins in May rather than March.”
The Wildcats (10-7) will face top-seeded and undefeated Hauppauge June 2 at Dowling Sports Complex for a shot at their first county title as a Class B team.
“Coming from an underdog position we were kind of in being a six seed, we were 8-6 in league, we didn’t have the best season, but these girls don’t give up and they’re fighters,” said Shoreham coach Mary Bergmann.
The Wildcats defeated the Golden Flashes (14-3) in less dramatic fashion than their triple-overtime win Saturday against the Eagles, but the ending began to feel all too similar. Sayville rallied off four straight goals after Shoreham went ahead 13-8 with 5:33 left on Alex Fehmel’s team-high fourth goal.
Taylor Mills scored on a free position to bring the Golden Flashes within one with 1:53 left. It was the closest Sayville had gotten since the game’s opening minutes.
The Wildcats saw a six-goal lead evaporate against Rocky Point in the final eight minutes before wining the game in overtime.
“I think everyone was a little scared after the Rocky Point game, them coming back, that it might happen today,” said Angerman, who had two goals and three assists. “I think everyone did a really good job keeping their composure.”
What the Wildcats couldn’t do against Rocky Point — effectively stall without turning the ball over — they executed to perfection against Sayville.
On the game’s most important draw, Shoreham sophomore Paulina Constant controlled the ground ball to give the Wildcats possession. Once the Wildcats set up in their offensive zone they had about 1:30 of clock to kill. With pin-point passing and elusive running, they ran out the clock without Sayville ever getting the ball back for a chance to tie the game.
“We said coming into this game we were going to hold on to the last possible second to [stall],” Bergmann said, “because we know they feel not so confident with it after we lost to Mount Sinai because of our stall, the Comsewogue game came within one goal because of our stall and Rocky Point tied the game on us.”
The Wildcats were awarded one free position in the final minute after a three-second violation. Sophomore Alyssa Pearce (3 goals) got the ball and rather than shoot, pulled it out to keep running clock.
Bergmann said normally a player looks over to check what to do at that point. But she trusted Pearce to make to the right decision so she didn’t say anything.
“If she took it and scored I wouldn’t have said that’s the wrong thing to do,” Bergmann said. “But she pulled it out and that put us in the perfect opportunity for a stall.”
The Wildcats never trailed after racing out to a 6-0 lead. They led by as many as seven.
Senior Ali Davis (1 goal, 2 assists) converted after a long pass in transition with 15:49 left in the first half to give the Wildcats the early six-goal advantage. In the regular season the Wildcats scored only four goals against Sayville in a 7-4 loss.
The Wildcats haven’t been known for fast starts this season. But their defense was firing from the start, not allowing Sayville so much as a shot on goal until the game was already 6-0. The Golden Flashes were careless with the ball early and the Wildcats capitalized.
Each time Sayville scored a goal or two and seemed to be getting back into the game, the Wildcats had an answer. After Sayville scored its first two goals to make it a 6-2 game, the Wildcats came back with three straight, capped by a tough goal from Angerman with 3:10 left in the first half.
Facing a double team, she spun off both defenders to free herself for an open lane to the cage and fired the shot into the back of the net. As Angerman came off the field after the goal, teammate Katie Boden told her, “That was insane.”
“We’ve worked on double teams almost every day since the Sayville game,” Angerman said. “We know they’re a team that likes to double. Today they were doubling us a lot but were able to get out of them.”
Freshman Shannon Rosati scored two goals for Shoreham and the Wildcats’ youngest player, eighth-grader Lauren Daly, made seven saves in goal.
Against Hauppauge the Wildcats will face another team they lost to in the regular season. Shoreham fell 12-7 April 13 at Hauppauge. The Eagles beat Shoreham in the regular season last year as well.
Hauppauge has never won a county title, but came close last year, losing a heartbreaker in overtime to Rocky Point.