CLASS C LONG ISLAND FINALS | WILDCATS 13, VIKINGS 10
Over the first three years of Katie Boden’s varsity career, trips to Cortland in June were an annual pilgrimage. Then before her junior season could even begin last year, an ACL injury relegated her to a spectator. As she watched from the sidelines, the Wildcats fell short of the county finals for the first time in seven years, ending a dynasty for the four-time state champions.
The disappointment of last year made the joy of this year that much sweeter for Boden, one of only three seniors on Shoreham-Wading River.
“I honestly feel on top of the world right now,” Boden said moments after the Wildcats’ 13-10 Long Island championship victory over North Shore Sunday afternoon at Dowling Sports Complex. “Our team played awesome and I’m just so happy for us.”
The Wildcats punched their return to Cortland with an emphatic victory over the Nassau champs in a game they led from start to finish. Shoreham led by as many as six in the second half and effectively chewed up the final five minutes of the clock with a near perfect stall that kept North Shore helpless from gaining the all-important possession.
The victory sets up a semifinal showdown at 9:30 a.m. Friday against Christian Brothers Academy, the team that slid in to win last year’s state title with the Wildcats on hiatus in Class B.
“As a senior, it means a lot [to return to Cortland],” Boden said. “I got my season taken away from me last year, so it’s just unreal.”
Boden scored twice for the Wildcats in the first half as Shoreham jumped out to a 7-1 lead. The Wildcats led 8-3 at halftime for their highest total in a first half since May 4 against John Glenn. It was only the sixth time they scored as many as eight in a first half all season.
“For this season that’s probably the best start we’ve had,” said Shoreham coach Mary Bergmann. “And we knew coming in that we were going to have a lot of goals because their defensive slides aren’t always there and we have very, very quick people up top.”
Junior Alex Fehmel and sophomore Shannon Rosati are two of the quickest for Shoreham in the midfield. Both came up big for the Wildcats. Fehmel tallied a hat trick and Rosati scored a pair of clutch goals late in the second half to help halt the Viking’s comeback attempt.
“I’m literally in shock right now,” Fehmel said afterward. “I can’t believe we’re going to states.”
North Shore closed to within two goals — the closest the Vikings had gotten since the opening minutes of the first half — when USC-bound Amanda Johansen scored with 7:26 left.
The Wildcats (15-3) answered when Rosati whipped a shot from about 12 yards out from the right side to beat North Shore goalkeeper Alexis Greene. Soon afterward junior Alyssa Pearce scored off a feed from junior Lauren Lustgarten to give the Wildcats some breathing room.
“Shannon’s a girl that just answers back,” Bergmann said. “I think we have a lot of players like that and I think whoever had the ball at that moment was going to make sure they got that ball in because we really wanted to keep it at that three-goal, four-goal lead.”
Johansen scored her fourth straight goal to bring North Shore (14-4) back within three with a little over five minutes left. But once the Wildcats gained possession back, they never gave the ball up again.
Bergmann said she called for the stall — where the team simply looks to play keep away rather than attack the goal — earlier than normal.
“I looked at them as said ‘Can you guys do it?’” Bergmann said. “They’re like ‘Yes. If we want to win a Long Island championship, we can do it.’”
Fehmel said they practice running stalls for a two-three minute interval.
“This was like a five-minute stall,” she said. “It was crazy.”
During a stall Fehmel said all anyone is thinking about is just hold the ball.
“You do everything you can to protect it,” she said. “I was running around like crazy.”
Only six players remain for Shoreham from the 2010 team that last played at Cortland in the state tournament. Fehmel and junior Jessica Angerman were reflecting recently on how different it would be going up now compared to when they were freshmen.
“When you’re a freshman you kind of let the older kids take it into their hands and you’re just there to get the ball to them,” Fehmel said. “Now it’s kind of in the older kid’s hands now. It’s hard to realize that.”
Junior Paulina Constant played on the 2010 team along with Pearce. Constant had a big game against North Shore with three goals. She scored on a fastbreak with 8:57 left for her third goal that put Shoreham ahead 11-7 after the Vikings had just gotten within three.
Before the season began this year, the Wildcats had a team meeting where players outlined goals for the season.
“I’d say probably 70 percent of the girls, the first thing on their list was states,” Bergmann said. “We said OK, that’s great to have in the back of our minds, but now we need to play each individual game.”
After all those games, the Wildcats are finally headed back to Cortland.
–The Wildcats won their sixth Long Island title in program history. They’re now 6-2 in L.I.C. games after dropping the first two against Manhasset in 2004 and 2005.
–North Shore was playing for its first Long Island title since 1992, in what was only the third time Nassau and Suffolk teams played each other in girls lacrosse. Last year was their first return to a L.I.C. and they lost to Mount Sinai.
–Shoreham opened the game with Fehmel on draws. The Wildcats knew that Johansen for North Shore had a size advantage and liked to self-draw to herself. Fehmel’s strength in draws is pulling the ball out of the circle, which helped counter Johansen’s strength. When Johansen didn’t take a draw, the Wildcats went with Angerman, who has taken the majority of draws for the team this season.
“When Jess takes them she likes to flip them to herself,” Fehmel said. “And she’s really good at that.”
–Johansen led all scorers with five goals.