CLASS B PLAYOFFS | WILDCATS 2, TORNADOES 0
There were no joyous screams, no sticks hurled into the air. Certainly no pile up.
As the horn sounded on Shoreham-Wading River’s 2-0 Class B playoff victory over Harborfields (8-9) Friday afternoon, the subdued celebration didn’t seem to quite fit the moment.
But then again, after an unusually long break, and with another game in less than 24 hours, the Wildcats were more inclined to take a breath than scream.
“We really haven’t been in our flow,” said senior Christina Malave. “After that win we were all so tired and drained so we didn’t celebrate as much. Hopefully tomorrow we will.”
The condensed schedule following all the time off in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy and Wednesday’s nor’easter has the Wildcats back at it Saturday morning against No. 1 Miller Place, one of only two undefeated teams in Suffolk County.
On Friday both teams were playing their first game in more than two weeks.
“The officials even said prior to this game, we’ll give you 10 minutes to get the feel back,” said Shoreham coach J.M. Jackson, who recorded his first playoff win as a varsity coach. “They were rusty themselves, admittedly. But it comes back pretty quick. It’s like riding a bike.”
The Wildcats broke through for the game’s first goal with 18:16 left in the first half. Malave drilled a long pass from outside the circle that made its way all the way through to the goalkeeper. The goalie kicked ball out and junior Kayla Mistretta was waiting right there on the left wing to tip the ball into the cage.
“She’s always in the right position,” Malave said. “She did a great job finishing that off. The goalie wasn’t even there. She was all by herself.”
Mistretta had just been inserted into the game about a minute earlier.
Jackson said Mistretta has been working hard the last few weeks on those type of plays. During warmups Jackson said he saw Mistretta tip a ball in on a similar play.
“I said it doesn’t matter if you miss every one two weeks prior,” Jackson said. “It’s what you do on gameday. And that carried over.”
Malave, a center midfielder, said she loves her position, which allows her to set up other players for scoring opportunities.
“I like giving the assists a lot better because it’s making a play and giving the goal to someone else,” she said. “I like seeing [the forwards] finish. It’s a great position to be in.”
Jackson said finishing chances in front of the goal was a key focus during the extended break.
“We spent the last four to six practices just in front of the goal,” he said. “We’d get the ball up field, we just weren’t closing out. So it’s come to fruition a little bit.”
The Tornadoes, a Division I team that the Wildcats don’t play in the regular season, kept the pressure on in the second half. They generated eight penalty corners in the second half after three in the first.
The Wildcats spent a good portion of the second half in their defensive end. But the defense never broke.
“We just kept pumping each other up,” Malave said. “Kendal [Conway] our goalie was doing a great job of saving the ball at all times. Even though we were breaking up the plays with our feet or a high ball, we were still breaking up the play. That was our main point, just get the ball out of the circle.”
Conway finished with six saves in the shutout.
Jackson said they knew coming into the game that the Tornadoes were quick and aggressive.
“You could see they definitely worked very hard to get tons of corners,” he said.
The Wildcats (8-7) had four penalty corners.
The Wildcats added an insurance goal with about 2 1/2 minutes left in the game when senior Alex Fehmel tipped in a shot from senior Alyssa Pearce.
“When you get that second one it’s such a relief,” said Malave, a four-year varsity player.
On Saturday Shoreham will face the team that ended its season last year in the playoffs. Miller Place also won two games against the Wildcats this season, 3-0 and 2-1. Game time is 10 a.m.
“They kicked us out last year first round of playoffs so that was pretty bitter for us,” Malave said.
The winner of Saturday’s game will play for the county title Monday against No. 2 Rocky Point or No. 3 Sayville.