HURRICANES 18, WILDCATS 8
The day was inevitable, the matchup unavoidable.
Sooner or later, Mary Bergmann was going to have to face her former team as the head coach of a new rival. It just so happened, Bergmann’s former Shoreham-Wading River girls lacrosse team visited her new home in Westhampton Friday with the season barely a week old.
“I think I was more nervous today than for a state championship,” Bergmann said.
In the end, she was all smiles.
Westhampton rolled to an 18-8 victory, dominating the second half after the Wildcats had crept back into the game before halftime.
With a young lineup without much varsity experience, the Wildcats expected this season to be a rebuilding year under first-year coach Rachel Feirstein. For nearly a decade the Wildcats have set the standard for excellence in girls lacrosse in Suffolk County.
But the tide may be turning as Westhampton, a preseason No. 10 seed in Division II, emphatically showed Friday. The Hurricanes are already 3-1 this season with their only loss coming by one goal against Babylon, one of the top teams in county.
“I think our whole goal today was to make a statement for the rest of the county,” Bergmann said.
The Hurricanes accomplished a rare feat. The Wildcats had won the previous six matchups between the schools dating back to 2005, which is as far back as records go on laxpower.com.
The Hurricanes also handed Shoreham a rare double-digit loss. It was the first time Shoreham lost a game by double digits since a 20-8 loss against Garden City in 2010 (both teams won state titles that year). It was only the Wildcats’ third double-digit loss since 2005.
Feirstein said communication on the field is the biggest key to improvement.
“They’re not really talking so they’re breaking themselves down,” she said.
The Wildcats trailed 5-0 to start the game, but answered with a 5-2 run to close out the half. But the defense broke down in the second half as the Hurricanes whipped the ball around the field setting up some easy chances. Senior Alexa Smith, a speedster on attack, scored three straight goals early in the second half to extend the Hurricanes’ lead to 11-5.
Smith finished with eight goals, her second game already this season with that total. In four games, she already has 25 goals.
Smith is headed to Monmouth University next year, the same school where Feirstein was a four-year player.
Ohio State-bound Shannon Rosati scored five goals to lead the Wildcats (0-2).
Junior Manuela Cortes and freshmen Jesse Arline and Sam Higgins all scored one goal.
Bergmann was the head coach at Shoreham the past three seasons and led the team to a state title in 2012. In December, she was offered a full-time teaching position at Westhampton, which led to her becoming the coach for the Hurricanes. J.M. Jackson, who had been the assistant at Shoreham, eventually followed Bergmann to be her assistant at Westhampton. Jackson remains the varsity field hockey coach at Shoreham.
The schedule doesn’t get much easier for Shoreham. The Wildcats’ next opponent Tuesday is Babylon.