In a high-scoring sport such as lacrosse, it is easy to play down or even sometimes dismiss the importance of the goaltender.
In fact, some observers see a goalie as someone who takes the ball out of the back of the net after a goal is scored.
Then there is the Shoreham-Wading River High School girls team, which doesn’t need to be reminded of the value of junior goalie Gabby Cacciola.
Cacciola was outstanding Tuesday afternoon, making four key saves while the Wildcats were building their lead in a 12-7 home win over Comsewogue in a non-league match and four more down the stretch to preserve a dwindling lead.
She made 12 saves, one below her season-high for the Wildcats (5-1) against the Warriors (6-2).
“Gabby definitely set the tone right away,” Shoreham coach Brittany Davis said. “She had a shutout up until the first goal. It was 7-1. It slows down the defense and it really chips away the offense’s confidence. It gets in their head. I think she definitely played a huge role in any lead that we had today. She was able to stop the ball, get a nice clear.
“Our transition looked beautiful in the first half and then our offense was able to put it away. Our middies … have energy. They’re not gassed from being on defense forever. She gets a quick clear and we can really play.”
It showed on the other side of the field as midfielders Sophia Triandafils, a senior, and Isabella Meli, a sophomore, scored four goals apiece, season-highs for both players. Senior midfielder Samantha Higgins added a goal and four assists.
The Wildcats took a quick lead as Triandafils won the opening two draws and turned them into goals only 35 seconds into the game. By the time senior midfielder Jamie Fischer tallied the first of her two goals with 8:21 remaining in the half, Shoreham enjoyed a 7-1 advantage and Triandafils and Meli already had hat tricks.
Shoreham extended the lead to 10-2 on Meli’s fourth goal with only a second remaining in the half.
In the second half, the roles were reversed as Comsewogue kept the hosts on defense for a good portion of the final 25 minutes. Over the final 10:33, Cacciola made stops on Hannah Dorney (twice), Olivia Fantigrossi and Fischer to stem the Warriors’ tide.
“First half, we played completely as a team,” Davis said. “The goalie had huge saves, the defense was up, energy was up. The thing with this team, they’re not always used to staying up and crushing teams since last year. They’re finally getting into that role. So, they’ve kind of become a little bit complacent. What we really need to work on is the run and gun and start putting teams away.”