WILDCATS 14, EAGLES 8
Mary Bergmann always tries to keep an eye on the big picture as coach for Shoreham-Wading River. When it comes to resting the team’s main midfielders — the players most responsible for playing on both ends of the field — Shoreham’s coach won’t hesitate to give them a breather.
Even against one of their biggest rivals Friday afternoon in Rocky Point, the Wildcats’ first midfield line of Paulina Constant, Shannon Rosati and Alex Fehmel constantly rotated out for a second midfield line made up of an eighth-grader, freshman and sophomore.
“A lot of teams only run one midfield line and they don’t sub,” Bergmann said. “I think it’s going to help them in the long run if we keeping giving them breaks.”
Of course, having bench depth is a luxury not every team has.
In the Wildcats’ 14-8 win over the Eagles, a game they led from start to finish, the Wildcats never seemed threatened, minus a quick three-goal burst from the Eagles in the second half.
Even with about 8 1/2 minutes remaining, and the Wildcats ahead by four — a still perilous lead at times in girls lacrosse — Bergmann called for her second midfield line to give the starters a break.
“She definitely trusts them,” said senior Paulina Constant, who led the Wildcats with a season-high five goals and two assists. “We have so much depth on our team that even our second line can take on any other team’s first line and hold their ground.”
Bergmann said she feared Rocky Point could still mount another comeback, something all too familiar for Shoreham, so she wanted to give the starters a quick rest to regroup for the final few minutes.
“I wanted to get the first midfield line a break, and also show the second midfield line that we do have trust in them,” she said.
Constant said the breaks provide them a welcome boost.
“In games like this where we’re running back and forth constantly, we need a breather here and there,” she said.
Rocky Point, by contrast, rarely substituted.
The Wildcats (7-1 Division II) closed the game by scoring three unanswered goals over the final 5:15. Constant scored the last two, both on free position shots from nearly the identical spot on the right side of the arc.
The Wildcats know a thing or two about seeing leads disappear against Rocky Point. Two years ago in the first round of the playoffs, the Eagles (4-4, 3-3 Division II) scored seven straight goals to end the game and force overtime. Shoreham still prevailed in the extra period.
“It’s good to know we can keep our composure, because once Rocky Point starts to come back, we in the past have let them keep coming back and close the gap completely,” Bergmann said.
Shoreham came out firing with three goals in the first 2 1/2 minutes. But the offense stalled from there thanks to some missed shots and quality saves. Rocky Point closed to within a goal at 3-2 with 8:28 left in the first half.
But the Wildcats got back on track with three more goals to close out the half, capped by two from senior Jessica Angerman. She banked a shot from the left side off the right post with 4:40 left and then ripped a ball into the net on a free position shot a minute later.
“We knew we had to pick our intensity up,” Constant said. “We couldn’t be flat-footed on defense and had to pick up our shot selection on attack.”
Angerman finished with four goals.
“Jess comes out in big games when we need her,” Bergmann said. “Some games she doesn’t score as much, but I think that’s the beauty of our attack. It’s so flexible.”
Senior Lauren Lustgarten was the only other player with multiple goals. She finished with a pair. Fehmel tallied three assists.
After a disheartening loss to Sayville April 13, the Wildcats have bounced back with three straight wins to keep their hopes alive for the No. 1 seed in the Class C playoffs.
That could ultimately come down to next Thursday’s game against unbeaten Mount Sinai, the team the Wildcats are competing against for the top spot.