MUSTANGS 8, WILDCATS 5
The game began just as so many others have in the past decade for Shoreham-Wading River. Less than two minutes after the opening draw against Mount Sinai Tuesday afternoon, the Wildcats already had two goals.
The combination of Jessica Angerman and Lauren Lustgarten combined for the quick strikes.
Then a funny thing happened.
The Wildcats didn’t score again for the next 26 minutes, a rare drought for a team that so routinely puts up double digit goal totals.
The Mustangs seized the opportunity, racing out to a 5-2 halftime lead and riding the momentum of a superb game from goalkeeper Julia Michaels to hand the Wildcats their first loss of the season, 8-5 in Division II.
“The girls rose to the occasion,” said Mount Sinai coach Courtney Leonard, who is 2-0 against Shoreham since taking over the Mount Sinai program last year. “Obviously this is a rivalry. Shoreham is a very good, respectable team.”
The Mustangs were 0-10 against Shoreham in their history, including four losses in the county championship, before last season. When the Mustangs (5-2) broke through last year to win the program’s first Class C county title, the Wildcats (5-1) were in Class B. This year they could very likely meet again for the county crown.
“It’s still so early in the season,” said Shoreham coach Mary Bergmann. “I think both teams are going to be completely different teams come the end of May.”
The Wildcats came into the game off a big win against Eastport-South Manor. But Tuesday they weren’t nearly as sharp, turning the ball over too many times and shooting to the goalkeepers’ stick early in the game, allowing Michaels some easy saves to gain confidence and momentum that paid off later.
The second half began much like the first with the Wildcats quickly striking for two goals to get back to within one at 5-4. Junior Alyssa Pearce scored both goals, the second coming on a beautiful spin move in front of the cage to elude a defender and create room for a shot.
The Wildcats appeared to have the momentum back, but the Mustangs never allowed the Wildcats to get any closer.
“I think we gave them the game,” Bergmann said. “We kept having bad turnovers, we kept passing to people that weren’t there and we were making bad decisions.”
The Mustangs scored the next three goals after Shoreham got within one. The first came on a bit of a fluke play after the Wildcats turned it over right in front of the cage. Mount Sinai junior Danielle Della Rocca was there to scoop up the ball and score a chip shot.
Mount Sinai took its biggest lead of the game with 13:06 left when Della Rocca scored again on a free position.
Half of Mount Sinai’s goals came on a free position. The Wildcats, meanwhile, struggled to convert their opportunities.
“It’s something we’re still working on,” Bergmann said. “I think it gets mental for some of them. It’s just something to work on and for them not to get mental about because we’re going to get those opportunities.”
Michaels, a junior, finished with 10 saves.
“She’s phenomenal,” Leonard said. “She saves our butt every game. If you have a goalie who is as good as Julia, it’s going to keep you in big games. Shoreham was getting shots off. She was just making big saves.”
Mount Sinai got two goals from the freshman speedster Sydney Pirreca and two from junior Marisa Colacino.
After coming up just short of a state title last year, the Mustangs returned another young team this season. They are also playing the season without one of their top players from last year, freshman Kasey Mitchell. She tore her ACL during the winter while playing basketball and is out for the year.
A win against Shoreham gave the Mustangs their first signature win of the season after losing to Hauppauge and Eastport-South Manor.
“I hope it’s a momentum builder,” Leonard said.
The Wildcats learned first hand last year how losing games in the regular season doesn’t always spell doom. The Wildcats barely made the playoffs last year in Class B, then won two road games against higher ranked teams to reach the county finals.
“It comes down to composure and execution,” Bergmann said. “That’s something we’re focusing on this whole season because that was a huge issue last year.”