When two high school girls lacrosse teams that have only one loss between them and are among the best in their respective divisions play each other, it’s going to be a good one. Saturday’s non-league showdown between Eastport-South Manor and Shoreham-Wading River did not disappoint.
Both teams’ credentials spoke for themselves. Eastport, the first-place team in Suffolk County Division II, is the defending county Class B champion. Shoreham, which is second in Division III, was a county Class C semifinalist last year with hopes for bigger and better things this year.
Neither team led by more than two goals, the lead changed hands four times and the score was tied eight times before Eastport ultimately prevailed, 10-9, on a hot afternoon at Thomas Cutinella Memorial Field in Shoreham.
“It was a huge test,” said Shoreham goalie Gabby Cacciola, who made 12 saves. “ESM has a great team every single year. We always look forward to playing them. … They have a great offense, great defense, great goalie and great focus. They always give us a huge challenge.”
Eastport midfielder Kaitlyn Dowsett ran up from behind the cage and swept in a shot for her fifth goal of the game, snapping a 9-9 tie with 5 minutes, 33 seconds remaining.
Eastport’s Kelsey Huff won the ensuing draw and the Sharks drained time off the clock until Shoreham’s Erin Triandafils scooped up a ground ball with 37 seconds to go. Moments later, however, Shoreham lost possession because of a foul and Eastport (10-0, 8-0) closed out the game.
“It was a great game,” Shoreham midfielder Samantha Higgins said. “Not every single game is going to be a win, and I think we learn more from our mistakes and losses. We haven’t really played a high-caliber team like that since the beginning of the season, so it was really good to see that we can compete with ESM because they’re a great team.”
Huff, a senior, won 14 of 21 draws in addition to scoring three goals and gathering a game-high eight loose balls. Jaime Biskup added a goal and an assist.
Eastport coach Becky Thorn, whose team held advantages in shots (25-15) and loose balls controlled (24-13), said she told her players at halftime: “It’s going to be a 50-minute battle. You can’t let up, even that last second of the game.”
The game’s only two-goal margin came when Dowsett and Ciera Kotan scored the first two goals of the second half for a 7-5 Eastport lead.
But Erin Triandafils put in the next goal for Shoreham (8-2, 7-1) and her sister, Sophia Triandafils, netted the next two after that to put the Wildcats ahead, 8-7. Both Triandafils had three goals each.
Kelsey Huff and Dowsett replied with goals for Eastport before Isabella Melli brought Shoreham even again at 9-9 with 7:29 left.
Mikayla Dwyer had a goal and an assist for Shoreham.
“They’re very skilled, very fast, very athletic and very hungry,” Thorn said of the Wildcats.
Shoreham coach Brittany Davis saw the game as good preparation for bigger games in the near future.
“They’re a powerhouse team that makes it to the counties year after year, so you want to play those big teams, you want to play your best games at the end of April moving into May,” she said. “It helps expose everything that we need to work on. I like to say we didn’t really lose, we’re going to learn from it.”
Photo caption: Shoreham-Wading River’s players lined up before the start of their non-league game against Eastport-South Manor on Saturday. (Credit: Bob Liepa)