If the seventh goal for Bayport-Blue Point didn’t feel like the backbreaker, the eighth goal less than a minute later certainly felt like a dagger.
In a slow-paced game that saw few opportunities for either team on offense, Shoreham-Wading River found itself staring at a four-goal hole with just 4:51 left in the Class C semifinal Thursday. The Phantoms had struck for three straight goals in just under two minutes to open up the largest lead of the game.
But momentum can switch in an instant in lacrosse, and by controlling the draw, teams can tally goals in a hurry.
With their backs firmly against the wall, the No. 3 Wildcats mounted an improbable rally to score four straight goals in less than three minutes and force overtime at Bayport Blue-Point High School. Late heroics from Bayport goalkeeper Madison Grazidei prevented the Wildcats from breaking through with the game-winning goal.
And in double overtime, the Wildcats’ comeback finally ended as senior Kelsi LoNigro beat Shoreham goalkeeper Gabby Cacciola from about six yards out on a free position. The Phantoms, 9-8 winners, raced toward midfield to begin the celebration as the Wildcats could only watch as their season ended in a cruelly similar fashion as last year.
It was the fourth loss of the season for Shoreham (13-4); three of those were decided by one goal.
In last year’s semifinal, Mount Sinai scored in the final seconds against Shoreham to force overtime where the Mustangs prevailed.
It was the fourth straight year the Wildcats’ season ended in the semifinals.
Senior Jesse Arline scored the final three goals for Shoreham, including the game-tying goal with 1:21 left on a quick shot on a free position. She led the Wildcats with five goals.
The Wildcats won the ensuing draw and set up a final possession with a chance to win the game and cap off a stunning rally. With nine seconds left, senior Sophia Triandafils, a fifth-year varsity player, cradled the ball at the top of the arc for a free position. She took two steps in and wound up a shot to potentially send the Wildcats into their first county final since 2013. But Grazidei was there to corral it and calmly held the ball in her stick for the final five seconds, sending the game into overtime.
The Wildcats, who never led in the game, had their chances in the first three-minute overtime, which began on a man advantage because of a yellow card assessed to a Bayport player. Shoreham controlled the opening draw of overtime, but again could not break through. Triandafils was stopped by a terrific save from Grazidei just over a minute into overtime. The Wildcats again won the draw to start the second overtime period, but turned it over before generating a good scoring chance.
A minute later, the Phantoms delivered the final dagger, setting up a rematch of last year’s county championship against Mount Sinai. The teams will play Tuesday at St. Joseph’s College.
Top photo caption: Shoreham-Wading River senior Sophia Triandafils (30) vies for possession on a late draw against Bayport-Blue Point’s Courtney Weeks. (Credit: Joe Werkmeister)