It may sound funny to hear, but Sarah Sheridan describes herself as a “very nervous person.”
What’s funny about that is she just happens to play the most pressure-packed position in lacrosse: goalkeeper. A goalie needs to be in command of her nerves when the pressure is on.
At the same time, Sheridan believes she plays her best when she’s under pressure, “so that helps.”
The pressure was on Friday. Not only was Sheridan, a sophomore, playing in her first career playoff game, but a triple-overtime playoff game, at that.
“Crazy, honestly,” was how Sheridan described it. “I can’t even think of another word right now.”
Overtimes tend to produce heroes, and Sheridan was one of them for Shoreham-Wading River.
Unfortunately for Shoreham, though, Rocky Point had a hero of its own. Senior midfielder Christina Bellisimo scored her second goal of the game, from a pass by Madison Sanchez, 1 minute, 30 seconds into the third sudden-victory overtime to lift the Eagles to an 11-10 triumph in the Suffolk County Class C outbracket game at Thomas Cutinella Memorial Field in Shoreham.
Fifth-seeded Rocky Point (9-7) moves on to face the Division II champion and No. 1 seed, Mount Sinai (15-1), in a semifinal Tuesday.
“I never experienced something like this before,” said Shoreham senior midfielder Erin Triandafils, who had four goals and one assist in the Wildcats’ only overtime game this year.
Neither did Sheridan, who had played in only a handful of games since Shoreham’s first-string goalie, Gabby Cacciola, sustained a concussion. Asked if she had ever played in an overtime game before, Sheridan answered: “Way back like in seventh grade in a summer league game. It was nothing compared to this, that’s for sure.”
Overtime games are fairly rare, although No. 4 Shoreham (7-9) had lost at this same stage in the playoffs last year in overtime to Bayport-Blue Point.
“It was weirdly similar,” said Shoreham coach Brittany Davis.
Whereas Cacciola made big saves in last year’s playoff game, Sheridan made big stops in this one.
Sheridan had six saves, but her best work came during crunch time. With the score tied 10-10, she stopped a close-range attempt by Megan Greco with 2:45 left in the first half. In the first OT, Sheridan saved Madison Sanchez’ free-position shot. Seconds before the second OT ended, she denied Sanchez again.
“I definitely believe that was the best she played,” Davis said. “You know, her first game out was against Mount Sinai [a 17-3 Shoreham loss], and that’s a scary game to jump into, I think, just knowing who they are and knowing what they’re capable of and the threats they have on their team. So, she has made tremendous strides in like, what, a week span, a week and a half. It’s fight or flight and she completely just stepped up to the plate.”
Sheridan credited the defensive play of teammates like Julie Kadletz, Summer Steimel, Alexa Constant, Jenna Lesiewicz, Mikayla Dwyer and Michelle Steimel. “They all pushed me through,” she said.
Rocky Point, which defeated Shoreham by 11-8 during the regular season, fell behind, 7-6, after Shoreham opened the second half with goals by Isabella Meli (two goals, one assist) and Maddie Farron (one goal, two assists). But Rocky Point ran off four straight goals — by Kelly Logue, Brianna Lamoreaux (five goals), Bellisimo and Lamoreaux again — for a 10-7 lead, the largest margin of the game.
Shoreham retaliated with successive strikes by Amanda Padrazo, Triandafils and Nicolette Constant to force overtime.
Rocky Point received a quality performance from its goalie as well. Shannon Maroney made 11 saves, including a stop of a free-position shot by Farron with 19 seconds left in regulation time.
Six of Rocky Point’s goals came from free-position shots.
Asked for her feelings about overtime games, the Penn State-bound Triandafils said: “I love them. They’re just fun and it’s exciting. Even if you lose, it’s still fun to experience that and have the fans cheering for you. Every moment is so intense.”
Davis and her assistant coach, Nicole Virdone, anxiously watched from the sideline as the overtime drama unfolded.
“I think overtime is rough, but it does really push kids to shine, those hard-hat players, those players who play with everything in their heart,” Davis said. “You really get to see the type of athletes that are out here and it doesn’t come down to lacrosse. It comes down to grit, hunger, passion.”
Photo caption: Shoreham-Wading River’s Mikayla Dwyer squeezes a shot past Rocky Point’s Kailee Woods that goalie Shannon Maroney catches for one of her 11 saves. (Credit: Bob Liepa)