The third time was anything but a charm for the Shoreham-Wading River High School field hockey team.
Shoreham won both of its regular-season games against Bayport-Blue Point in sudden-victory overtime, 2-1 and 3-2. Those losses stuck with the Phantoms, who did something about it Monday when the teams faced off a third time, in a Suffolk County Class B outbracket game.
“It motivated them,” Bayport coach Katie Burbige said of those losses. “I think the girls went into it with a lot more drive.”
It was a fired up Bayport that took the game to the Wildcats in the first half at Thomas Cutinella Memorial Field in Shoreham. During a spell of sustained pressure, junior forward Juliana O’Hara slammed a shot in for a 1-0 Bayport lead 14 minutes and 10 seconds into the game. The goal stood as the game’s only score, and No. 5 seed Bayport (10-6) earned a place in the semifinals against the Division II champion and No. 1 seed, Miller Place (12-3), on Thursday.
SWR’s first playoff game in at least five years ended in tears for the Wildcats.
“We just couldn’t finish,” senior midfielder Michele Corona said. She added: “I think we just started a little flat in the beginning of the game. I think the nerves got the best of us.”
Along with a well-organized Bayport defense. Bayport goalkeeper Kara Vazquez was credited with five saves. She had something her counterpart, Ashley Luppens (10 saves), didn’t have — a goal in her favor. That was O’Hara’s sixth goal of the year.
Asked what she thought about how her team played, Burbige said, “I think they played a 10 out of 10.”
In the second half, Bayport withstood SWR’s pressing attack. One of the Wildcats’ best chances came when Corona drove a centering pass across the goalmouth, but there was no SWR stick to make contact with it.
“We just started off slow,” SWR junior midfielder Summer Steimel said. “We weren’t offensive enough.”
For No. 4 SWR (9-6), reaching the playoffs was an achievement to feel good about.
“They should be proud of themselves,” SWR coach Jenna Stevenson said. “This is the first time in a long time that Shoreham made (it into the) playoffs and it’s because of them.”
What made the Wildcats playoff players?
Steimel answered, “Every one of them, they put their heart into it.”
Photo caption: The contrasting reactions of the Shoreham-Wading River (white shirts) and Bayport-Blue Point players at the end of the game tell the story. (Credit: Bob Liepa)