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Field Hockey: Bayport-SWR, a recent history

A little history lesson was in order for some of the Shoreham-Wading River High School field hockey players who weren’t on the team last year. When it came to playing against Bayport-Blue Point, some of SWR’s veterans had to clue in the newcomers about what that meant.

These teams share a recent history — good and bad from SWR’s standpoint.

The “good” for SWR came in the form of a pair of regular-season wins last year over Bayport — 2-1 and 3-2 sudden-victory overtime results.

The “bad” really stung, though. That was a 1-0 defeat to Bayport in a Suffolk County Class B outbracket game that ended SWR’s season. That playoff loss sticks with the Wildcats to this day.

“It really bothered us,” said senior center midfielder Summer Steimel, an All-State player last year.

The first meeting between the teams this season didn’t sit well with the Wildcats, either. Unlike the three meetings between the teams last year, it wasn’t even close. Bayport romped on its home field, 6-1, on Sept. 10.

Wednesday’s rematch at Thomas Cutinella Memorial Field — while still not exactly to SWR’s liking — was a bit closer. Heather Canavan, Sarah Most and Morgan Woolley each had a goal and an assist in a 3-1 Bayport win.

It was the New York State Public High School Athletic Association’s Officials Appreciation Day. One could also appreciate Bayport’s offense. Canavan (13 goals, four assists this season), Juliana O’Hara (nine goals, four assists) and Woolley (12 goals, two assists) are among the top point producers in Suffolk County.

“We look good this year,” said Karen Gick, who is in her 12th year as Bayport’s coach and had her team in second place in Division II entering the game.

SWR (4-5, 4-4) can attest to that. If not for some fine goalkeeping by Ashley Luppens, a senior committed to Hartwick College, the score might have been more lopsided. As it was, Bayport (8-3, 7-2) earned 12 penalty corners to SWR’s four, but Luppens made seven saves to keep her side in the game most of the way.

“Ashley always keeps us in the games, especially [since] she made a ton of awesome saves,” Steimel said. “She really helped us.”

SWR coach Jenna Stevenson readily agreed. “I think she did great,” Stevenson said. “Her clears are so strong. Great saves on her clears … Without her, it would be a different score.”

After Canavan and Most scored off penalty corners, SWR junior Gianna Ferraro knocked in her first career goal, with an assist by Mya Napolitano, 4 minutes and 2 seconds before halftime as a passing rain shower made an appearance.

Woolley sealed things for Bayport, though, scoring off a deflection with 8:41 to go in the game.

Bayport has seven returning starters from last season, and that experience is paying dividends.

SWR, meanwhile, is still finding its way. Asked what the Wildcats need most, Steimel didn’t hesitate in her one-word answer: “Goals.”

So far, SWR has scored 18 goals and conceded 17.

“Right now we’ve been very competitive with all the top teams,” Stevenson said. “We just need to finish more, and I think the second half [of the season] is going to be a better half for us than the first half because we just need to get that chemistry and finish, score … There’s a lot of season left and we’re definitely going to keep pushing for playoffs.”

Luppens, who had ice wrapped around her aching right knee after the game, said: “I feel like we played better, more as a team today … but we still can improve. The game could have been ours.”

She called it a “totally rocky start” to the season. “All these teams we’re capable of beating. We just have to come together more, work harder.”

Not surprisingly, Steimel has been a major help. The industrious midfielder is having a “great” season, said Stevenson, who added: “She’s been a key role for us the past three years and she just has gotten better each year. We’re really happy to have her.”

The Wildcats were left with one uplifting thought following Wednesday’s loss. Should the teams meet a third time this year, it would be in the playoffs, and SWR would be in position to turn the tables on Bayport. Perhaps the third time would be the charm.

Said Stevenson, “It would be déjà vu.”

Photo caption: Bayport-Blue Point’s Morgan Woolley, left, tries to stop the progress of Mya Napolitano, who assisted on Shoreham-Wading River’s goal. (Credit: Bob Liepa)

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