Girls Lacrosse: After breakfast, Harding plays like a champion

After watching Shoreham-Wading River goalie Maggie Harding play the way she did Saturday morning, one wondered if she had been fortified by the breakfast of champions.

Well, sort of.

Credit was going to Cinnamon Toast Crunch, which has sort of become the girls lacrosse team’s unofficial cereal.

“It’s the running joke on our team,” coach Alex Fehmel said. “Every time everyone scores a goal in practice, it’s like, ‘Did you have Cinnamon Toast for breakfast?’ ”

Shoreham-Wading River goalie Maggie Harding making one of her 15 saves against Miller Place. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)

Harding had exactly that for breakfast Saturday and, coincidentally or not, played what she thought was the best game of her career. The senior stopped 15 shots, including four free-position shots, as third-seeded SWR turned in a complete performance for an 11-3 defeat of No. 6 Miller Place in a Suffolk County Class C outbracket game at Thomas Cutinella Memorial Field in Shoreham. SWR (11-4) advances to a semifinal Tuesday at No. 2 Sayville (14-2).

All the Wildcats seemed to play well, but Harding was particularly sharp.

“Amazing,” SWR senior midfielder Carlie Cutinella said. “It’s the Cinnamon Toast Crunch. It does wonders and she honestly was like a brick wall in there.”

Fehmel said it was the best she had seen Harding play.

“Unbelievable,” the coach said. “I am just so proud of her. She is someone that like when she’s on, she is on, and I think she came out there like ready to have fun and play hard and just like be with her teammates and she was more excited than nervous, which is honestly something that I don’t see. Like I see her get nervous sometimes, and the fact that she was excited today, I was like, ‘Let’s go.’ I see nothing but great things ahead and she really like, eight meter after eight meter, she just kept stopping them and [was] making these great saves on the ground, like she really sold out and knew that this potentially could be the last time she could play.”

Harding said: “Yeah, I felt good. I was just ready to save them. I was ready for all of them.”

Cutinella, who had the same breakfast cereal in the morning, didn’t do badly herself in her final game on the field named after her late brother, who died after being hit during a football game in 2014. She put up four goals, including an empty-netter for the final score.

Annie Sheehan (two goals, one assist) and Abigail Beran (two goals, four draw controls) spotted SWR a 2-0 lead. The Wildcats were in charge the whole way, stretching their lead to 7-1 by the time Catherine Erb struck 2 minutes, 59 seconds into the second half.

SWR had opened the season with an 8-4 win over Miller Place (10-6) on March 25. The Wildcats trailed at halftime in that one, but this time they were never behind. “I honestly think this was one of our best games,” said Cutinella.

Graceann Leonard (one goal, two assists, four ground balls, three draw controls) and Charlott Erb (one goal, one assist) also scored for SWR. Meanwhile, defenders Alexa Constant, Mia Rosati, Tiana Barone and Brooke Meltcher did well, limiting Miller Place’s opportunities.

“I think we did a good job stopping the cutters, which kind of forced them to drive and when they were driving we had the slides and when we didn’t have the slides, Maggie made the save, so it really came together nicely,” said Fehmel.

Cutinella could feel the difference that comes with playoff pressure. “Well, there’s a lot on the line, you know,” she said. “If you lose, you go home, so I think that’s in the back of everyone’s mind and it’s like kind of one of those things where you don’t want to lose because you want to keep playing.”

Fehmel said, “I told them at the end of the game that we continue to go up from here because I think that this team is very far from being done, and I’m proud of everything that they’ve done this season and everything, how hard they’ve worked to get to this point and I don’t want to let up, gas pedal all the way.”

The only players to score on Harding were Andie Mott (twice) and Olivia Coffey. Harding had played so well that during a timeout with 11:33 left to play she received applause from her teammates.

Attribute it to Cinnamon Toast Crunch?

Cutinella said, “Cinnamon Toast for the whole team.”