The question was asked of Maggie Andersen: Does she like being called upon in a pressure situation to make a big save?
Shoreham-Wading River’s sophomore goalie gave a conditional answer. “Well,” she said, “it depends on whether I save it or not.”
Fortunately for SWR’s field hockey team, Andersen has made her share of big saves this season. That included Wednesday’s showdown with Bayport-Blue Point. While Andersen saved SWR’s bacon with some critical saves down the stretch, BBP ultimately prevailed, 2-1, on Aubrey Eisfeld’s sudden-victory goal 6 minutes, 36 seconds into overtime.
The heartbreaking loss hit the Wildcats hard and they held a prolonged postgame meeting on the track surrounding the field while the junior varsity game was played under the lights at Thomas Cutinella Memorial Field in Shoreham.
“This one, it hurts,” SWR coach Christina Sacchitello said. “You know, we just have to get better from this and at the end of the day we have to play our game, and I’m not quite sure we played our game today.”
The showdown between BBP (10-3, 10-1), which started the day atop 15-team Suffolk County Division II, and SWR (7-3, 7-3), which entered the game in fourth place, was riveting.
“For weeks we were preparing for this game,” said SWR left back Emmalee Ruta.
The game’s decisive play began with Julia Fusco playing a ball down the right side. Emma Shanahan caught up to it before knocking a pass into the middle for Eisfeld and the sophomore pounded it into the cage for the happiest — or saddest, depending on one’s point of view — sound in field hockey.
“I think it was definitely a big test,” Andersen said, “and I think we’ll see a lot more of these tests in the future and I do believe that we’re gonna get a lot better and we’re gonna pass those tests.”
Sophia Minnion had spotted SWR a 1-0 lead early in the third quarter. Brooke Meltcher’s long-range shot was stopped with a pad save by Caroline Lewkowicz, but Minnion was well positioned to swat the rebound home for her ninth goal of the season.
That lead lasted for only 4:07, though. BBP drew even when Lily Moller redirected a ball from Shanahan for her fifth goal of the season.
SWR had a golden opportunity to go ahead again when it was awarded a penalty stroke 4:41 into the fourth quarter, but Lewkowicz did well to deny Meltcher’s attempt to the left side.
After that, it was Andersen’s time to turn in some heroics. With less than two minutes left in regulation time, Moller intercepted a pass in SWR’s end and dribbled in on a breakaway. Andersen, a varsity rookie, saved the initial shot and Moller sent the rebound wide right.
“Maggie is improving every day,” Sacchitello said. “For one v. ones and I think when the pressure is on her, she really shows up.”
Another SWR turnover in OT nearly cost the Wildcats. Eisfeld took the ball off a SWR stick, charged in on goal and got off two successive shots. Andersen saved both of them as part of her eight-save performance.
“Maggie is insane,” said Ruta, who played on defense along with Hailey Lewkovich and Marisa Cacciola. “She is absolutely insane. The best goalie I’ve ever seen.”
The loss snapped SWR’s seven-game win streak. During that spell, SWR outscored the opposition, 33-3, and Andersen posted four shutouts.
“These past eight games, our defense is doing well, you know,” Sacchitello said. “Just basic things we need to improve on, but the defense has been holding it down for us.”
As much as the loss hurt, Sacchitello had to look ahead to the near future. “That game definitely could have went either way so, I mean, Bayport-Blue Point, they earned that one,” she said. “The work that they put in at the end of the game truly shows.”
She added, “We can only go up from here, learn from this game and we take that and we move forward towards playoffs.”