Ally Hutzler's two goals lift Miller Place in Suffolk Class B semifinal
No, not literally, considering Miller Place was the top seed. But that was the mentality the Panthers carried into Monday's field hockey matchup -- seeking to "upset" rival Shoreham-Wading River, the team that dealt them their only loss this season.
"We knew we were vulnerable to them, having lost already," forward Ally Hutzler said. "That's not a team you can take lightly, so to us, we were the underdogs."
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If that's the case, Miller Place shocked the world with a 4-0 victory over the fourth-seeded Wildcats in a Suffolk Class B semifinal.
Hutzler had two goals and an assist and Kristin Roberto and Alyssa Parrella spurred a lockdown defense that has the defending Long Island champion headed to the county final.
The Panthers (15-1) will face No. 2 Sayville at 4 p.m. Thursday at Dowling.
"We wanted to score and set the tone early," said midfielder Maggie Revera, who did just that with a first-half goal. "When we faced [SWR] the first time, we got shots off but couldn't finish."
The result of that Oct. 5 game was a 1-0 overtime upset -- a legitimate one -- and Miller Place's first loss to a Long Island opponent since 2011. So the revenge factor for this contest, coach Alana LaMorte said, "was 135 percent. We felt we had something to prove."
The Panthers squandered their first nine penalty corners, but Revera cashed in on the 10th. The midfielder took a pass from Lauren Anglim on the left post and lined a shot that sneaked inside the far corner 3:41 before halftime. Ariana Esposito scored on another corner 45 seconds later.
Hutzler added two second-half goals on assists by Megan Gonzalez and Haley Parisi. Her second tally made it 4-0 with 16:17 remaining.
Emily DeGennaro had 12 saves for Shoreham (10-6), which surged after a 1-5 start to capture the final playoff berth.
But the Panthers seldom allowed breaches of their scoring circle and cleared eight corners -- three of them on Parrella's interceptions of insert passes.
"I always try to make plays," Parrella said, "but there was extra motivation for this one."
The Panthers are 34-2 in the last two seasons. "We're still underdogs," Hutzler said.
And they'll be favored again in the final, having beaten Sayville twice this season. "Yep," she said. "Still underdogs."