Arent's goal gives Ward Melville field hockey title
Becca Arent didn't have to work very hard.
She just held her stick out and let the ball do the rest.
"I had my stick down in position and it deflected right off me," the Ward Melville forward said of the ball.
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After a scoreless first half, Arent's goal - off a Georgia Holland feed from the top of the circle - provided the edge in No. 2 Ward Melville's thrilling 1-0 victory over top-seeded and rival Smithtown East in yesterday's Suffolk Class A field hockey final at Patchogue-Medford.
It's the third straight county title for the Patriots (17-1), who will face Massapequa, the Nassau Class A champion, in Saturday's Long Island championship at 1:30 p.m. at Stony Brook University.
The Bulls (17-2) pressured the Patriots early on, but Ward Melville came out firing in the second, registering six penalty corners in the first 11 minutes of play.
And Ward Melville made the sixth count.
Holland stopped the ball at the top of the circle, dribbled a few steps, then lined the ball toward the cage, where Aren't was waiting. The sophomore was in perfect position for the rebound, which she tapped in at 18:58.
"Words couldn't even express how happy I was after that," said Patriots midfielder Abby Beltrani, whose overwhelming defense - along with teammate Ashley Karpeh - helped keep Smithtown East scoreless the rest of the way.
The rivalry between both teams heightened in 2006 after Smithtown East defeated Ward Melville in overtime to claim the county title. But the Patriots returned the favor, winning the county championship the next two seasons.
And the competition only intensified this year after both teams split their regular season matchups - each by 1-0 scores.
"We knew it was going to be a close game," said Holland, who has 16 goals and 11 assists. "It feels awesome just to get the team back that ruined your perfect season . . . It would have been nice to go undefeated, but it's more important that we beat them now."
Said Beltrani: "Redemption definitely played a factor. It made us more determined to win."
Amanda Danziger, Smithtown East's standout forward, had hoped to "get back" at the Patriots, as well.
"It's frustrating to know that the year's over," the senior said, as her eyes filled with tears.
" . . . We've had our comebacks, and after they got that goal my first thought was, 'Now it's my turn.' Unfortunately it just didn't happen."
Though disappointed by the outcome, Bulls coach Ann Naughton praised the Patriots for their effort.
"Ward Melville did great. Unfortunately, I didn't think we played our best game today," she said. "I know that coming out of Suffolk, Ward Melville's going to represent us well."