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Top 10 moments in the playoffs
OK, we’re stealing this one from the fellas over at the girls soccer blog. But good ideas are conceived to be jacked, right? Here we have a top 10 of the best moments in the 2011 field hockey playoffs. It’s all-inclusive - goals, saves, memorable quotes, and moments with deeper meaning. On this Thanksgiving Day, these are some of the moments of the last few weeks we were thankful for.
10. Friends Academy’s perspective. This was an after-the-game moment, but I’m counting it. Following Friends Academy’s season-ending 4-1 loss to Greenwich in the Class C state semifinal, Jalisa Clark said: “The fact that we're here and we played as hard as we did, I feel like we won this, despite what the scoreboard says… I’m going to have plaques and pictures from championship games on my wall in college. How can I possibly be sad?” Erin Gluck, Erica Sklar and Savannah Febesh echoed those sentiments. Here they are, seniors, after a bitter loss to cap their careers, with their heads held high. It was impressive. Give the Quakers credit for their composure and positivity after a heartbreaking loss. Plus, they were right. So often seasons are measured by, “Were you the team celebrating when it was all over or not?” and the journey itself can get lost in that. And, as has been mentioned, 0-5 to Long Island champs is a helluva journey. Also, a little peek into a writer's mind: When a game starts at 7:30 p.m., deadline becomes a huge factor (i.e. I had about half an hour after the game ended to get everything done.) And when the team we’re focusing on loses, a little worry starts to set in. You’re thinking, “I’m barely going to have enough time to get this in and, what’s worse, the players are gonna be upset or crying and not want to talk.” So Friends Academy being stand-up was a great help – thank you! – and Clark’s quote was gold.
9. Give coach some more of that agita. Clarke earned its first trip to the Class B semifinals since 2001 with a win over North Shore, but it had to come in the way Clarke made routine this year: late. Demi Shanahan made a long cross left to Kristen Keller for the goal with 1:30 left in the Rams’ 1-0 victory. The teams’ two prior meetings resulted in a scoreless tie and Clarke’s 2-1 overtime win. Clarke had four overtime games, three ties and seven contests decided by one goal. So you almost knew their first playoff game would have to come down to the wire.
8. Alvino saves Sachem East. Samantha Alvino made a diving stick save to her right with 8:41 left in the second overtime of the state final. It was one of those moments where a season’s life flashes before your eyes, but Alvino kept the Flaming Arrows’ championship hopes alive. It was her third diving save, and she also had one midway through the first half where she reached over her head, arms crossed, to make a last-second deflection of a high shot. The senior usually played the first halves of games and Jordan Miller finished them, but coach Tina Moon left Alvino in through two overtimes because she “was that hot.”
7. Cold Spring Harbor: Can’t wait! The Seahawks rushed the field, forgoing an awarded penalty corner with time expired, to celebrate their 1-0 win over Manhasset in the Nassau Class B semifinals. While Manhasset had reached the final in 12 of the last 14 years, Cold Spring Harbor had never ventured that far into the postseason. And in recent years, their season’s end came in the semifinals at the hands of Garden City and Manhasset. The atmosphere was great. The stands at CSH were packed with fans for both teams (former players among them) and, since it was a night game played hours after all the other playoff games, there were players from other teams in attendance. So when the Seahawks made Courtney Burke’s first-half goal hold up, held off the Indians’ late charge, and made program history on a chilly night… it was party time.
6. Game-winning goal from… Mib? Mary Brigid Coughlan scored with 8:36 left in double-overtime to give Ward Melville a 4-3 win over archrival Smithtown East in the Suffolk Class A semifinals. That’s dramatic enough, then throw in the fact that Coughlan (nicknamed “Mib” by teammates) is a defender and isn’t normally part of the Patriots’ 7-on-7 personnel. Deryn Blaney had gotten injured in a collision with the goalie at the end of the first overtime and, despite her best pleas to re-enter, was held out. Coughlan subbed in for her and, during a scrum for the ball, rushed upfield and poked the ball into the cage. Who said defenders ain’t got a little forward in ‘em?
5. Sayville plays well with heavy hearts. Less than 24 hours after hearing about the untimely passing of teammate Caitlin Donnelly’s 19-year-old brother, Sayville put forth a great performance against Garden City in the Class B Long Island final. The Golden Flashes took the field with “JD,” in honor of James Donnelly, and “14,” Caitlin’s jersey number, written on their legs. Showing resolve, Sayville fell behind early, but rallied to tie it on Taylor Mills’ goal. It took Alexandra Bruno’s score with 3:09 remaining to put it away for Garden City.
4. Jordan Miller backs up her words. "Pressure can either crush you or drive you to do better… I believe we're going to win. We're doing this," is what the Sachem East goalie said after her team won the state semifinals in strokes. So what happens in the final? She finds herself in the ultimate pressure situation: tied with Mamaroneck having a chance to win it in strokes. The junior slid to her right to stop a ball headed for the low left corner, saving the Flaming Arrows’ season and giving Jessica Caruana a chance to win it. Talking big, predicting a win, and then coming up big in the pivotal moment. Swag - Jordan Miller has it.
3. Mills delivers in the clutch. Taylor Mills finds the left corner to give Sayville a 3-2 (2-1) win over Rocky Point in double strokes to end an amazing, classic Suffolk Class B final as the Golden Flashes earned their first title since 2006. Before that, Sayville’s season came down to Olivia Cabral scoring to tie it at 1. Before that, Jen Wandle had tied it at 1 for the Eagles to force a second round of strokes. Long before that, Rocky Point’s Victoria Trapani tied it at 2 with 1:10 left in regulation. Rocky Point cleared 14 Sayville penalty corners from 7:29 of regulation through two overtimes and the upstart Eagles, a team that’s been building, pushed a heavily-favored Sayville team to the absolute brink. Casey Heely (Rocky Point) and Sayville’s Gianna Minogue put on an awesome goalie duel. There were about five moments in this game that could stand on their own in a top 10. Put it this way: for a game that didn’t have that much scoring, it used up 12 pages in my notebook.
2. McT strikes in OT. Catherine McTiernan scored with 3:28 left in overtime to lift Garden City over a feisty Maine-Endwell team in the Class B state semifinals. Garden City looked sharp early, but the Spartans seized momentum in the second half and tied the score at 1. McTiernan had missed a chance to score on a breakaway just two minutes before, but redeemed herself and sent the Trojans to a second straight state final. (Just realized this one has a little sentimental value, too. It was the senior’s last career goal. Her first goal – on September 30, 2009 – came in the second field hockey game I ever covered.)
1. Caruana brings home a championship. Jessica Caruana sends a low liner into the left corner, just out of the lunging goalie’s reach, to give Sachem East its first ever Class A state championship. The Flaming Arrows had played Mamaroneck scoreless through two overtimes and the teams tied at 2 in the first round of penalty strokes, setting the stage for an ultra-dramatic sudden victory stroke round. It was only fitting that the senior captain, one who has suffered the heartbreaks of postseasons past, was able to win it.