Losing a game is never easy, but when your opponent is the reigning Long Island Class A field hockey champions, it can be a bit easier to swallow.

Defending Long Island Class B champion Garden City traveled to Ward Melville on Monday in a battle of two Long Island field hockey powerhouses. With just 1 minute, 17 seconds remaining in the game, sophomore Lexi Reinhardt scored the winning goal off an assist from Kerri Thornton to hand Ward Melville a 2-1 win in non-league play.

“We lost to a great team today,” Garden City coach Diane Chapman said. “It is hard to lose, but when you lose to a great team like Ward Melville, it is a little bit easier.”

Garden City senior midfielder Taylor Gladd added to her Nassau lead in points with a goal 8:37 into the first half on an assist from Devon Heaney to give Garden City a 1-0 lead. Gladd leads Nassau with 12 goals, 11 assists, and 23 points on the season.

“We have never had competition like this before,” Gladd said. “Ward Melville passed the ball very well and we found ourselves chasing the ball a lot. We have to focus on getting control of the ball and playing Garden City field hockey, passing the ball and moving together.”

Ward Melville head coach Shannon Watson had high praise for Garden City.

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“Garden City is a very strong program and we respect them highly,” Watson said. “We try to schedule a non-league game with them each year, because we respect their program and win or lose, we’ll take something away from them.”

Despite the loss, Gladd and Chapman are focusing on areas of growth and improvement as Garden City heads into its final two league games of the season.

“A game like today is just a step to help us when we get further into the playoffs,” Gladd said. “Everyone played really hard and everyone was a little hit by this loss . . . We have to take it as a positive as we start heading toward the postseason.”

Chapman added: “We have to continue to build on the things that we did well today and work on the things we did not do so well. A game like this right before playoffs is definitely helpful, but we have to worry about our last two games before we can even think about the playoffs.”