Alyssa Milano zigged, she zagged. She stutter-stepped, stopped short and spun around defenders with nary a second's hesitation. If all of Miller Place's girls lacrosse team couldn't scare the senior, a few centimeters of knee ligament sure wasn't going to do it.
A year after tearing her right ACL in a lacrosse game, Rocky Point's Milano scored a career-high nine goals, with two assists, to lead the Eagles to a 19-12 Division II victory Thursday.
"You can't stop trying, even when it hurts, and you can't be scared, or else you won't get back to normal," she said. "I was just so excited to come back because I only got to play like three games last season."
Miller Place tied the score at 6 on Kristen Ierna's goal with 4:00 to go till the break. But Shannon Abernethy's save with about two minutes left turned the tide as she flicked the ball to Alyssa Guido, who ran the length of the field and fed Milano for a goal that gave Rocky Point (6-5) the lead with 1:13 left in the half.
"Mostly , I was just trying to not get down on myself and keep everyone working together," Abernethy said.
Miller Place drew to within 11-9 on Marissa Soto's free-position score, but the Eagles responded with a goal by Ashley Faulhaber and two by Milano. The Panthers (6-5) then took three straight shots on goal, all denied by Abernethy.
"I was sitting there, thinking to myself, 'All right, we need a save here,' " coach Dan Spallina said. "And all of a sudden, she comes up with a huge one."
After that, it was a whole lot of Milano, putting those months of physical therapy to good use. She had three goals and an assist in the final eight minutes. The key to her success, she said, was all those sudden movements.
"I'd cut and they'd stay with you," Milano said. "So you pretend to go back and then re-cut, because you just lose them."
Start, stop, switch direction and show that ligament (and the defender) who's boss.