Brianna DeMilia, Division hold on for girls lacrosse win
As quickly as it came together, so too could it all come undone. Division didn't need a reminder of that, considering just 30 minutes earlier they had mounted a comeback of their own.
But, with 37 seconds left, the Blue Dragons' backs were to the wall -- the cage, actually -- as Carle Place readied for a free-position shot from 5 yards to tie it.
Division coach Sean Donnellan described the feeling as "absolute panic," and goalie Brianna DeMilia said she felt nauseous.
Don't worry. She didn't lose her lunch, nor did the Blue Dragons lose the game.
At the whistle, DeMilia quickly reacted to a liner ticketed for the right corner and deflected the ball with her left shoulder pad, helping Division hold on for a crucial 9-8 win Tuesday in Conference III girls lacrosse.
"You get past the nerves and realize you have to focus on the ball," said DeMilia, who made 12 saves. "Position yourself and just make the stop."
Jessica Minuto gave Division a 9-6 lead midway through the second half, but goals by Megan Onderdonk and Abbey Pine pulled Carle Place within 1 with 6:49 remaining.
The Blue Dragons held possession in the waning minutes and drained the clock with their stall offense, but a loose ball and subsequent foul gave Carle Place possession at midfield with 53 seconds left, igniting that frantic final sequence. A defensive foul inside the crease set up the Frogs' free-position opportunity.
"Thank God Bri made that save," said Ariana Weingrad, who had two goals and two assists. "They wanted the ball badly, so they were double teaming and pressuring. When we lost the ball, it was nerve-racking, especially knowing how much we needed this win."
The regular season concludes this week and Division (5-4) entered this game in fifth place in their conference, with only the top five earning playoff berths. Coming off a one-goal loss to Calhoun on Monday, there certainly was a sense of urgency, though the Blue Dragons didn't show it early on. Brittany Trogele's goal gave the Frogs a 4-0 lead 6:40 in.
"We had a tough game [Monday night] and then transitioning from a turf field to grass, the girls came out a little sluggish," Donnellan said. "We called a timeout, the seniors got everyone together, and they answered the call."
Alyssa Fiore scored Division's first two goals, Weingrad tied it at 4, and Minuto put them ahead for good with 4:03 left in the first half. Minuto took a pass on the left from Weingrad, charged in and, from about 7 yards, fired inside the right post.
"Getting the lead picked everyone's heads back up," said Minuto, who also had two assists. "We got momentum from that."
Gina Fader (two goals) scored 2:23 before the half, capping a 7-0 run for Division. Pine and Maria Hyland -- at the buzzer -- scored late in the first half to pull the Frogs within 7-6.
Onderdonk, Hyland and Pine each scored twice, Jessica Vella had a goal and three assists, and Dhara Kadakia made 15 saves for the Frogs (3-7).
As for that last possession . . .
"Whew, that was rough," Donnellan said. "But Bri's a prime-time player. I knew if she could get a clear view of the ball and the shooter, she'd be able to save it."
She was able to save her team.