Lauren Daly still clutched the yellow game ball 15 minutes after the Suffolk Class C final had ended. It was officially hers now, but an argument can be made that she owned it from the first draw control.
Daly, a freshman, made 15 saves -- scoops, deflections and free position stops -- to lead No. 1 Shoreham-Wading River as it beat defending champion Mount Sinai, 11-7, yesterday at Dowling Sports Complex.
"I was seeing the ball well and the defense made it easy," said Daly. "They're the reason I was making those saves."
And every single save was necessary in the early going, as she was forced to go against No. 2 Mount Sinai's star keeper, Julia Michaels. Daly's stop on a point-blank shot with 7:20 left in the first kept the score tied at 2 and the game remained close until Shannon Rosati's acrobatic goal with 20:52 left to play.
Almost like a basketball player with a knee-buckling crossover, Rosati do-si-do'd to the crease, sending her defender rolling to the ground, faked right and bounced her shot stickside left to give Shoreham-Wading River the 5-4 lead.
The Wildcats (14-3) scored the next five goals in a little more than six minutes.
"We worked on conditioning like no other that first week we had off," coach Mary Bergmann said about her team's ability to surge in the second half.
Where most people saw their first-round bye as a disadvantage, Bergmann said Shoreham exploited their almost three-week lag. Mount Sinai (13-5) "doesn't sub that much and we knew that being conditioned and having four midfielders rotating in three spots was going to help us," she said. "If we would have had a semifinal game I don't know that we would have been able to pull off the type of game that we did."
Rosati, who, along with Alex Fehmel, scored three goals, said Shoreham "turned on a switch in our minds and bodies," not allowing a second-half goal until 9:35 left in the game. Daly's point-blank free position save with 15:50 left maintained a four-goal advantage.
"It's a bittersweet feeling after last year because it was really tough losing" in Class B, Daly said. "I think we just knew today was the day."
More like her day. Her ball, too.