Grace Beshlian stars again with 12 saves, big second half as Wantagh beats Long Beach

Wantagh goalie Grace Beshlian makes a save on Wantagh goalie Grace Beshlian makes a save on a shot by Long Beach's Kaylee Callahan during a Nassau girls lacrosse game on April 22, 2014. Photo Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

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Brenna Connolly played well. Nikki Sliwak and Paige Craig scored some goals and Kaitlyn Cerasi won some draw controls. Wantagh won Tuesday. The Warriors girls lacrosse team is good.

The preceding was brought to you by Captain Obvious.

What makes Wantagh increasingly dangerous is the emergence of Grace Beshlian, a sophomore goalie whom the coaches and teammates insist has yet to play a bad game.

"Grace always comes up big for us," Warriors coach Jaclyn Coyne said of the first-year starter. "She hasn't had one bad performance."

That didn't change Tuesday.

Beshlian made 12 saves, several on close-range shots, helping Wantagh stymie Long Beach, 12-5, in Nassau Conference I.

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Connolly had four goals and an assist, and Sliwak had three goals and two assists for the Warriors (5-1). Craig added two goals and Cerasi had a goal and six draw controls.

Those numbers, though, have become the norm for this high-powered offense. Much of the buzz afterward was about the goalie.

"I'm so proud to see her shining," Sliwak said of Beshlian, her close friend. "She just stepped in and hasn't looked back. She's been amazing so far."

So how does Beshlian react to such high praise? "I tell them, 'Thank you,' " she said, simply.

And of the pressure that comes with replacing a superstar, Sophia Gambitsky, who now is at Colorado?

"It's definitely big shoes to fill," Beshlian said, "but all I can do is my best."

That relaxed, composed demeanor carries on to the field and serves her well. She made a save on a breakaway with 11 seconds left in the first half, and had eight stops in the second half, including two on free positions.

Liz Rourke had a goal and forced four turnovers for Long Beach (2-6).

Connolly scored twice in the first 3:03 and Wantagh never trailed. Connolly opened the second half with a goal, pushing the lead to 7-2. Craig's goal, a one-timer from Sliwak, made it 10-3 with 14:36 left.

Shea Weber and Michelle Smith led a speedy Wantagh defense that made it difficult for Long Beach to create space, and the Warriors attacked the Marines' backer zone with quick passes and high-percentage shots from the wings.

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"We moved the ball well and ran a lot of double cuts," Connolly said. "You have to make good decisions against a defense like that with a great goalie."

That would be Long Beach's Sarah Reznick, an eighth-grader already drawing Division I interest, who made 11 saves.

But Wantagh's goalie was the showstopper.

That's becoming obvious.

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