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Field Hockey: Miller Place tops Rocky Point

Miller Place midfielder Heather Ercolano moves the ball

Miller Place midfielder Heather Ercolano moves the ball up field. (Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan)

Heather Ercolano set up on the left wing, took the penalty corner insert from Maggie Revera and, without hesitation, launched a bullet into the near corner of the cage.

And with that, Miller Place’s missed opportunities in the second half no longer mattered. With that, the Panthers’ pre-season seed no longer mattered.

With that, Miller Place earned a 1-0 overtime victory against Rocky Point.

“You could just feel it,” Ercolano said of her winning goal, which came with 2:03 left in the extra period. “Once it touched my stick, I could feel it and I just wanted to rip a shot.”

Her shot handed Rocky Point its first loss of the season. Miller Place improves to 7-0, including 5-0 in Division III. The Panthers, along with Sachem East, are the last remaining undefeated teams in Suffolk.

“It definitely feels good, but we have a lot of work ahead of us,” Panthers coach Alana LaMorte said. “I know the record says we’re 7-0, but we have so much to work on. We had so many shots on goal and we have to put those in.”

Miller Place dominated possession, especially in the second half, and had 24 shots on goal to Rocky Point’s seven. The Panthers’ defense forced several turnovers and they controlled the ball in the midfield.

“We have a great defense,” Ercolano, the center-midfielder, said. “Tianna Parella knows how to stop a ball and get it back up field; it’s great knowing she’s behind me. Me, Emily [Mott] and Maggie [Revera], we work well together and help each other.”

But, as LaMorte said, “it doesn’t matter if you dominate a game unless it shows up on the scoreboard.” In overtime alone, the Panthers had three chances to score before they finally did.

Megan Palasek made 16 saves for Rocky Point (6-1, 4-1).

Two of Miller Place’s penalty corners were cleared in overtime and, with 3:01 left, a shot on an empty net went wide right.

“Whenever it goes out it’s so frustrating, but you have to collect yourself and get back in the game because it’s not about you,” Ercolano said. “It’s about the team.”

And Miller Place is a really good team. They entered the season seeded behind Sayville (the defending Suffolk “B” champion), Rocky Point (the county runner-up) and Shoreham-Wading River, a team that had won four straight county titles before the Panthers knocked them out of the playoffs last season.

- Shoreham-Wading River on Sept. 13: 2-1 win

- Sayville on Sept. 24: 3-0 win

- And Friday, of course, Rocky Point.

What does that say about this team?

“It means we’re coming up,” Ercolano said. “We’re a great group of girls and it shows that we’re a team to look out for.”

Carly Olsen made three saves in her fifth shutout of the season.

“Being 7-0 is great, but we can’t let it make our heads too big,” Ercolano said. “There’s so many more games coming up. We’re gonna take this as a good win and let it push us to get better.”

* Shout-out to Maggie Revera for remembering a shout-out from last year.

Tags: field hockey , Rocky Point , Miller Place , Suffolk , Class B , Division III

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