Smithtown East High School sophomore #11 Marisa Grennan, right, gets...

Smithtown East High School sophomore #11 Marisa Grennan, right, gets pressured by North Babylon junior #14 Carson Perry in the second half. (May 4, 2010) Credit: Freelance/Photo by James A. Escher

Christine "Crusty" O'Reilly was crusty about losing so many first-half draws. She was crusty about getting whistled for a yellow card late in the second half, and about Bria Hartley scoring six first-half goals. She was crusty about seeing teammate Nicole Daniggelis on the sideline with a torn ACL.

Mostly, the Smithtown East senior was crusty about her team's up-and-down season.

But when O'Reilly saw teammate Marisa Grennan turn and fire in the game-winning goal with 2:21 left in the second half of the Bulls' 16-15 Division I win at North Babylon on Tuesday, her crustiness was converted into cheerfulness.

"We've had a rocky season because we've been inconsistent in the second half of games," said O'Reilly, who finished with four goals and earned her nickname by taking the crust off her sandwiches as a young girl. "Today, we wanted to win bad."

The game, which featured two teams on the fringe of the Class A playoff chase, was tied 10 times. It turned on the possession battle.

After winning only seven of 21 first-half draw controls in the first half, O'Reilly won 11 of 12 in the second half as the Bulls (3-7) outscored North Babylon 7-4.

"What was different was my teammates getting in on the ground balls," O'Reilly said.

Added North Babylon coach Kaylie Howard: "They beat us to the ball. They outhustled us, and we didn't take smart shots when we had the ball."

After Nicole Marzocca tied the score at 14 with 7:13 left for North Babylon, O'Reilly gained possession on the ensuing faceoff and tallied an unassisted goal 16 seconds later to put Smithtown East ahead 15-14.

But O'Reilly was given a yellow card just 1:28 later because of an inadvertent check to Katrina Plummer's throat.

Brittany Rosino assisted Marzocca's fourth goal of the game to tie it at 15 with 3:15 to play before Grennan's game-winner.

"I didn't even know we were tied," said Grennan, who also scored four goals.

She is used to close contests as yesterday marked the fourth Smithtown East game decided by one goal this season (The Bulls have won three).

Said Grennan of constantly playing close games: "I get mad. I mean, I get excited, but I just don't like losing."

Hartley, the second-leading scorer in Suffolk County who had seven goals Tuesday, nearly kept Smithtown East out of the win column. Three of her goals gave North Babylon (5-6) brief one-goal leads, and two others tied it. Her last of the first half, a free-position bounce shot with six seconds left, matched the Bulldogs' largest lead at 11-9.

But Tuesday belonged to "Crusty" and friends.

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