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Hometown Heroes: Falino starring for Northeastern women's ice hockey

Juggling a historic event that also happens to be an important regular season game is no easy task. Just ask Northeastern women's hockey player Siena Falino.

The freshman forward - who went to high school at Portledge on Long Island - and the rest of the team will make history on Jan. 8 when they participate in the first outdoor women's college hockey game at Fenway Park. Northeastern will face rival New Hampshire as part of a doubleheader that also features a men's game between heated rivals Boston University and Boston College.

"It's huge that they would even consider having a women's game," Falino said. "That shows things have changed and the sport is growing."

There are currently 35 Division I women's hockey programs and 49 that participate on the Division II and III level.

There is more to the game than just making history for Falino. Beating rival New Hampshire is equally as important. "We've really been focused on winning, because we need the two points in the standings," said the Centerport resident. "The fact that it's a historic event will hit us sooner or later."

Northeastern (10-4-2, 6-3-2 Hockey East) is in second place in the Hockey East conference; New Hampshire (12-2-4, 6-1-1) is fourth. Both programs have blazed a trail in women's hockey. Northeastern has three ECAC championships, while New Hampshire has five ECAC titles and has never had a losing season in its history.

"We're lucky to get this opportunity," said Falino, who began playing the sport when she was eight. "Things are getting better for college hockey, even on the Division II and III level."

Being a part of such a historic event has also afforded the team an opportunity to highlight the sport and some of their promotions, including the "stick girl" program.

"We basically pick a fan and she dresses with us before games and sits on the bench in full uniform," Falino said. "We also have a youth skate after games where we invite local kids to skate on the ice with us after games."

Getting a chance to play at Fenway Park is something Falino won't forget, but winning the game will make the day that much sweeter. Said Falino, "It will be work and fun all at the same time."

Harris, Delle Donne shine

Half Hollow Hills West graduate Tesia Harris and college teammate Elena Delle Donne made headlines for the University of Delaware women's basketball team in an 85-72 win over Buffalo on Tuesday. Harris tied a school record with six three-pointers and had 23 points. Harris' younger brother is Hills West star Tobias Harris.

Delle Donne shot 15-for-23 and tied a school record with 39 points.

Honor roll

Former St. Anthony's players Scott Vallone and Nick Ferrara each received postseason honors. Vallone, a defensive tackle for Rutgers, was named first-team freshman All-American by Phil Steele Publications - a major college football magazine. Ferrara, a kicker for Maryland, was a second-team freshman All-American selection by Steele.

New York Sports