Things got sticky . . . They had their hands full . . . The Miller Place field hockey team really had a lot on its plate . . .
The Panthers were in a fowl mood.
"Barbecue sauce or classic, it doesn't matter," Brooke Anthony said. "We just order a whole lot of chicken wings."
That's become the routine: celebrating big victories with their favorite appetizer. Copious amounts of it.
And Arianna Esposito delivered on some wings and a prayer Monday, scoring a second-half goal to edge longtime rival Shoreham-Wading River, 1-0, in Division III.
"We were hoping to win so badly," said Esposito, whose goal was assisted by Anthony with 16:04 remaining. "Every season we have Shoreham circled as one of the teams we've got to beat because there's such a rivalry, so it's definitely fulfilling."
"We love wings!" midfielder Kristin Roberto said with a grin. "It's one of those things everyone can agree on . . . We partner up and order baskets of them."
Shoreham-Wading River dominated possession early on before the Panthers took control midway through the first half. Miller Place, however, was turned away repeatedly by the Wildcats defense and goalie Emily DeGennaro.
They finally capitalized on their ninth penalty corner attempt. Anthony collected a rebound after a deflected shot kicked out to her on the right wing. She then fired and Esposito, from in front of the cage, redirected the ball into the left corner.
"[DeGennaro] is one of the best goalies and we have problems getting it past her," Panthers coach Alana LaMorte said. "I'm not sure how anyone scores on them. So for us to hold them scoreless and get the one big goal is awesome."
DeGennaro made 10 saves, including a stop on a penalty stroke with 3:04 left for SWR (5-5). Gabrielle Campo, Emma Cairo and Erin Blomberg led a defense that held strong against heavy pressure.
The Panthers, too, were disruptive. Alyssa Parrella and Roberto each had a steal to thwart a corner, and sweeper Danielle Powers and Carly Olsen (two saves) denied scoring chances. Shoreham's best opportunity came 1:31 before halftime, when a shot rolled wide right by inches.
"It's a loss, so you have to just move forward, but we can take some confidence from the fact that it's been close games against them," DeGennaro said. "We'll keep that in the back of our minds if we see them in the playoffs."
The Panthers are the two-time defending Suffolk Class B champions, but twice this season, SWR has pushed them to the brink. Miller Place won the teams' previous meeting, 1-0, in a shootout last month.
"It's always hard to beat a team more than once in a season," Roberto said. And that title defense, it seems, will be a difficult task.
Concerns for another day, though. For now, the Panthers are just winging it.