Sachem East’s field hockey team has an outstanding defense. Add a solid offense and an abundance of depth and it's no surprise that the Flaming Arrows are unbeaten.
“I think we focus a lot on moving the ball and being confident with the ball,” longtime coach Tina Moon said after a 4-1 victory over Newfield on Oct. 9. "Just do simple things. It’s a simple concept; we’re not doing anything outrageous. We’re really trying to do whatever we can to be in the best body position that we possibly can. I don’t necessarily think we’re the best defensive team, I think we’re doing well and we’re still really young and we still have a lot more to do.”
Sachem East’s defense opens up the offense with quick ball transfers, and the scorers step back to help the backline.
This was demonstrated by back Kaylee Maier, who netted two goals and added an assist in the win over Newfield. Players such as midfielder Kristen Shanahan, who leads Long Island in points (17 goals, 11 assists), intercept passes and stop rushes from opponents dribbling up the pitch.
“One of our concepts is to just move the ball as fast as we can down the field and be ready for it,” Moon said. “We want to do whatever we can to anticipate and get it to our offensive end as quick as we can and try to make it simple.”
Because of outstanding ball control Sachem Eas's goalies Marissa Cuevas and Kate Piazza haven't had to make many saves, but both have made big stops when needed.
The Flaming Arrows (14-0) have a 27-player roster with 10 seniors and have gotten ample contributions from their bench.
“Everybody on the team has a role,” sophomore midfielder Morgan Zimmerman said. “I know most of us are all leaders on this team. It's not just one person. We all really communicate with each other and help each other out in the best ways that we can to win.”
Sachem East plays its first playoff game on Tuesday and will be looking to win its first Suffolk A title since 2014. Last year tthe Flaming Arrows fell to state champion Ward Melville, 2-1, in the Suffolk final.
“We always have a mindset that we have to always play hard because anybody can win at any time," Zimmerman said. "We have to keep working hard and play our game.”
No. 1 Garden City looks to defend title
In Nassau, Garden City also finished the regular season undefeated (14-0) and also plays a strong backline game, allowing only six goals this season, including a shutout of Ward Melville. The defending Nassau Class A champions also feature a strong offense, and will enter the playoffs as the top seed. Four Trojans are among the top 10 point scorers in Nassau: Leading goal scorer Grace Kelly (19 goals), Liana McDonnell, Caitlin Cook and Amanda Cerrato.