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Field hockey keepers take goals personally

Carle Place  keeper Megan McGuinness makes a save

Carle Place  keeper Megan McGuinness makes a save during a game against Garden Cit y on Oct. 14, 2016. Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

As the last line of defense, field hockey goalies often take it personally when the ball goes into the net. The bigger the game, the more it stings.

Carle Place’s Megan McGuinness is used to success, but it’s a defeat that is fueling her fire. Though she has three straight Nassau Class C field hockey crowns and a Long Island Championship under her belt, she can’t get the Frogs’ overtime loss to Whitney Point in the state semifinal out of her head.

“At that moment I was in shock,” the senior said. “I realized that was the end of the season, and that this was the last game I’d be playing with some of my closest friends. I felt that all of us as a team, including my coach, deserved to win that game.”

Despite the loss, Carle Place has become recognized as a force to be reckoned with, in no small part due to the play of McGuinness.

“Her outstanding athletic performances help to put Carle Place field hockey on the map,” coach Crystal Gray said.

During the offseason, McGuinness trained at Hofstra University where she improved her skills.

“My strengths are definitely never giving up on the ball,” she said. “I will battle as hard as I can to keep the ball out of the cage to help my team get a victory.”

McGuinness isn’t the only goaltender on Long Island with agility, vision and on-field communication skill.

Ally Tarantino, Miller Place: The senior also is accustomed to success. She and the Panthers have won three consecutive Suffolk Class B titles.

“I’ve been working really hard on my speed and agility to get quicker and faster,” Tarantino said. “I believe my strengths are not only saving the ball but also seeing the whole field.”

Tarantino said has learned a lot from playing year-round.

“She’s definitely a leader on the field for offense and defense, even though she is the goalie,” coach Alana LaMorte said. “She’s the most verbal on the team and she definitely understands the game.”

Those facing Tarantino recognize her skill. Coach Diane Chapman’s Garden City team faced Tarantino in the last two Long Island Class B field hockey championship games.

“She’s very good,” Chapman said. “She’s strong, she’s quick, she has great reflexes, everything that you want in a goalkeeper. You think the ball will sweep by and suddenly she makes a diving save. She’s a great communicator with her defense, which is what you want in a goalkeeper as well.”

Charlotte Johnson, Pierson/Bridgehampton: The junior was in front of the net as the Whalers won two Suffolk Class C championships, along with the 2015 Long Island crown.

Since the age of 12, Johnson has been a staple between the pipes for the Whalers. This offseason was the first time Johnson played field hockey all year round. Playing for East End, attending Georgetown Field Hockey Camp and working with Kaitlyn Daniels, former SUNY Oswego goalkeeper has all been beneficial, Johnson said.

Johnson said that in her first varsity season, she was taught how to handle stressful situations, play up and be in charge as a communicator.

“I can read the body language of each player and get a clue as to where and how they’ll shoot, I’m quicker off the ground [and on it, too], more aggressive in my play and I know how to push myself,” she said.

Now, once one of the youngest field hockey goalkeepers in the state, she wants to push not only herself but others to be better.

At the end of the day, “There is no ‘I’ in team, just one in goalie,” Johnson said.

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