Rory Heslin’s role on the Garden City field hockey team is easy to define. The senior forward is the Trojans’ trailblazer.
On Thursday, Heslin scored on the first penalty corner of the game directly off an insert from Marie Cacciabaudo to help Garden City defend its Long Island Class B championship crown in a 3-0 win over Rocky Point at Massapequa’s Berner Middle School.
Garden City (15-1) advances to the state Class B semifinals on November 12 at Centereach High School.
“The most important aspect of game play is knowing how your teammates operate so you can be there to help them finish or finish for them,” said Heslin, who did both when she assisted on Cacciabaudo's second-half goal that made it 2-0.
Rocky Point midfielder Kylie Lamoureux had attempted to deflect a sweeping pass from Heslin, but not before it landed right where it was intended to. Cacciabaudo fired the ball into the back of the net to expand the lead.
“They were putting a lot of pressure on us in the circle to keep us from scoring again,” Heslin said.
Rocky Point’s Alexa Kuhn and Lamoureux were at the forefront of the Eagles’ defense. In the final quarter, Cacciabaudo moved up the field while senior midfielder Sheila Mullins took a spot in the back on defense to preserve the 2-0 lead.
“Something we needed to adjust to was their hard hits and them flying up the side of the field,” Cacciabaudo said. “Toward the end, we matched our own players up against theirs who had similar styles of play and I think that really benefitted us.”
With 1:11 remaining, Garden City’s Sarah Kade would put the finishing touch on the lead. Rocky Point goalkeeper Breezy Henke attempted to cover a rolling ball amidst a frenzy of players crowding the net, but Kade dug under Henke’s pads to send the ball in for the final goal. Henke made two saves for Rocky Point (13-5-1).
Garden City is closing in on a state title. “It was a little bit of a slow start to the season. We had a few wins by one or two points and games that were won in overtime,” Garden City coach Lauren Lavelle said. “At this point, this team has jelled together to become a much stronger unit that plays hard from start to finish.”