Kate Mulham was a standout in the center of the field, but her best work was in front of the cage.
The Ward Melville midfielder deflected a shot by Kiera Alventosa into the goal with 8:31 left in regulation. That turned out to be the deciding goal as the Patriots beat Newfield, 2-1, on Monday to win the Suffolk Class A field hockey championship at the Dowling Athletic Complex.
"It was so exhilarating," Mulham said, holding her first county title plaque in her hands. "We didn't stop working the entire game, and to know that it paid off in the end is so rewarding. We didn't have any huge lapses. We kept pushing and didn't let up."
Ward Melville (16-1) had the advantage in time on attack during the first half, but Newfield's defense forced multiple turnovers around the 25-yard line and goalie Maria Daume, who made seven saves, was clutch when tested.
Ward Melville opened the scoring nine minutes into the second half. Kerri Thornton picked up the ball around midfield and ran it 30 yards ahead before passing to Lexi Reinhardt, who charged up the right wing and scored.
Newfield (15-3) tied it at 1 when it broke down the field and Maggie Finley scored.
Alventosa set up the winning goal by intercepting a pass around Newfield's 45.
"We had a more offensive mentality in the second half," Mulham said. "We knew we were in the zone in the first half, but we finished in the second. They were really aggressive and didn't give us an easy win at all. We left it all on the field."
Ward Melville will play Massapequa for the Long Island championship on Sunday at Dowling.
Parrella leads Miller Place to title. Alyssa Parrella buried a ball hit into the circle by Ally Turturro just over two minutes into the game as Miller Place won the Suffolk Small Schools championship with a 1-0 victory over Pierson/Bridgehamton.
"We didn't get as many shots on goal as we wanted to, but I think our passing was really good during the game," Parrella said.
Suffolk Class B champion Miller Place (17-0) and Class C champion Pierson already had qualified to play for the Long Island championship in their respective classes.
Miller Place was on the offensive for the first 10 minutes, but Pierson responded with aggressive defense, charging the ball to clear the zone.
The Whalers (9-7) had the advantage for most of the first half, winning battles at midfield and breaking ahead for quick-developing rushes led by Ana Sherwood, but the Panthers fought back in the second, creating open space and beating defenders.
"They have great defense and it was hard to get the ball into the circle when we wanted to," Parrella said. "[But] we can keep going forward and hopefully have a better game at LICs."