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Katie and Cara Trombetta lead Sachem East to win over Garden City in battle of top LI teams

Sachem East midfielder Kaitlin Trombetta passes the ball

Sachem East midfielder Kaitlin Trombetta passes the ball against Garden City in a non-league field hockey game. (Oct. 8, 2012) Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Katie and Cara Trombetta never really got into this field hockey stuff until seventh grade. Yeah, even with the sport in their blood -- almost literally -- the Sachem East stars were all about soccer early on.

But when mom is a former college field hockey player and high school coach . . . "It was never serious, but from when I was 7 and she was 5," Katie said of her and Cara, "we'd be in the backyard just passing the ball around to each other."

It was more of an organized setting Monday, and the stakes were a wee bit higher, but the Trombetta girls were passing the ball around in their proverbial backyard.

Off a feed from Katie, Cara scored a first-half goal and host Sachem East held on to beat Garden City, 1-0, in a ballyhooed matchup of Long Island's top teams.

"We tried to stay focused as if it was just another game, but we really wanted to prove ourselves," said Cara, a freshman. "This is an awesome feeling."

Thanks in large part to the sister act, the Flaming Arrows (10-0) dealt Garden City its first loss to a Long Island opponent since a 1-0 defeat against Ward Melville in 2009.

Katie took a penalty corner insert on the left wing, drove inside a few feet and sent a skip pass to Cara, camped about 3 yards right of the cage. The younger Trombetta slapped it into the far corner with 16:56 to go before halftime.

"The team worked hard to get that corner and it is about the team," Katie, a junior, said with a smile. "But then, it's definitely nice to get it to my sister."

Their mother, Patty Trombetta, starred at the University of Michigan and used to coach at Harborfields. Cara was promoted to varsity last year and quickly developed an on-field rapport with Katie, an All-American.

"We always know where the other is and we look for each other," said Katie, who, playing with the flu, was shifted from her usual midfield to the less demanding center-back position.

"Hats off to Sachem East," Trojans coach Diane Chapman said. "We lost to a great team. We made some adjustments in the second half and played better, so this is a game we'll learn from."

Allison Miller made one save for the Trojans (9-1).

Garden City, a longtime juggernaut in the sport, won its seventh straight Long Island championship en route to a second consecutive Class B state final last year. Sachem East, on the other hand, began its ascension only a year ago, winning the program's first Suffolk title and a state Class A championship.

"We wanted to test ourselves against a strong team and Garden City is an amazing challenge," Sachem East coach Tina Moon said. "They've won big games consistently over the years, and that's something we want to be able to do."

Well, Monday's win is another step toward that for Sachem East -- and further confirmation of where they already stand.

"We wanted to treat it like a normal game, but it really wasn't; there's cameras everywhere," said Jordan Miller, who made one save in the shutout. "I think we're under a huge microscope, but we came out with a win and that's exciting. Every win is a confidence-booster for us."

Sachem East owned the first half, controlled the ball for long stretches and was the aggressor. It showed in their five penalty corner attempts -- though it resulted in only one goal.

But that was enough with a resilient defense that forced turnovers, deflected several passes and blocked shots in the circle. Garden City controlled the tempo after intermission and drew four penalty corners in the first 20 minutes of the second half, but each was cleared. The last of which was snuffed out by Katie Trombetta's block tackle with 10:46 remaining.

"We know there's a target on our backs, but we're stepping up," Sachem East's Karyn Ryan said. "It's exciting because [Garden City] has that great winning tradition and we're starting to build ours."

They might be building a dynasty.

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