In a game that was tied and tense, Lexi Reinhardt came through for Ward Melville.
Her score off a penalty corner gave Ward Melville the lead and the Patriots would go on to beat Mamaroneck 3-1 on Saturday in the southeast regional Class A field hockey championship at Patchogue-Medford High School, earning a trip to the state semifinals. It will be the third straight trip to the state tournament for the undefeated Patriots (20-0).
“I don’t even have any words to say because I’m so proud of my team,” senior Kerri Thornton said. “It’s an amazing feeling to make it to states my senior year, that’s what you wish for. You don’t want to end the season early. I’m so proud of my team for making it.”
Ward Melville’s Caitlin Evans found a rolling ball on the doorstep and buried it into the back of the cage early in the second half for a 1-0 lead. Mamaroneck’s Emily Mahland tied the score less than five minutes later.
The Patriots did not have a penalty corner opportunity in the first half, but midway through the second half, they were granted five in a row. But given another chance Reinhardt gave the Patriots a 2-1 lead at 7:03. Thornton added an insurance score on a penalty corner tally with 2:52 to play.
Ward Melville goalie Meghan Lorenzen made five saves. Mamaroneck goalie Samantha Maresca had eight stops.
The Patriots fell to Mamaroneck, 2-1, in a tough double-overtime loss in the state finals two years ago. Last season, they dropped a 2-1 overtime game to Shenendehowa in the state semifinals.
Reinhardt said the team wants to win the state championship this time around.
“We’ve been practicing a lot to convert our corners because that’s been something we’ve been lacking the whole season,” Reinhardt said. “The past few practices been really honing in on our corner opportunities, and I think that translated to this game because all three of our goals were corners.”
Ward Melville will face the winner of Baldwinsville or Saratoga Springs on Nov. 11 at Maine-Endwell High School in the state semifinals.
“I think every year the team is hungry, but now that this is our third year going in a row, I know that our upperclassmen this year are extremely hungry,” Ward Melville coach Shannon Sioss said. “They want it more than anything, and hopefully third time’s the charm.”