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Shannon Bernhardt assists on three goals as Massapequa gets back on track

Mackenzie Conkling of Massapequa, right, gets congratulated by

Mackenzie Conkling of Massapequa, right, gets congratulated by teammate Shannon Bernhardt after scoring a goal in a Nassau Conference I field hockey match against Baldwin at Field of Dreams Park in Massapequa on Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. Photo Credit: James Escher

When a talented team such as Massapequa loses three games in a week, and four straight overall, one looks for symptoms of what’s wrong.

Junior midfielder Shannon Bernhardt had a simple diagnosis: “Previously, we had trouble finishing [on offense].”

But whatever was ailing the Chiefs certainly seems to have disappeared, especially after yesterday’s 5-0 win against visiting Baldwin in a Nassau I field hockey game at Field of Dreams.

Maybe all that Massapequa — which has won seven straight Nassau Class A titles — needed was a pregame team consultation with the Chiefs coaching staff about a half hour before the game.

“It’s now or never,” was the message Chiefs coach Melodee Ahrens gave her team. “We have to get our heads in the game.”

It didn’t take long for Massapequa (3-5, 1-3 Nassau I) to show it heard Ahrens’ message. Bernhardt set up Caitlyn O’Connor off a penalty corner to give the Chiefs a 1-0 lead just 2:08 into the game. It was the first of three assists for Bernhardt. Mackenzie Conkling added an unassisted goal about four minutes later.

The Bruins nearly cut Massapequa’s 2-0 lead in half in the ninth minute, but Chiefs goalie Kaley Theodorous made three point-blank stops in a span of 10 seconds. Theodorous had seven saves. Kailey Brower had six stops for Baldwin (4-3, 1-3).

Massapequa looked far different from a team that lost three games last week by a combined score of 10-2. The Chiefs made it 3-0 after a goal by Sarah Whelan off a scramble in front with 1:38 left in the first half.

“We talked before the game that we’re halfway through the season, but it’s all coming together,” Whelan said. “Not only did we start strong, we finished strong.”

Indeed. Massapequa ended any hopes of a Baldwin comeback with second-half goals by Bridget Neal and Ally Kanapes in a span of four-plus minutes, the latter coming with 20:07 remaining. The Chiefs had lost on Baldwin’s grass field, 2-1, on Sept. 17.

“We’ll see Baldwin again,” Ahrens said, “in either the [Nassau Class A] semifinals or finals.”

For now, the Chiefs’ focus is on their remaining games this week against Oyster Bay and Carle Place after a tough four-game losing streak.

“The losses only make a team stronger,” Whelan said. “You can stay down, but we chose to pick ourselves back up and get better.”

Sounds like a healthy patient.

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