Sachem East’s post-game reaction to capturing its first Class A state title with a 1-0 penalty stroke win over Mamaroneck.
Flaming Arrows’ goalie Samantha Alvino made 12 saves to keep it scoreless through regulation and two overtimes. Heck of a performance to end her high school career.
Finally being a state champion: “It’s been such a long time coming. All the Sachem East teams before us and our family, it’s for them; it’s for everyone.”
The lights-out performance: “I just don’t know how I feel. Courtney Hallick and Jess Caruana had my back on some saves. We had each other’s backs. This was the biggest game for us, ever, and we were so motivated.”
Jordan Miller’s save of Mamaroneck’s last shot in the first round of strokes: “She’s worked so hard on doing strokes and we knew she’d come through there. We’re so proud of her.”
The two goalies shared duty throughout the season. Alvino, the senior, started and Miller, a junior, relieved her in most second halves. In the state final, Alvino stayed in goal until after the second overtime. What’s the dynamic like? “We’ve been friends since I was 9 so we support each other and work well together. We’re both competitive and we push each other.”
Jordan Miller made three saves in strokes, including one to force a second round of strokes. With each team having scored twice in strokes, Sachem East missed on its last attempt of the round, giving Mamaroneck’s Scarlett Fugazy a chance to win it. Miller made a sliding save to her right.
That save: “I had to do it for my seniors and this team… I’m thinking, ‘Thank God I got it. We’re gonna stay in it and we’re gonna win.’”
When Jessica Caruana scored in the 1-v-1 second round of strokes to put the Flaming Arrows up 1-0: “I’m thinking, ‘Good job, Jess! I just have to get this next one and we’re champions.’”
When Jessica Gardiner’s shot hit the pipe, giving Sachem East the title: “I’m thinking, ‘Thank God it hit the pipe.’”
(If you’re wondering why Miller started each response with “I’m thinking,” it’s the way I phrased the questions in succession. I might’ve asked “What were you thinking” on about four questions – after a couple I realized it and asked a couple more just to mock myself – and I think she realized it too and a couple “I’m thinking” answers were half-facetious. So don’t go thinking she thinks like that.)
Being state champions: “It’s amazing. We finally got one. We can now say the basketball team isn’t the only one that can win big at Sachem.”
Winning the first Suffolk, Long Island and New York titles all in the same season: “We’re the Dream Team, I guess.” (See, unlike Vince Young, she made the claim after the championship was won.)
Kristen Bagley “twisted” her right knee and went down in pain near the right sideline at 20:47 of the first half. She was evaluated by the trainer on the sideline, iced the knee, and reentered the game 5:05 before halftime. Bagley, the team’s fastest player, was definitely slowed by the injury, though. She’ll undergo tests this week.
The decision to go back in: “I’m a senior and I really wanted to push myself to play in my last game… I’m OK.”
Contributing to a state championship despite being injured: “I’m just glad we won. It’s very exciting. We’d never won anything before. I can’t even explain. It’s so awesome.”
The missed shot in penalty strokes, tied 1-1: “I wasn’t worried at all because I know our goalie is awesome and she’d pick us up.”
Jessica Caruana got the winning penalty stroke, sending a low liner into the left corner by Mamaroneck goalie Nina Kumar.
The winning penalty stroke: “I knew what I had to do and I had to get it done. Once Jordan made that save, I knew we had it.”
When Mamaroneck’s last PS hit the pipe: “I went kamikaze. The referees were debating and talking it over, but I knew we won so I was going crazy in my head… When it was official that we won, none of us could think straight.”
(Jordan Miller chimes in: “I’m the team DJ, too.” That was in reference to this.)
Heartbreaks of seasons past and then winning it all: “I love it. We all love each other and we did this for each other. It’s a lot, it’s hard to even fathom.”
Bagley getting hurt: “We had to pick her up. We wanted to do it for her and we all had to play a little faster to try to make up for her speed not being out there.”
What’s the bus ride gonna be like? “Singing! I didn’t sing on the way up so I’m gonna sing on the way back.”
Winning a state championship as a sophomore: “It feels amazing. No one on this team ever had that experience [of being champs]. It’s a great feeling.”
Skipping the step-by-step and winning it all after getting the first Suffolk championship: “I always say this, but, all our hard work paid off. We definitely weren’t stopping at counties; we were going all the way.”
Caruana’s penalty stroke: “It was such a relief. A couple of us missed so we were biting our nails. When Jess made hers and the girl from Mamaroneck missed, we all took a deep breath and then it hit us, ‘We’re state champs.’”
The holdup after Mamaroneck’s miss that resulted in the officials consulting the rule book: “We knew the rules so we knew we were champions. There was some frustration with the refs telling us that we’re not and we’re doing [another round of 5 penalty strokes].”
The questionable calls in the second half. (e.g. The Sachem East bench got riled up with 3:54 left in the first overtime when Bagley, on a fast break, was tripped in front of the goal and a penalty stroke wasn’t rewarded): “It was definitely frustrating. We realized by about the middle of the first half that there would be calls going against us. We wanted to show them that we’ll win whether or not they make the calls.”
Tina Moon, in her 12th year as head coach of Sachem East, finally triumphed.
What does the championship mean to you? “I knew this was a big year for us. Our mindset was… I’m elated. These kids worked very hard… I don’t even know what to say…”
(Note: The reason I’m running this quote like that, with the pauses, is I think it kind of captures the tone and in-the-moment feeling. Moon’s typically composed and well-spoken, but she really was excited and lost for words right there. That’s real jubilation.)
The team overcoming Bagley’s injury, the missed opportunities, tension and some questionable calls down the stretch: “This is a resilient team. You knock ‘em down, they get back up. They’ll never give up; they don’t have that in their mentality. Even when Katie [Trombetta] missed that first stroke, I knew everyone else would step up. Jordan stepped up and so did the other strokers. I knew Jess would put it in because she lives for this.”
Caruana’s clutch penalty strokes in the semifinals and final: “It’s been a long time coming for her and she’s earned everything she’s gotten the last four years. To end her career with that, what a great feeling that must be for her.”
Performance of the two goalies: “Sam Alvino made some amazing saves in the first half and when a goalie’s hot like that you have to make the decision to keep her in. And we knew going into strokes that Jordan would do the job.”
The singing on the bus: “I’ve got my two-microphone karaoke machine, so game on… ‘I Will Survive’ is my favorite song.”
PS: A big thank you to Mamaroneck Lady, the fan who kept leaning against the railing of the stands and screaming at the top of her lungs, “Momentum, Ma-maro-neeeeeeeeck!!! Momentum! Momentum! Ma-maro-neeeeeeck!!!” This was during every clock stoppage and at random points during the games. Yeah, with the odd pronunciation of Mamaroneck and all. Between the semifinals and championship game, I probably heard it about 15 times. And it never stopped being funny.
Shout-out to the fans for doing the hilarious “Let’s hear it for milk!” stomp-n-clap cheer during a timeout after the U.S. Dairy chocolate milk promo was read. Didn’t see who started it, but I’m gonna assume it was the Sachem East crowd.