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Ward Melville beats Garden City in battle of premier LI field hockey teams

Ward Melville celebrates the game-winning goal by Lexi

Ward Melville celebrates the game-winning goal by Lexi Reinhardt in a non-league field hockey win over Garden City on Monday, October 10, 2016. Credit: Peter Frutkoff

Whether it’s helping her complete a thought, or converting a pass, Ward Melville’s Lexi Reinhardt is always there for her good friend and teammate Kerri Thornton.

So it was no surprise on Monday afternoon that Thornton was able to find Reinhardt for the winning goal in a 2-1 victory over Garden City in a non-league game.

The sophomore forward found the back of the net with 1:17 left as the host and defending Long Island Class A champion Patriots won a thriller that had the feel of a state championship between two of Long Island’s premier field hockey programs.

“I saw my pass go behind the [Garden City] goalie [Ann Sullivan] and Lexi tipped it in,” said Thornton, who leads Long Island with 18 goals and 25 points. “It was so, not relieving, but amazing. I really don’t know how to explain it because it was just so exciting.”

It didn’t seem that things were going to be too exciting for the Patriots (13-0) after Taylor Gladd took a feed from Devon Heaney and gave Garden City — which has won three straight Nassau B titles — a 1-0 lead 8:37 into the first half.

“We’ve never been scored on first [this season], so it kind of set us back,” said Patriots senior goalie Bella Nelin, who made six saves. “Then we were like, ‘Let’s go, we’re fine. Let’s keep playing as hard as we can.’ ”

Thornton capitalized on Ward Melville’s only opportunity of the first half off a penalty corner, converting a pass from Hannah Lorenzen with 2:54 left for the equalizer. Garden City dominated most of the action, until Patriots coach Shannon Watson called a timeout with 12:32 to play and openly questioned her team.

“Are you done playing defense? Would you like to play a little attack,” Watson said of her speech during the timeout. “We can’t score if we don’t play some offense.”

The Patriots responded, setting up the Thornton-to-Reinhardt connection. It was the first time the Trojans (11-1) had lost a game on Long Island since Sept. 27, 2014.

“It was a matchup of two highly-skilled teams battling back and forth and it could have gone either way,” Garden City coach Diane Chapman said. “Today it went their way and we just ran out of time.”

So what does this win mean for the Patriots program?

“I think this shows the team,” Thornton said, “how much we can . . . ”

Reinhardt jumped in: “It shows a lot of improvement from last year to this year.”

“Yes, definitely,” said Thornton, laughing.

Just another great finish by Reinhardt.


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