Overtime. A word that has haunted the Ward Melville field hockey team — until Nov. 12.
After two years of heartbreak in the state tournament and watching their opponents celebrate in overtime, the weight was lifted as senior Kerri Thornton found the back of the cage, scoring the winning goal as the Patriots beat Maine-Endwell for the school’s first state field hockey crown since 2008.
It also capped a perfect 22-0 season.
“I didn’t see the ball go in at first, but I did see everybody sprinting toward me,” Thornton said after the game. “When I saw them sprinting toward me, I knew it was over and it was just incredible . . . It’s an amazing feeling.”
The Patriots, led by Lexi Reinhardt’s eight goals, outscored opponents 19-2 in their six postseason contests, but 10 of the team’s 22 games were decided by one goal.
The Patriots’ season ended how it began, in overtime, after beating Rocky Point, 3-2, in the opener.
“We haven’t been challenged like that in a while, since the playoffs the year before and in the regular season for a while as well,” coach Sharon Sioss said. “It just showed a lot of resiliency with the girls and drive. From that point on, we knew that if we can continue that fight it could be a great year.”
After the Rocky Point game, Sioss shifted Thornton — who had scored 21 goals as a junior — from forward to midfield.
“She knew it was best for her team and wanted to do whatever she could,” Sioss said. “It was a huge asset to have her and Kate Mulham in the midfield together.”
Playing the middle allowed Thornton to get more touches on the ball on the offensive and defensive ends.
Sioss credited the defensive line with the team’s success in big games, including Shannon Coughlan, the only returning defender from last season’s roster. The team graduated nine seniors, seven of which were in the starting lineup.
Following an Oct. 3 one-goal win against Eastport-South Manor, Thornton had a key conversation with the coaching staff.
“After the game my coaches asked me ‘so what do you think?’ ” Thornton said. “I responded, ‘I think we could do it,’ and coach Sioss responded ‘so do I.’ ”
ROAD TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP
Sachem East, 2-1
Long Island final
Maine-Endwell, 1-0 OT