Sayville's Ava Vadyak catches a pass during the Division II...

Sayville's Ava Vadyak catches a pass during the Division II final at the NYSPHSAA Flag Football Championships in Cortland, N.Y., Sunday. Credit: Adrian Kraus

CORTLAND — For the first time all year, Sayville was outmatched.

The Golden Flashes lost to Bishop Kearney (Rochester), 39-20, in a clash of unbeatens in the inaugural Division II flag football state championship game Sunday at Cortland High School.

“They’re terrific kids. This is the worst part about losing a game because you don’t want them to go through this heartache,” Sayville coach Reade Sands said. “Coming up to states is great, but you want to win it all.”

Sayville had no answer for Nela Lopusanova, who caught four touchdown passes and had three interceptions. Greta Brezenski threw for four TDs and ran for another for Bishop Kearney, which scored the game’s final 13 points.

“All you need is seven [players]. They have 15 players, and every time they put someone on the field, they were all really good players,” Sands said.

Bishop Kearney took a 13-0 lead in the first five minutes, but Sayville came right back. A 13-yard touchdown pass from Olivia Moynihan to Ava Vadyak followed by Ava Rueb’s 75-yard interception return for a TD tied the score at 13 with 12:27 left in the first half.

Brezenski ended the first half with a 5-yard rushing touchdown and opened the second half with a 10-yard TD pass to Lopusanova for a 26-13 lead. Sayville senior Faith Roben intercepted a pass at the Bishop Kearney 8-yard line with 7:19 remaining and Moynihan ran for a TD on the ensuing play.

It was all Bishop Kearney (16-0) from there.

Rueb, who pulled 12 flags for Sayville (14-1), is one of 15 seniors on the Golden Flashes’ impressive 49-player roster.

“I never thought I could be this close with this many people,” she said. “To be best friends with almost 50 girls, I really think these friendships are going to last.”

Sayville dominated the Suffolk competition on its way to Cortland, outscoring its opponents 316-89 in the regular season. Sands plans to add a junior varsity team next season and sees the program growing from here.

“The future is bright for us and for the sport in general,” Sands said. “I’m hoping that the NFL gets colleges going with scholarships because it’s a great game and the girls love it.”

Bishop Kearney coach Stephanie Strassner said, “I hope that this win is bigger than just our school and our team. I think it goes to show how important flag football is to this next generation of young female athletes. Being involved in something that’s growing and evolving like this makes me so excited for the sport.”

 
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