Stress turned to relief in a matter of seconds on the Wantagh sideline Tuesday.
Having watched an 8-2 halftime advantage dwindle to a 12-11 lead with only 2:33 to play, the Warriors won the draw, maintained possession and killed the clock to secure a tough win over Manhasset in Nassau I girls lacrosse.
Manhasset scored the final four goals between 5:08 and 2:33, turning what appeared to be a safe 12-8 lead into a dangerous one-score advantage.
“A great team like Manhasset, we knew they were going to come back,” Wantagh goalie Grace Beshlian said. “But it was a little too close for comfort.”
An early stretch of dominance by Ally Murphy highlighted a successful first half for Wantagh. She scored three times in 1:01, putting Wantagh up 4-1.
“The momentum was going right off the draws, and I think the fast breaks were there and we were just working it up the side,” Murphy said. “As we were double-cutting through the middle, the cuts were all there.”
Murphy contributed to a run in which the Warriors scored six times between 7:02 and 2:27 to play.
“Ally’s always a strong player,” coach Bobbi Colavita said. “She gets right in there, she finds the pathway and she can hit the net.”
Nikki Sliwak netted two consecutive goals after Murphy’s third, and Madison Conway scored to finish the run. Conway also connected with Kaitlyn Cerasi to beat the halftime buzzer and give Wantagh its 8-2 lead at the break.
But that’s when things began to turn south. The Indians scored the second half’s first three goals, bringing them within three at 8-5. Cerasi put Wantagh back in the driver’s seat off a feed from Darcie Smith. Taylor Carson scored 25 seconds later on a quick run off the draw.
Not to be outdone, Manhasset (7-2) answered with two of its own. Katie Bellucci converted a free position and Erin Barry notched one of her four assists on a helper to Liz Harris, cutting the deficit to 10-7.
Free position goals by Megan Gordon and Taylor Rossi at 11:01 and 6:06 pushed Wantagh’s lead back to 12-7 before Manhasset’s late surge came up short.
Beshlian made six saves along the way, and the Warriors rely on one of Long Island’s top goalies in clutch situations.
“She had a great first half,” Murphy said. “She had so many saves. She saved all of us. When we got beat, she was there for us.”
But Murphy provided the early punch, and while it may have been a forgotten stretch after a stressful second half, the Warriors certainly appreciated the effort.