It started with a ground ball. A sea of black and white swarmed. Hailey Rhatigan surfaced as the victor, swooping the ball up and running down field. Two or three passes later, the ball was in Emma Murphy’s hands.
With 1:19 remaining in the second overtime, Murphy scored, earning Sachem North a 9-8 victory against West Islip Wednesday in a Suffolk I girls lacrosse opener.
“We kept thinking ‘let’s get this goal.’ We knew it was sudden death and we were waiting for the perfect moment,” Murphy said. “This whole game we knew in our heads that this was us . . . and we made it happen.”
Obviously this close matchup started long before that ground ball. Let’s start with the second half.
Sachem North was down most of the second half trailing by either one or two goals. Cassidy Griffin tied the score at 7 on a player-up advantage, off an assist from Grace Lipponer, with 7:14 remaining.
Carolyn O’Brien finally gave Sachem North the lead, 8-7, with 5:49 left off an assist from Rhatigan with West Islip two players down.
The Lions didn’t falter. Right before their second player was added to the game, Danielle Marino scored her fourth goal for West Islip, tying the score at 8 with 4:16 left.
“I was a little nervous when they scored to tie the game,” said Rhatigan, who had two goals and two assists. “But I knew with Ashley in the goal and our defense we could stop them.”
The first overtime was all about the goalies. Ashley Perrini made a huge save, her sixth, for the Flaming Arrows a minute into OT.
Lauren DiStefano, seconds before the end of OT, made her fifteenth save for the Lions, having the ball bounce off her stick and then catching it.
“As an attack, I didn’t know defense wins championships, you know that little motto, but on this team you really see it,” Murphy said. “Ashley did an amazing job and never let anything get in her head.”
In retrospect, this game started last season. West Islip defeated Sachem North in similar fashion, with the score reversed, minus the overtime.
“We lost to them. Down with 12 minutes left, two players down, they were up by one. We wanted a good revenge and we got it,” Rhatigan said.
“We came into this game hungry, definitely hungry for a win and we took it as a team,” Eve Calabria said. “They are an awesome team and this is all we could’ve asked for.”