Grace Agrillo of Huntington charges down the field during a...

Grace Agrillo of Huntington charges down the field during a Suffolk Division I girls lacrosse game against Smithtown East in St. James on Wednesday, May 10, 2023. Credit: Peter Frutkoff

Grace Agrillo knew Wednesday wasn’t going to be an easy afternoon for her. And that’s exactly what she wanted to hear.

Not many game days have been easy for the senior midfielder. When the Huntington girls lacrosse team plays against an elite playmaker, Agrillo often draws the assignment of trying to slow her down. She had this responsibility again Wednesday and shined in face-guarding Smithtown East’s Ava Arceri, an All-American selection last year, in Huntington’s 8-6 victory over host Smithtown East in Suffolk Division I girls lacrosse.

“I was ready for this,” Agrillo said. “I’ve been practicing this against our girls for so long and I was just like, ‘I’m going to take her today. I wanted to shut her down.’ It’s really hard because she has insane stick skills and such fast feet that it’s like impossible to read. It’s so scary because every move she makes is fast.”

But her coaches and teammates had complete trust in Agrillo.

“Shout out Grace Agrillo,” said Laurel Bonn, a senior defender. “She locked off one of the top recruits in the nation. We’ve face-guarded other teams but this was the best our defense has ever looked. This is everything we’ve worked for and it really came together in this game.”

The Blue Devils (10-6, 9-5) believed they needed Wednesday’s win. They suffered one-goal losses to Commack and Floyd — two of the top teams in the Division — and wanted that impressive victory before entering the playoffs. Smithtown East falls to 10-4, 9-4 in Suffolk I.

“We’ve worked our whole entire season for this win,” Agrillo added. “I think they took us for granted and we took advantage of that.”

Agrillo was key on offense also with three goals and an assist. She scored with 19:58 left in the second half to break a tie at 5 to begin a 3-0 scoring run for Huntington. She scored eight minutes later and capped off a possession lasting longer than three minutes by assisting a goal by Kayleigh Bender. Bender finished with two goals and two assists.

“This is my last regular-season game of my high school career so just doing something like this really ended it off well,” Agrillo said. “Offensively, we played such a great game and we waited until the plays were perfect and set and ready to go and every goal we had was just beautiful because of our patience.”

“She did exactly what she was supposed to do and what we thought she could do,” coach Katie Reilly said. “And she just showed everybody she’s here to play.”

Alexis Savage had three goals and Jenna Mehlinger added a goal and two assists for Smithtown East.

Huntington dominated possession the majority of the final 12 minutes. The Blue Devils emphasized ball control, didn’t rush their shots and that was pivotal to holding onto the victory over a strong offensive team like Smithtown East. Huntington held the ball the final 2:45 after Reese Rinaldi caused a turnover and scooped up the ground ball.

“I feel those last few minutes really proved who Huntington lacrosse is,” Bonn said. “Five goals could be scored in two minutes, so I think our grit and our hard work and what Huntington truly is is what we played on that field.”

With the postseason set to begin next week, Huntington hopes to carry this momentum into the Class A playoffs.

“This shows us that we really can,” Reilly said. “We say we can, but we haven’t really proved it yet. But now I think the girls can believe it. We did it. And not just close, we got the win.”

“People underestimate us, so I feel this was the win we needed to prove to everyone that we can be at the top,” Bonn said. “This proved that we can beat any team.”

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