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Manhasset's in the final (and words were spoken)

Manhasset defeated Wantagh, 11-7, in the Nassau Class B semifinals on Wednesday. This, of course, sets up a showdown for the county crown with Garden City. The Indians/Trojans boys lacrosse teams are also squaring off in their final and, for the girls, ‘tis a little rivalry revival from field hockey. (Yeah, I dropped another field hockey reference on the girls lacrosse blog. Deal with it.)

For those who weren’t there: The game was back and forth in the opening minutes, but Manhasset (14-3) took control about midway through the first half and led 10-5 at halftime. The Warriors defense really clamped down (and Kelly Keenan made several tough saves) to hold Manhasset to only a goal in the last 25 minutes. Problem there for Wantagh, though, was the Indians’ returned the favor – and they had a five-goal buffer. Goalie Grace Morelli darn near put a combination lock on the net in the second half to protect the lead.

“I think we had a lot of momentum in the beginning of the game,” Manhasset’s Cathryn Avallone said. “We came out with a lot of energy. In the second half we maybe got a little complacent. I think when we get into that mode, it takes over and it takes us a while to get back into our usual style.”  

Paula Schmidt’s goal with 7:04 left pulled Wantagh within three at 10-7, but that’s as close as they’d get.

Each time it seemed the Warriors threatened, it was answered by Kerri Fleishhacker, who scored four goals. Wantagh (12-4) had closed to within 8-5 late in the first half, and Fleishhacker scored at 1:49. Her goal with 29 seconds remaining in the game capped the scoring and sealed the win.

The victory avenged the Indians’ 13-11 loss to Wantagh on April 7. In a weird twist, the Warriors had led 10-5 at halftime of that game.

Manhasset, no stranger to counties having owned Class C for the better part of a decade, will face Garden City at 3 p.m. Wednesday at Hofstra for a shot at the “B” title.  

** A highlight for the Indians was the almost-identical spin moves (which preceded goals) executed by the Avallone sisters.  

Charlotte, a junior, broke it out first 9:53 into the game. She dodged a defender at the top of the arc, broke inside the 5 to the left of the goal where she was met by a defender to her right, quickly pivot and spun to her right to elude the pressure, and flicked the ball into the far corner over the goalie’s shoulder. (Ahhh, it was one of those “Ya had to be there” things. It looked better than I can describe it.) Cathryn, a senior, scored on a similar play with 53 seconds left in the half to make it 10-5. So I had to ask…

Halle Majorana said it’s called “The Avallone Spin Move.” She then went on to give a step-by-step demonstration of it. Majorana’s got the move broken down well, but said she’s never tried it in a game. Why not? “I can’t. I’m not an Avallone.” Not sure if it’s been trademarked or anything (actually, we’re pretty sure it hasn’t been), but Majorana clearly does not support move jacking. She’s got her own repertoire, including that double shot fake from close range.

From the Avallones…

“It’s more of an in-the-moment thing,” Charlotte said. “It wasn’t really planned out. I was under pressure [from the defense] and that’s the first thing that came to me.”

She doesn’t know exactly when either of them started using it, but figures Cathryn did it first because she’s been playing longer. (Cathryn whispers: “She’s stealing it from me.”)

“I think I’ve been doing [the spin move] since I was little,” Cathryn said. “I’m not thinking about the defenders around me, I’m just looking for open spaces. Whatever moves get me there, I guess.”

Was there a conscious effort to get one out after her little sister had done it first in the game? “No. I wasn’t thinking about it. It was just in the moment.”

** Fleishhacker, who missed a month and a half earlier this season with an injured right ankle, has scored four goals in each of the last two games. (She suffered a lateral sprain and a bone bruise during a practice on April 9.)

“I’ve been able to watch the team progress and succeed without me. We’ve really been working hard on being patient on offense and playing as a unit. I was on the sidelines and picturing myself playing so when I got back on the field I’d be able to mesh right in with everyone.”

Can watching be beneficial? “Definitely. I learned so much from being on the sideline. I kind of helped coach on the sideline because I saw so much. It’s a different perspective. It got me mentally prepared to get back.”

Anxiousness to return? “I was pretty anxious because it’s my senior year and I wanted to give everything I have. I’m happy I’m back. I’ve got a brace and I tape it up so it’s working.”

Being in the Class B final: “We’ve moved up and it didn’t stop us. Even though we lost to Wantagh and a couple other teams this season, that wasn’t stopping us.”

Facing Garden City: “We did lose to them in the regular season [13-6 on May 4], but we kept it close early on. We were up 4-2 at one point. Maybe we got a little complacent. But now we know. We’ve progressed so much this season and hopefully it works.”

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