Isn't a free position meant to penalize the defense? You know, give the offense an edge after a defensive infraction.
"It sounds weird, but I like free-position shots," Wantagh goalie Sophia Gambitsky said. "I used to struggle with them, but I've learned it's a benefit. The offensive players are planted in one stop so I can read the setup, and you get a clear view of the shot."
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Gambitsky, with her quickness, often has turned free positions into free possessions for the Warriors. There was more of that Thursday as she helped lead host Wantagh over Sacred Heart, 16-11, in a non-league girls lacrosse game.
Catie Ingrilli scored six goals, Brenna Connolly added five goals and two assists, and Colleen Lovett had three goals and two assists for the Warriors (3-0). Gambitsky made nine saves, four on free-position shots in the second half. She also left the cage for three interceptions.
"Sophia does everything you can ask," Connelly said. "She gives directions, make big stops, clears. She's the heart of our defense."
The offense was pumping, too. Lovett scored on a bouncer from 5 yards with 16:44 left in the first half to give Wantagh a 3-2 lead it didn't relinquish. Ingrilli's goal, off a flip from Connolly, made it 10-5 six seconds before intermission. "Everything has been clicking," Lovett said. "We know Sacred Heart is great, so this was a little bit of a confidence boost."
The Spartans ranked 37th in the country last season, so Wantagh's performance was somewhat of an early-season statement.Sacred Heart opened the second half with two quick goals, but the Warriors answered with four straight. Connolly's score, with 16:38 remaining, made it 14-7.
Meanwhile on defense . . . "We tried to cut off any adjacent passes and lock in on the scorers," said defender Ryley Weber, who forced two turnovers. "And it helps having Sophia back there when we need it."
Morgan Windsich scored three goals, Erin Pfail, Kathleen Berkery and Cara Urbank each had two for Sacred Heart (0-1).
The Spartans still had a chance, down 6, and drew two free positions in the last four minutes. So the goalie had them right where she wanted 'em.