The West Islip girls lacrosse team prepares for anything. And that’s a good thing because the Lions encountered an unusual situation yesterday — their opponent played a man down on defense for the final 12:20.
“In practice we do a lot of hypothetical things, meaning we’ll go man down on defense and stall the ball on offense for two minutes or so,” West Islip’s Vanessa Costantino said. “We work on possessions, and it’s kind of our main thing.”
Using the clock to their advantage was key in the Lions’ 9-8 Suffolk I victory. Sachem North picked up its fourth yellow card of the contest with 12:20 left in the second half, with West Islip clinging to a 6-5 lead.
This gave West Islip (8-1) a one-player advantage for the remainder of the game. But all West Islip wanted to do with the lead was keep the ball away from Sachem North.
Sachem North (6-4) stepped up the pressure on attackers and midfielders, causing turnovers and sometimes making a talented West Islip offense look flustered.
“We had to skip it behind and then look in the middle right away,” West Islip’s Emily Piciullo said of how the Lions handled pressure. “When the pressure comes up top, you have to look the opposite way.”
Piciullo was able to break through, netting a goal off a feed from Samantha Blair with 9:25 remaining, which increased West Islip’s lead to 7-5.
Emma Murphy scored just over a minute later, bringing the Flaming Arrows back within one. West Islip controlled the next draw — Piciullo won 10 of them on the afternoon — and chewed roughly two minutes off the clock before Costantino struck off a feed from Emily Beier for an 8-6 lead.
Then Murphy scored again for Sachem North. Beier responded with a goal with 2:24 remaining, giving West Islip a 9-7 lead.
Sachem North controlled the draw, and Brittani Sergio scored with 1:41 left to provide the final margin.
Murphy led Sachem North with three goals and one assist. Costantino had two goals and three assists, and Piciullo had four goals and one assist for West Islip.
“This game could have gotten away from us very easily,” West Islip coach Joe Nicolosi said. “There was one point we were up by two, and they’re man down and they come within one again. That’s tough.”
That’s why they work on the “what ifs.”