Ward Melville's Jessica Fabrizio catches her breath at the end...

Ward Melville's Jessica Fabrizio catches her breath at the end of the 500 freestyle race in the Suffolk high school girls swim meet against North Babylon/Deer Park. (Oct. 25, 2011) Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The Ward Melville girls swimming team continued its winning ways with a dominant 98-39 win over Deer Park/North Babylon Tuesday in the final regular-season meet. The Patriots finished 7-0 in Suffolk League I, completing their sixth straight undefeated season.

Now that the season is over, coach Chris Gordon has his team focused on the county championships, which will be held on Saturday, Nov. 12 at Suffolk Community College. Ward Melville eyes its 20th straight county championship.

"Twenty is a big one," Gordon said. "I've felt more pressure this year than in any other year because I don't want to let the girls down."

Gordon is in his 18th season and the Patriots have lost only twice during his tenure. Their last loss came in 2005.

The girls have been motivated this year to make history and complete two decades of success, and they said they get recognized around school and the community. "It's pretty awesome," said senior captain Jessica Fabrizio, who will be swimming at Binghamton University next year. "It's amazing to be on a team that's so competitive and that fights to win."

Despite the excitement that comes with the chance to make history, it also comes with added pressure. "It's exciting but it also puts a target on our backs because everyone wants to come after us," said senior captain Alexandra Donnelly.

Ward Melville had a swimmer or relay team finish in first place in every event except the 400-yard freestyle relay Tuesday. In the nine individual events, the Patriots finished 1-2-3 in seven of them.

Fabrizio, Donnelly and Liyan Yao were all multiple winners. Fabrizio won the 500-yard freestyle (5:23.61) and 100 breast-stroke (1:11.89); Donnelly won the 200 free (2:04.42) and 100 free (:56.56); Yao won the 200 individual medley (2:18.34) and the 100 backstroke (1:09.95)

"We have a lot of depth, which has always been our strength," Gordon said. "The fact that we're a strong team top to bottom is what's propelled us these past couple years."

Of the 42 girls, 22 swim on club team all-year round and Gordon said that gives him a lot of flexibility to set lineups.

"He's a fantastic coach, he's very supportive of all of us," Yao said. "His lineups are always put together so we have the best chance to win."

Yesterday was Senior Day and the 11 seniors were honored before the meet. Fabrizio, Yao and Donnelly, along with fellow senior captain Alison Sagliocca (1-meter dive winner with a score of 181.87) competed together in the 200-yard freestyle relay for the first time this year and won with a time of 1:54.14.


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