Most coaches would be content with a two-goal lead at halftime in the Suffolk County Class B girls lacrosse semifinals. But not Eastport South Manor head coach Becky Thorn, who ripped into her team shortly after the whistle blew at the end of the first half.
Whatever Thorn said to her players worked, as the Lady Sharks defeated Rocky Point 14-5 at home on May 21. The victory advanced ESM to the finals where it will try and defend its county title against Sayville on Thursday, May 30, at the Dowling College Sports Complex in Shirley at 5 p.m. Sayville defeated Harborfields 10-8 in the other semifinal game last week to advance.
Thorn explained after last week’s game that her team tends to get too comfortable at times. The Lady Sharks had defeated Rocky Point 9-3 at home during the regular season.
“I just gave them a little reality check,” she said. “It’s been a problem all season, knowing that we are a pretty superior team and thinking that teams are just going to kind of lay down for us.
“[Rocky Point] has three or four studs that are going to top colleges and we came out flat,” she added. “I think we were a little nervous too. But at halftime, I gave them a little reality check, a little screaming, but they all agreed with me. They didn’t think I was nuts. They understood it and totally turned their game around.”
Rocky Point led 3-2 after junior Ashley Faulhaber’s goal at 8:45 in the first half. But after an ESM timeout, the Lady Sharks scored three unanswered goals and led 5-3 by halftime.
The Lady Sharks’ dominance continued in the second half, and after Thorn’s pep talk, as they scored five goals to take a commanding 10-3 lead. Rocky Point senior Alyssa Guido finally ended the run with a goal at 14:57 in the second half, but the Lady Sharks continued to pour it on. Eventually ESM just stalled in its offensive end until the final whistle blew.
Thorn said the difference between the first half and second half was confidence. “In the first half, especially offensively, they were shaky,” she said of her team. “The defense was so caught up on who was marking who that they were just leaving open cutters and [Rocky Point] was able to capitalize. Once we came out in the second half, we scored the first two goals and that gave confidence to our attack.”
ESM junior Kristen Anderson finished the game with a hat trick, an assist and won five draw controls while junior Dakota Mason scored five goals and had two assists. Junior Jackie Wasilko also scored a hat trick. Freshman Kaelie Huff, sophomore Allyson Tolken and senior Marissa Gurello each scored a goal, and sophomore Samantha Giacolone made five saves in goal.
Mason, one of many offensive leaders for ESM, said Thorn’s halftime speech was needed. “She’s always positive, so that’s a good thing, and so are the other coaches,” she said. “It made us pump each other up.”
ESM junior Rebecca Tooker, a vocal leader on the defense, said the team’s defensive game plan was to stop Guido and senior Alyssa Milano, who combined for just three goals. “Both are excellent players, but we just all had to step up our game in the second half,” she said, “We’re a second-half team and we came together and we worked together. Sam, our goalie, is the leader of us. We just listen to her. She can do all of the talking and we just listen and we come together.”
Tooker added that it feels great to be back in the county finals. “Everyone said that, without the seniors that had already graduated, that we might be the underdogs,” she said. “But this year we’re coming back out on top and we hope to get the county championship.”
ESM now turns its attention to Sayville, which earned the top seed in Class B after a 12-2 Division II record this season. ESM handed Sayville one of its two losses though with an 8-7 victory at home back on April 17. Thorn said her team needs to be ready for a Sayville team that is yearning for a win over the Lady Sharks, who also bounced the Lady Golden Flashes last season in the county semis.
“They are the number one seed this year and I think they’re coming out for some revenge,” Thorn said.