It was fitting for the game between the only two remaining undefeated teams in girls lacrosse’s Division II to be decided in sudden-death overtime. Unfortunately, for the Eastport South Manor squad, the game ended up in extra stanzas after the Lady Sharks squandered a three-goal lead late in the game to fall to Mount Sinai, 6-5, on the road on May 1.
The win pretty much secured the division title for the Lady Mustangs, who sit at 11-0 going into the final week of the season with 172.37 power points. ESM sits in second with a 10-1 mark and 159.09 points while Sayville trails not far behind at 9-2 with 156.4. Even though the Lady Sharks sit in second in the division standings, they are still the top team among the county’s Class B schools as Mount Sinai is a Class C school.
Perhaps an even bigger loss that came that day for the Lady Sharks was the news that one of their top attack players, Kaeli Huff, is done for the season with a torn lateral meniscus. Huff played through the pain in the game against Mount Sinai but finally had to notify her coaching staff about the injury following that game. She was scheduled to have surgery on Monday.
With 13 minutes to go and allowing just one goal all day, it looked like the Lady Sharks should have had the game against Mount Sinai almost wrapped up as Lady Shark Kristin Anderson extended her team’s lead to 4-1 with a free-position goal.
Immediately following that score, Mount Sinai’s coaching staff called timeout. It is unknown what was talked about in that huddle but whatever it was, it sparked the Lady Mustangs’ offense into action, specifically Kasey Mitchell.
Mitchell scored two perfectly placed goals around ESM keeper Samantha Giacolone, one of the top goalies in the county who made 15 stops that day, in a span of 40 seconds to cut the visitors’ lead to 4-3 with just more than nine minutes remaining in the game.
It was then time for ESM to call for time.
And again, the brief encounter with the coach made a difference, this time for ESM.
The Lady Sharks got some breathing room with another Anderson score two minutes later to go up 5-3.
Giacolone saved a free-position shot from Lady Mustang Jess Demeo with 5:25 to go in the game, however, during the final two minutes Mount Sinai put a pair in the back of the net, both on free position shots, to even things up at 5-5 and force overtime.
“I think our momentum was shot,” ESM head coach Becky Thorn said. “They got down on themselves and it got to the point where they wanted to be the hero so we were doing crazy stick checks on the defensive end. A lot of their goals were possession shots for stupid fouls, three-second calls. We just weren’t paying attention.”
Overtime for girls lacrosse is two three-minute periods and during the first, the Lady Mustangs won the draw and maintained possession the entire three minutes, running down the clock and attempting three shots, none of which they converted, during the final seconds of the period.
It was much of the same in the second overtime period, however, ESM’s Becca Tooker drew a charge from Lady Mustang Shayna Pirreca with 20 seconds to go. The ensuing possession resulted in a free position shot by Kelsey Huff with one second left on the clock but Mount Sinai’s Julia Michaels made the save to force sudden death.
Just as in the first two overtime periods, Mount Sinai won the draw and this time, Sydney Pirreca, who Thorn said is one of the county’s best attacks, found the back of the net with 1:47 to go on a free possession thanks to a shooting space call on ESM to keep her team undefeated.
“In triple OT, it was an opinion call on the shooting space that I don’t know was the right call but we can’t blame the refs,” Thorn said. “The girls were all upset blaming themselves individually but we told them it’s a team sport; not one player is to blame.”
Sydney Pirreca’s game-winning goal was her third of the day as she got things started on offense in the opening minutes, scoring the game’s first goal three minutes in. That lead was short-lived as Anderson scored her first of the day on a free position two minutes later.
Lady Shark Jacqueline Wasilko gave her team a 2-1 lead with 18:11 to go in the first half and then the visitors went up 3-1 when Kaeli Huff scored on a free position after taking a stick to the head with 13:26 to go in the half.
The Lady Sharks missed out on an opportunity to extend their lead in the waning minutes of the half as Mount Sinai’s Rayna Sabella was hit with a two-minute trip to the penalty box, leaving ESM a man up. Mount Sinai managed to gain and maintain possession of the ball throughout the penalty call to run out the two minutes without ESM even getting a shot at the goal.
Giacolone kept the two-goal lead intact during the final 18 seconds of the half, stopping a free position shot from Mount Sinai’s Niki Baker as well as the second attempt by the Lady Mustangs.
The loss to Mount Sinai caused a bit of a hangover for the Lady Sharks, who faced Westhampton Beach on the road on Saturday. ESM managed to escape with the win, 9-7, however, it was much closer than coach Thorn felt it should have been.
“We seemed flat and not into it,” Thorn said. “It was tough because it was at 4 p.m. on a Saturday and I’m sure my girls weren’t all in bed at a good time the night before. We have beat that team by a lot in the past and I think my girls may have just taken that as a given that we would again without much effort.”
Kelsey Huff led all scorers with three goals and Anderson and Laura Kesnig each scored twice. Hannah Kenneally and Tolken each scored one goal.
Giacolone made six saves.