LILJ Battle of the Sound Recap & Players who Impressed

This past Saturday, January 6th marked the first LILJ Battle of the Sound Tournament at Stony Brook Indoor. The one day tournament featured eight high school girls varsity programs from Long Island, Hudson Valley, and Connecticut coming together to compete for the right to be crowned champion. Among the eight programs taking part in this Clash of Titans included Darien, St. Anthony’s, Cold Spring Harbor, Garden City, Suffern, New Canaan, Westhampton, and Wantagh, and it was the Darien Blue Wave who took home the inaugural championship after defeating the St. Anthony’s Friars 8-5 in the championship game.

Darien 

Dynamic Opening: Darien vs. Cold Spring Harbor

Darien’s tournament journey began with an assertive display against Cold Spring Harbor. An early 2-1 deficit didn’t dampen their spirit, as they quickly regrouped and unleashed a powerful offensive strategy. Midfield maestro Sadie Stafford, the Duke commit, sparked the team with four goals and two assists, while Yale commit Kelly Holmes added two goals, one assist and two ground balls setting the tone for the game. Future Princeton goalkeeper Elizabeth Gonnella’s agility was a cornerstone of Darien’s defense, making pivotal saves that helped secure an impressive 11-7 victory and set Darien onward to the semi-finals.

Intense Rivalry: Darien Triumphs Over Garden City

The intensity ramped up as Darien faced Garden City in a highly anticipated matchup. The game was controlled by the Blue Wave who  ultimately clinched an 11-6 win. Sadie Stafford, Morgan Hite and Kelly Holmes shone brightly, as they were each pivotal in edging out the competition. Darien’s defensive unit, bolstered by Yale commit Maggie Bellissimo’s ground ball pickups and Elizabeth Gonnella’s saves, proved impenetrable, maintaining the lead against a relentless Garden City offense.

Championship Showdown: Darien Overcomes St. Anthony’s

The championship game saw Darien pitted against the formidable St. Anthony’s in a clash that lived up to its billing. With a blend of tactical nous and sheer determination, Darien held their ground. Kelly Holmes, with her balanced attack contributing two goals and an assist, and Elizabeth Gonnella, continuing her stellar form with six saves, were instrumental in Darien’s hard-fought 8-5 win.

Looking Back and Forward

Throughout the Battle of the Sound, Darien’s performances were a testament to their supreme talent, athleticism, and discipline.. Their ability to rally from behind and control the game’s pace showed their ability to win different styles of play.. Their Championship victory over St. Anthony’s, although hard-earned, was not the endpoint but rather a sign of the bright prospects that lie ahead for Darien High School lacrosse.

St. Anthony’s

The Battle of the Sound tournament was a stage set for top teams from across the sound to travel to Long Island in order to challenge some of the top varsity programs, and as the event unfolded, St. Anthony’s became the darkhouse punching their ticket to a Championship match-up against Darien.

Game 1: St. Anthony’s Commanding Win Over Westhampton

The afternoon  began with St. Anthony led early as they quickly took a 2-0 lead. The Friars showed a relentless offensive display throughout the game, led by sophomore midfielder Cameron Pupke who netted four goals, and sophomore attacker Madison Sussi who tallied three. By halftime, St. Anthony’s had established a commanding 8-3 lead. Between Jessica Black and Olivia Koch, the goaltending was instrumental in maintaining the lead, as they each thwarted multiple attempts by Westhampton to close the gap, culminating in a 10-6 victory for St. Anthony’s.

Semi-Final Match-up: St. Anthony’s Edges New Canaan

In their second game, St. Anthony’s encountered one of  Connecticut’s top teams in New Canaan. The match was a nail-biter, with the lead changing hands multiple times. Katherine Rathjen was the standout player for St. Anthony’s, with her exceptional five-goal performance proving to be the difference-maker in a tightly contested 10-7 win. Molly Hiney was a big factor in the ground ball department, coming up with three. Defensive resilience was key, as the Friars looked like a different team in the second half with Loralei Quinn and Analisa La Monica ensuring the team’s hard-fought lead was preserved until the end.

Championship Clash: St. Anthony’s Battles Until the End Against Darien

The Championship brought together two lacrosse powerhouses, St. Anthony’s High School and Darien, in a game that had all the makings of a high level showdown. St. Anthony’s fought valiantly, with Molly Hiney contributing two goals and winning crucial draw controls. However, Darien’s defense held firm, and St. Anthony’s succumbed to an 8-5 defeat. St. Anthony’s is scheduled to play Darien HS on April 18th, under the lights in Connecticut, which will definitely be a game the LILJ is circling on the calendar. 

Reflections and Anticipation

Throughout the Battle of the Sound tournament, St. Anthony’s showcased their indomitable spirit and undeniable talent. The team’s ability to comeback and keep games in control was thanks to their unrelenting effort and selflessness on both ends of the field.. Although their Championship loss was not how they wanted this incredible event to end, the performances of players like Cameron Pupke, Molly Hiney, and Kat Rathjen, and Madison Sussi have set the stage for what promises to be a bright future for St. Anthony’s lacrosse. All the players that loaded St. Anthony’s roster were from the 2026 and 2025 classes. As they insert their star Seniors to this deep core of sophomores and juniors, watch-out for this group!

Garden City 

Decisive Opening: Garden City vs. Suffern

The Battle of the Sound began with a formidable showdown between Garden City and Suffern. Spearheaded offensively by Arcangela Haffner, Tori Ottomanelli, and LeeLee Gaffney, Garden City secured a resounding 17-5 victory. Niamh Pfaff, between the posts, showcased her ability to save the rock with an astounding nine saves, thwarting Suffern’s advances and setting a strong defensive foundation for her team.

Semi-Final Game: Garden City vs. Darien

In their semi-final match-up, Garden City met a tough adversary in Darien. It was a gripping contest, with the lead seesawing as both teams showcased their skill. Kyle Finnell emerged as a key player for Garden City, her four goals keeping the team just a run away. Despite Garden City’s robust efforts and Niamh Pfaff’s valiant eight saves, Darien edged out to take the win with a tight score of 11-6.

Narrow Escape: Garden City vs. New Canaan

The crescendo of Garden City’s tournament journey was a thrilling match against New Canaan. It was a true display of tenacity as Garden City, with backs against the wall, fought off a New Canaan rally. Arcangela Haffner and Kyle Finnell, with two goals apiece, and Meaghan Lynch on the draws led a spirited victory. On the back of Niamh Pfaff’s seven saves, Garden City edged New Canaan with an 11-10 finish in favor of the Trojans.

Reflections and Prospects

Throughout the Battle of the Sound, Garden City shone with their relentless spirit and remarkable skills. Although the tournament’s close was tinged with the disappointment of what could have been, the fiery performances from stars like Arcangela Haffner, Niamh Pfaff, Victoria Ottomanelli, and Kyle Finnell promise a luminous horizon for Garden City’s next chapter of team development.

New Canaan

Game 1: New Canaan vs. Wantagh

New Canaan opened their tournament with a solid start against Wantagh. Penn commit Sydney Patten and sophomore Lyla DeGaetano sparked the offense with two goals each as they were able to seal a 9-7 victory. Notre Dame bound Ceci Patterson, between the posts, ensured that Wantagh would be unable to mount a comeback.

Semi-Final Game: New Canaan vs. St. Anthony’s

In a gripping encounter with St. Anthony’s, New Canaan showcased their mettle. The midfield dynamic of Emma Row, with three goals, coupled with Boston College commit Devon Russell’s hat-trick, saw New Canaan come close, but ultimately come-up short to the Friars as they were defeated by a score of 10-7.

One-goal Thriller Between New Canaan & Garden City 

The intensity peaked as New Canaan clashed with Garden City in a back-and-forth affair. Despite a valiant effort and a strong offensive showing, including a brace from Emma Row and a single from Isabella Lane, New Canaan narrowly missed victory, ending the game at a tight 10-11. Ceci Patterson in goal showed remarkable resilience with eight saves, but the team ultimately fell short by the narrowest of margins.

Reflecting on the Tournament

New Canaan’s journey through the Battle of the Sound was marked by impressive teamwork and individual brilliance. Devon Russell’s leadership on the field and Emma Row’s scoring prowess stood out as highlights. Other stand-outs for New Canaan include goalie Ceci Patterson, and Sydney Patten.. The determination and spirit shown by New Canaan throughout the Battle of the Sound have set a high bar for the team’s season ahead.


Cold Spring Harbor

The Battle of the Sound proved to be a true test of mettle for Cold Spring Harbor, highlighting their resilience and discipline across three gripping games.

Opening Clash: Cold Spring Harbor vs. Darien

Cold Spring Harbor opened up the afternoon with Connecticut’s top program in Darien High School. The Seahawks kept the game close on the back of All-Long Island attacker Kelly Callaghan striking for four goals. Despite falling short to the eventual Champion Darien High School, the Seahawks showed a number of bright spots as they look to develop some of their young talent and lean on their talented juniors, including Ryan Reynolds (Maryland Commit), Maya Soskin (Florida Commit) & Kelly Callaghan.

Cold Spring Harbor vs. Suffern

As dusk settled, Cold Spring Harbor found themselves pitted against Suffern.  The initial moments saw Suffern seize a quick 4-0 lead, but Cold Spring Harbor’s retaliation was swift and decisive to trim the deficit to 5-3 at halftime. However Suffern managed to keep Cold Spring Harbor at bay, leading to an 11-7 triumph. Despite the defeat the offensive prowess of Ryan Reynolds, and three goals from attacker Sienna Koke, complemented by Maya Soskin’s six saves, kept the Seahawks within striking distance.

Game 3 Cold Spring Harbor vs. Westhampton

The third game saw Cold Spring Harbor engage in a battle against Westhampton. The tight 8-5 margin of victory was a testament to the gritty defensive plays orchestrated by Michelle Coles and Mackenzie McGraw, who thwarted Westhampton’s assaults with poise. Kelly Callaghan & Ryan Reynolds emerged as the offensive spearhead, as Maya Soskin stood on her head with 14 saves in the game for the Seahawks. 

Retrospective and Prospects

Cold Spring Harbor’s expedition through the Battle of the Sound was a showcase of their tenacious spirit and skillful play. The team, with Kelly Callaghan and Ryan Reynolds at the helm offensively and Maya Soskin in the net, demonstrated that they are a formidable opponent on the field. While they did not clinch the ultimate prize, their journey through the tournament was marked by moments of brilliance that show why they will be among the top public school teams on the island in the 2024 spring season.

Suffern 

Game 1: Suffern vs. Garden City

In a challenging start to the tournament, Suffern battled Nassau Class B perennial power Garden City. Despite a valiant effort, Suffern fell to Garden City with a score 17-5. Michaela Fay, the speedy midfielder for Suffern, contributed two goals and 1 assist, along with two ground balls. Fay was spectacular all afternoon and evening for Suffern. Nevin Sullivan, also a midfielder, scored two goals, secured two ground balls, and won five draws, showing a strong performance in the midfield.

Game 2: Suffern vs. Cold Spring Harbor

Suffern’s second game against Cold Spring Harbor ended with an 11-7 win. Caitlin Ruggiero, a midfielder, showcased her scoring prowess with four goals, accompanied by a few tough ground balls.. Nevin Sullivan continued to be a force on draw controls, winning six and contributing five ground balls along with a goal. Jillian Terlizzi, the goalie, had another busy game with five saves and seven goals against. The defense, with players like Nicole DeBellis adding a ground ball and two caused turnovers, played a crucial role despite the loss. Fay continued to contribute and control the offense for Suffern.

Final game: Suffern vs. Wantagh

The final game for Suffern was a close encounter with Wantagh, with Suffern narrowly losing 9-8. Michaela Fay was a standout player, scoring three goals, providing two assists, and collecting three ground balls. Nevin Sullivan once again dominated the draw circle with six wins, adding one goal and a ground ball to her tally. Charlotte Ullman contributed an assist and a ground ball. Although not reflected on the scoreboard, the team’s effort was palpable, with a strong defensive performance from players like Nicole DeBellis, who added two caused turnovers.

Overall, Suffern showed resilience and toughness throughout their games, with standout performances from multiple players. The team’s  experience gained from these matches will undoubtedly serve them well in their upcoming season in the Hudson Valley region. 

Wantagh

Wantagh Falls to New Canaan in 1st Contest

In their opening game at 1:45 PM, Wantagh took on New Canaan in a tightly contested match. Despite a strong team effort, Wantagh narrowly lost the game with a final score of 9-7. Juliana Cerasi, the stand-out midfielder for Wantagh, showcased her skills with three ground balls, evidencing her midfield dominance. Sienna Diglio added two goals to the tally, while Isabella Sandoval made her presence known by scooping up two ground balls and causing two turnovers. Madeline Gonzalez, the goalkeeper, managed to save seven shots against the athletic and high-flying New Canaan group.

Game 2: Wantagh vs. Westhampton

The second game against Westhampton proved challenging, with Wantagh falling by  a score 11-7. Juliana Cerasi again led the midfield battle with two goals, two assists, and two ground balls. Kylie Coners and Mia Dankenbrink each contributed a goal and a ground ball, while Sienna Diglio continued her scoring with a goal and an assist. Brighid Smith stood out on defense with five ground balls and three caused turnovers, indicating a strong defensive play.

Game 3: Wantagh vs. Suffern

In a close encounter with Suffern at 7:00 PM, Wantagh managed to edge out a victory with a score of 9-8. This game saw Juliana Cerasi continue her impressive performance with three goals and five ground balls, also taking part in six draw controls and winning three. Isabella Sandoval found the net four times, adding an important offensive boost for the team. Riley Forthofer contributed with three assists, proving to be a key playmaker. Defensively, Paige Martin secured a ground ball and a pivotal caused a turnover.

Overall, Wantagh showed their grit and the ability to compete at a high level throughout the day. Despite the initial setback, they demonstrated improvement with each game and ended the day with a hard-fought victory. Players like Juliana Cerasi and Isabella Sandoval were particularly instrumental in Wantagh’s offensive performances, and defensively they were led by their seniors Brighid Smith and Paige Martin. 

Westhampton

Westhampton Falls to St. Anthony’s in Opening Round

Westhampton opened the tournament with a tough match against St. Anthonys, falling short with a score of 10-6. UNC bound Reese King was a standout player for Westhampton, scoring three goals, picking up one ground ball, and contributing to the draw control. Kaitlin Lanning also pitched in with two goals and two ground balls. Ava Derby added to the score with one goal.

Game 2: Westhampton vs. Wantagh

In their second game, Westhampton faced Wantagh and secured a victory with a score of 11-7. Reese King continued her impressive performance, scoring four goals, securing two ground balls, and taking four draw controls, winning two of them. Ava Derby also played a pivotal role with three goals, two assists, and two ground balls, while also participating in two draw controls and winning both. On defense it was Hailey Donahoe forcing two caused turnovers along with one ground ball, while Penn commit Maya Farnan saved seven shots with a save percentage of 50%, contributing to the team’s win.

Game 3: Westhampton vs. Cold Spring Harbor

Westhampton’s final game of the day was against Cold Spring Harbor, where they narrowly lost with a score of 8-5. Reese King once again led the charge with four goals, showcasing her scoring ability. On the defensive end, Ava Failla was notable with two ground balls and one caused turnover. Maya Farnan in the goal made eight saves with another game saving shots at a 50% rate.

Westhampton demonstrated a strong offensive punch, especially from players like Reese King and Ava Derby. Despite the mixed results, with one win and two losses, the team showed determination and the ability to compete under pressure. Goalkeeper Maya Farnan had a busy day but performed at a high-level across all three games. Westhampton’s defense also played a significant role, particularly in their victory over Wantagh. The experience and performance in these games will likely bolster the team’s confidence for the remainder of the winter and into the 2024 spring season.

Players who Impressed

Darien

Maggie Bellissimo (2024, Defense, Yale)

Summer Glenday (2025, Defense, USC)

Elizabeth Gonnella (2024, Goalie, Princeton)

Morgan Hite (2026, Attack)

Kelly Holmes (2025, Attack, Yale)

Quinn Kennedy (2025, Defense, Richmond)

Kat Reynolds (2024, Attack, Bucknell)

Sadie Stafford (2024, Midfield, Duke)

Anna Von Kennel (2026, Midfield)

Katherine Walsh (2025, Midfield,)

St. Anthony’s

Molly Hiney (2025, Midfield, Johns Hopkins)

Analisa Lamonica (2025, Defense, Navy)

Olivia Koch (2025, Goalie)

Julia May O’Connor (2025, Defense, Syracuse)

Cameron Pupke (2026, Midfield)

Loralei Quinn (2025, Defense)

Katherine Rathjen (2025, Attack, Fairfield)

Madison Sussi (2026, Attack)

New Canaan

Lyla DeGaetano (2026, Midfield)

Sydney Patten (2025, Midfield, Penn)

Ceci Patterson (2025, Goalie, Notre Dame)

Reagan Quinn (2024, Defense, Richmond)

Emma Row (2025, Midfield, Columbia)

Devon Russell (2024, Midfield Boston College)

Garden City 

Kyle Finnell (2025, Attack, Northwestern)

LeeLee Gaffney (2026, Midfield)

Arcangela Haffner (2025, Attack, Holy Cross)

Meaghan Lynch (2025, Midfield, Cal)

Tori Ottomanelli (2025, Midfield, Harvard)

Mabel Overbeck (2024, Defense, Duke)

Niam Pfaff (2024, Goalie, Yale)

Averie Smith (2026, Attack)

Suffern

Nicole DeBellis (2026, Defense)

Michaela Fay (2026, Midfield) 

Molly Mitchell (2025, Attack)

Caitlin Ruggiero (2024, Attack, Stonehill)

Nevin Sullivan (2026, Midfield)

Westhampton

Ava Derby (2026, Midfield)

Hailey Donahoe (2025, Defense)

Maya Farnan (2025, Goalie, Penn)

Reese King (2025, Midfield, UNC)

Cold Spring Harbor

Kelly Callaghan (2025, Attack)

Ryan Reynolds (2025, Midfield, Maryland)

Maya Soskin (2025, Goalie, Florida)

Wantagh

Juliana Cerasi (2025, Midfield, JMU)

Sienna Diglio (2024, Midfield, UMass)

Paige Martin (2024, Defense, Scranton)

Isabella Sandoval (2025, Attack, Binghamton)

Brighid Smith (2024, Defense, Wagner)

 

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