The first week of playoff games in the girls high school winter league was nothing short of spectacular. The teams in the Purpose bracket played their games back on Thursday, January 6th, and the teams in the Dragonfly bracket played their games on Sunday. Out of the eight games played, six of them were decided by four goals or less, three of them were decided by one goal, and two went into overtime. So many stars stepped up for their teams when they needed them most, setting up these amazing finishes. Here’s a breakdown of how each first round playoff game was decided!
Mt. Sinai vs. YJ Wiener
The playoffs got started with a tremendous battle between Mt. Sinai and YJ Wiener. Mt. Sinai has won most of their games pretty handily this season, but this was definitely their toughest test. The first six minutes of the game saw Mt. Sinai jump out to a 3-1 lead, with goals from Kayli Carannante, Alexa Spallina, and Taylor Cline. YJ Weiner responded, outscoring the Mustangs 4-2 the rest of the half to go into halftime tied at five. The run was started with a great feed from Jayden Piraino to Tess Calabria for an underhanded goal. Just before the half concluded, Skylar Cohen scored the game-tying goal off of the assist from Paige Selhorn in the closing seconds.
Mt. Sinai struck first in the second half to grab the lead once again, as Taylor Cline won the opening draw and Kylie Budke picked up the ground ball and fired a stinger. After Tess Calabria tied the game at six, Emilia Retzlaff gave YJ Wiener their first lead on a free-position shot which was also the first time Mt. Sinai trailed in a game this season. Kayli Carannante answered right back Sinai with a transition goal which made this week’s GLE top 10 plays. Jayden Piraino quickly put YJ Weiner back up by one. The back-and-forth affair continued with Mt. Sinai once again tying the game as Alexa Spallina cycled through X and dished it to Carannante right in front of the cage for the goal.
The game was weighing in the balance with nine minutes remaining and both teams tied at eight. At the six minute mark Sinai regained the lead thanks to the dynamic duo of Alexa Spallina and Kayli Carannante. Spallina dished it to Carannante after she faked setting a pick and slipped to the cage. YJ Weiner needed an answer, but the team defense by Mt. Sinai and a couple big saves by Sara Flobeck proved to be huge down the stretch. The Mustangs got three more goals to close out the game and came away victorious 12-8. Spallina and Carannante were the two Epoch Players of the Game for Mt. Sinai.
Wantagh vs. St. Anthony’s
Arguably the best game of the playoffs thus far was between the Warriors and the Friars. Both teams played extremely hard and did a great job of executing on the offensive end particularly late in the game when the game was in the balance. Riley Zusi got the Friars off to a hot start, scoring two of the first three goals to put them on top 3-0. Wantagh’s top guns Maddie Alaimo and Eva Ingrilli got the Warriors on the board and keep them in the game. The Friars however went up by three again and had a 5-2 lead midway through the first half. Ingrilli brought Wantagh back within two, faking high and going low for the goal. St. Anthony’s managed to keep the lead in the first half by two or three goals, but with the Friars up 7-4 in the final minutes of the first half, Wantagh out scored them 3-1 to close the half and go into the break down 8-7. Goalie Lexi Zenk for St. Anthony’s came out of the box to make a crucial interception to deny Wantagh a chance to tie the game before the half. This play earned a spot in this week’s GLE top 10 plays.
St. Anthony’s had to play the second half without all-star Tess Calabria who left the game due to an injury. This was without a doubt a big loss for them, but other players stepped up in her absence. Megan Kenny rolled back to her left and stung one to open up the second half and put St. Anthony’s up 9-7. Later in the half, with both teams tied at 10, Maddie Alaimo gave Wantagh their first lead of the game with a high-to-low finish with 12 minutes remaining in the game. It was short-lived as the Friars quickly answered with consecutive goals by Jenna Binkis and Riley Zusi to go back up by one. St. Anthony’s then had a 13-11 lead with under a minute remaining when Wantagh got a goal from Eva Ingrilli for her sixth of the game to bring them within one. The Warriors needed to get anther possession to tie the game and they did as Sienna Diglio picked up the ground ball on the St. Anthony’s clear. They got the ball to Maddie Alaimo who got a shot on goal that hit off the pipe, but Eva Ingrilli got the ground ball and went back to Alaimo who scored the game-tying goal at the buzzer to force overtime!
In overtime it’s a four minute period where the first team to score wins. Wantagh won the draw to begin overtime and got a great shot on goal by Maddie Alaimo but Stella Quilty made a big save to keep the game tied. The Friars got the ball back and after a whistle on Wantagh, Riley Zusi had a free-position shot which she buried to win the game for St. Anthony’s! Zusi was the Epoch Player of the Game for her game-winner which was one of five goals she scored on the night.
Comsewogue vs. Bayport 1
The defending champs from Bayport were back in action, ready to begin their title defense in the postseason. They took on a Comsewogue team that’s very tough and gritty. This game was all about defense in the early going. Through the first 10 minutes of the game both teams managed to only score one goal, but Comsewogue took their first lead of the game as Alyssa Deacy found Kamryn McCrary for the goal. The lead was only momentary for the Warriors, with Aubrie Eisfeld quickly coming back and scoring on a free-position opportunity to tie the game at two. Julia Fusco gave Bayport a 3-2 lead with just under five minutes remaining after she got the rebound off of the missed shot by Katie Clare. Skylar Fig who was the first half goalie for Bayport made a big save late in the half to deny Comsewogue the game-tying goal going into halftime. This save led to Katie Clare getting a free-position shot in the closing seconds which she buried to give Bayport a 4-2 lead at the half.
The second half action was just as physical and tenacious as the first. Neither team was getting many easy shots on goal, but Comsewogue’s Jayla Calender brought them within one on a rare transition goal. After Bayport went back up by two, Felica Giglio made an incredibly athletic save to keep the Phantoms up by two. However the Warriors continued to show their fight and rallied to score two straight goals and tie the game. Shannon Harrington found Mackenzie Beck inside to bring them within one, and Jayla Calender intercepted the clear by Bayport and scored the tying goal. The defending champs were in for a tough battle, but they seemed to have an answer every time Comsewogue looked to take control of the game. They got two straight goals by Mairead Kelly and Julia Fusco to once again go up by two.
Bayport held a two goal lead with 10 minutes to remain in the game. Comsewogue quickly once again responded with a stinger by Mackenzie Beck from Alyssa Deacy to make it a 7-6 game. The Phantoms got a big insurance goal late in the game by Aubrie Eisfeld that was set up by Julia Fusco. The two goal lead in the closing minutes proved to be just enough. Comsewogue went scoreless in the final four minutes of the game and Bayport took this one home by a score of 8-6. The Epoch Player of the Game went to Maddie Weybrecht on the defensive side who was part of a tremendous overall performance by Bayport’s team defensively.
YJ Spallina vs. Rocky Point
The final game of the night between YJ Spallina and Rocky Point saw a lot of offense from YJ Spallina. It took less than three minutes into the game for them to jump out to a 3-0 lead. They also had a tremendous ride that forced Rocky Point into having very little time on the shot clock in their offensive possessions. Rocky Point managed to stay in the game for a large portion of the first half thanks to goaltender Alexa Kuhn who had seven saves in the game. YJ extended their lead with a free-position shot by Molly Hiney to make it a 4-0 lead before Rocky Point got on the board with a goal from Lindsey Lucia. Aubrie Eisfeld gave YJ a 5-1 lead after picking up a ground ball and firing a stinger. The offense of YJ Spallina scored one more in the first half to go into the break up 6-1.
The big lead that YJ Spallina built up in the first half was enough for them to hold on in the second half. In fact they built on their five goal lead, outscoring Rocky Point 7-2 in the second half. Reese Marcario got the second half going with a goal as she circled through X and shot it low for the finish. The defense and the caused turnovers that YJ Spallina were able to force made it difficult for Rocky Point to get many shots on goal. Reese Marcario and Aubrie Eisfeld had a huge role in the offense for YJ in the second half, both scoring and facilitating. Ultimately YJ Spallina came away with a 13-3 win over Rocky Point, and Reese Marcario was the Epoch Player of the Game, finishing with three goals, and two assists.
William Floyd vs. Islip
Both of these teams have played in some close games this season, and now had the chance to play each other in their first playoff game. It was William Floyd who got off to a good start, thanks to their super sophomore Kayla Gilmore. Gilmore scored the first goal of the game for the Colonials on their second possession. The first half for William Floyd was all about winning the draws and playing great team defense. Islip was unable to get many clean offensive possessions, and on the other end it was Kayla Gilmore controlling the offense for William Floyd. The Colonials went into halftime with a 7-2 lead with Gilmore scoring four of the seven goals.
In the second half Islip came out looking like a completely different team. They had much better clears which helped them get into their offense faster and get more shots on goal. Four minutes into the half was when Islip began to chip away at the deficit. A ground ball by Reese Wallace led to Juliana Stanley scoring the lefty stinger. The Buccaneers came back with another goal which also made this week’s GLE top 10 plays as Avery Falco found Kaylie Sullivan to beat the shot clock. The third of three straight goals for Islip was scored once again. by Juliana Stanley on a free-position shot. Islip was within two and completely changed the tide of the game. Floyd was able to stop the bleeding with a huge ground ball by Payton Iavallee who ended up scoring on the sequence off the assist from Madison Widecki. Islip rallied once again, getting goals from the two Perfetto sisters, first Danielle, and then Lauren, who’s BTB goal made this week’s GLE top 10 plays. Islip had a few opportunities to come up with the tying goal, but William Floyd’s defense held up and they were able to get by Islip by a score of 8-7. Kayla Gilmore was the Epoch Player of the Game. Her final stat line was seven points, five ground balls and four draw controls out of five draws taken.
Shoreham vs. Smithtown West
The winner of this game between Shoreham and Smithtown earned the right to advance and take on Bayport 2. Both of these teams were explosive offensively, getting the ball up the field in a hurry and scoring in transition. This one even took an extra four minutes to decide who would come away victorious. It was the Wildcats from Shoreham who got off to the quick start. Natalie Wilson scored two of their first three goals. Later in the half with Shoreham up 6-3, Smithtown had an answer, scoring three straight goals which was capped off by Nikki Menella rolling to her left and scoring to even the game. Shoreham outscored Smithtown 2-1 the rest of the half to take an 8-7 lead at halftime.
In the second half the offense remained hot for both Shoreham and Smithtown. With the score tied at nine, Nikki Menella split to her left and fired a rocket which put the Bulls on top 10-9. Shoreham’s Charlotte Erb found Grace Kitchen to strike right back and even up the game at 10. Smithtown fired back with consecutive goals by Isabella Dantuono and Kate Theofield who intercepted the clear and scored on an inside roll. It looked like the Bulls were gaining momentum and pull away, but Shoreham didn’t allow that to happen. They came back with two straight of their own to once again tie the game. The game was certainly up for grabs in the final minutes. Smithtown once again went up by two, but the Wildcats reeled off three straight goals to take the lead. The go-ahead goal was scored by Natalie Wilson off of the assist from Grace Kitchen. The Bulls needed an answer as they were down by one with 30 seconds left, and Kate Theofield got her hands free and scored the game-tying goal to force overtime!
In overtime Shoreham won the opening draw but were unable to get a shot on goal. With less than two minutes remaining in overtime Smithtown West had possession and earned a free-position shot for Nikki Menella. Menella buried the shot for the Bulls to send them to the semi-finals! Nicki was the Epoch Player of the Game for scoring seven goals and the game-winner!
Smithtown West vs. Bayport 2
After a thrilling win for Smithtown, they got right back on the field to take on Bayport 2. They were in for another tough task against Bayport’s young guns. The first 10 minutes of the game were extremely competitive. Smithtown held a narrow 3-2 lead thanks to goals by Laura Luikart, Jolie Schiavo, and Madison Driscoll. With eight minutes remaining in the half, the Bulls scored two consecutive goals by Jolie Schiavo and Laura Luikart to extend to a 6-3 lead. Kayla Vasquez brought the Phantoms back within two off of the assist from Erika Kreuscher. One more goal was scored by Smithtown to take a 7-4 lead at halftime.
The Phantoms hung around in the second half and certainly had a chance to win the game. They cut the deficit to two as Erika Kreuscher flipped it to Kate Lemery who scored. Smithtown was able to counter with a goal from Megan Theofield to put them back up by three. Bayport seemed to have an answer to get within two, but they were just unable to get over the hump and get any closer. The final score was 11-9 in favor of Smithtown West who made it two consecutive wins on the day. Nikki Menella was once again the Epoch Player of the Game for the Bulls for leading her team to two wins and a spot in the finals in the Dragonfly bracket.
Ward Melville vs. West Hampton
In the final game of the day it was the Patriots battling the Hurricanes. The story in this game was the play of Ward Melville goalie Ava Carrillo. Westhampton was unable to get much on her and after falling behind the Patriots’, Carrillo denied them any chance of coming back. Through the first 12 minutes of the game it was tightly contested with Patriots holding a slight 3-2 lead, and the Patriot’s scored two straight goals by Emilia Retzlaff & Kiera Millett to head into halftime up 5-2. Westhampton was certainly not out of the game but with Carrillo in the net she makes a three goal deficit for her opponent seem insurmountable.
Ward Melville pulled away in the second half. They forced turnovers, and put a lot of pressure on Westhampton’s clears. They were also very composed on the offensive end, executing their offense and making the right plays to win the game. Some of the players who helped them pull away in the second half were Grace Mulham, Emilia Retzlaff, Grace Balocca, and Ava Simonton. Westhampton also had some unforced turnovers that played a factor, but even the opportunities that they did have were denied by Carrillo. Ward Melville went on to win by a final score of 12-5 to advance to the semi finals. Ava Carrillo took home the Epoch Player of the Game honors, finishing with 11 saves and a save percentage of 69 percent.