Matt Maloney, who coaches East Hampton High’s girls lacrosse team, the first one in the program’s 12-year history here to make it to the playoffs, asked before the first-round game at Eastport-South Manor began Saturday morning that his charges be patient on offense and that they not spot the Sharks four or five goals in the early going.
The ominous music from the movie “Jaws” was playing as the teams took the field, though Kathy McGeehan, Maloney’s soon-to-retire assistant, reminded the girls that the great white shark swallowed a depth charge in the end.
East Hampton won the draw — one of the relatively few it was to win that day — and worked the ball around patiently before a dropped pass resulted in a turnover.
The Sharks, the second seed in the Class B bracket of the Division II tournament — East Hampton was the seventh — quickly brought the ball down and were awarded a free position shot after Anjelica Fuccillo, a midfielder, was fouled by a Bonac defender.
Fuccillo’s shot, however, was blocked by Nicole Miksinski, one of East Hampton’s 11 seniors, most of whom are defenders. Allison Charde’s high clearing pass for Katla Thorsen resulted in another possession for the home team, whose Dene’ DiMartino fired a shot off the post. Though moments later, Eastport-South Manor broke the ice as the result of a free position shot by Allison Gionta.
The goals — one was shoveled into an empty net following a foiled clearing play — began to come in quick succession then. Before the midway point in the first 25-minute quarter, what Maloney had warned about had become fact as ESM sat atop a comfortable 7-0 lead and the “Jaws” theme could be heard again.
A free position shot by Bronte Marino finally got East Hampton on the board, and, following another deflection by Miksinski, a save by Charde, and an interception by Cassidy Walsh, Carley Seekamp, with about seven minutes left until the break, beat a defender, faked high, and slipped East Hampton’s second goal under the Sharks’ much-touted freshman goalie, Sam Giacolone, for 7-2.
Lest the Bonackers get any ideas, though, DiMartino, who was to control a number of the draws for the home team that morning, notched her second score of the half, cutting in on Charde from the left. A notched free position shot by Amanda Seekamp made it 8-3 with about four minutes to go, but again Eastport-South Manor replied as Kristen Anderson, the tallest player on the field at 6 feet 2 inches, converted a feed from DiMartino.
A half-minute shy of the break, Maggie Carine laid the ball into an empty cage after Charde had made a save but hadn’t been able to get the ball out to her teammates.
It was Eastport 10, East Hampton 3 at the half. The home team had outshot the visitors 16-4. Gionta had made 4-of-5 attempts, Katie Meinecke 3-of-3, and Anderson 1-of-2.
Cheyenne Mata, a senior as is Charde, started in the cage for the Bonackers in the second half, sandwiching two saves around a goal by DiMartino in the early going.
Giacolone was kept rather busy also in the second half, coming up with big saves on close-in shots by Dana Cebulski, Amanda Seekamp, and Marino. Maggie Pizzo, East Hampton’s formidable sophomore midfielder, beat Giacolone twice in the final frame, after cutting around a double-team with 12:44 remaining, and converting a free position shot with 9:09 to go that pulled East Hampton to 14-6. She came close to scoring off another free position shot in the final minutes, as well, but her bid zipped over the crossbar. So did one taken near the end of the game by Hailey Tracey.
Charde was reinserted in the goal with nine minutes to play, and during a timeout two minutes later, Maloney told his players to loosen up and have some fun as the game wound down. Eastport-South Manor had the ball with a chance to score in the last seconds, but played catch instead, satisfied with the 15-6 win.
“Unfortunately, they were too much for us,” Maloney said afterward. “We tried everything we could on the draws [Carley Seekamp, Amanda Seekamp, Walsh, and Gabriella Penati all gave it a try], but if you can’t win the majority of them, you probably won’t win the game. . . . Giacolone is a very good goalie and their defense is strong and fast. They don’t let you get anything easy.”
“I told the girls after the game that I was proud of their efforts in the game and throughout the season. I also said that the next season begins this summer, not next February or March. We want more next year than just being in the playoffs.”
The 11 seniors are Charde, Mata, Thorsen, Miksinski, Linsey Kromer, Maricela Rivera-Rosas, Emma Gambino, Sarah Johnson, Nicole Frank, Mariah Dempsey, and Megan Dombkowski, who, as the result of a concussion sustained in a game with Eastport on May 2, did not play Saturday.
Madison Aldrich, a backup goalie, and five other players — Rachel Hardy, Ashley Rojas, Jen Inanagua, Maddie Wicker, and Juliana Sanabria — were brought up from the junior varsity for the varsity’s final week, and, according to McGeehan, “improved greatly.”
Maloney added that, besides his 11 seniors — most of whom, as aforesaid, are defenders — he will miss McGeehan, who is about to wind up a 32-year teaching career. “She has done so much for the girls, the program, and has made me a better coach the past few years. She was a co-coach in my eyes, not an assistant.”
For her part, McGeehan, who will remain on as East Hampton’s varsity girls volleyball coach, said, “He’s brought these kids so far in these past few years. He works so hard in the off-season; he’s passionate about the game. . . . He should win coach of the year. If he doesn’t win it this year, he will.”