Dylan Reilly didn’t have to be a soothsayer to expect to see a lot of shots headed her way in the Suffolk County Class C field hockey final Monday evening.
The Greenport/Southold goalie has been through this before, on the receiving end of a barrage of shots from a Pierson/Bridgehampton team with a voracious appetite for goals. Back on Sept. 4, Reilly made a career-high 31 saves in a 4-0 loss to Pierson.
On Monday, the result was the same, a 4-0 Pierson win at Centereach High School. The final score would have been even more one-sided if not for Reilly, who was at times spectacular, stopping 24 shots. Three weeks after undergoing surgery on her leg, Reilly was blocking shots with her pads, kicking the ball away, sprawling to the ground, doing whatever she could to keep the ball out of her cage.
“Amazing,” marveled senior captain Gabriella Zaffino, who played center back and sweeper. “The dedication that Dylan has to this team and her position is just amazing. It doesn’t matter how bad the situation gets or if she’s fine herself, she’ll work her absolute hardest to stop the ball even if that means putting her body in front of it or diving for it. She stops the play every time, and this team would be nothing without her. She’s the most fearless goalie I’ve ever seen play.”
Now, here’s the really remarkable thing: Reilly is a sophomore in her first season as a goalie. She played as a center midfielder in middle school. After tearing the ACL in her left knee in January, she sat out this past spring season. But Greenport needed a goalie this season after losing four-year varsity goalie Ella Mazzaferro to graduation.
First-year coach Alexis Reed approached Reilly with the idea of making a position switch.
“I knew after we lost Ella Mazz, she went to college, I knew that it was a tough spot to fill, and it couldn’t just be anyone,” said Reed, a former Greenport goalie herself. “I needed someone who would do anything to make sure that ball wouldn’t go in the net and that’s what Dylan does. She makes sure that no matter what, even when her knee was hurting after her ACL and she had scar tissue, she still was playing. So, it’s just phenomenal how, in such a short time, she’s grown so much and she honestly goes to every single ball with an attitude of like, ‘I’m going to stop this no matter what.’ ”
Reilly missed three weeks of this season to have a lesion removed from her leg. She said she’s fully healed and it showed in her play.
Reed said, “She’s just such a tough cookie.”
But Pierson (6-9) is a tough team. Madison Stuckart slammed in two goals and Meredith Spolarich contributed a goal and two assists as Pierson secured its seventh straight county championship. Caroline Canavan also scored for the Whalers, who also received assists from Mia Gangemi and Tahnie Sullivan.
Pierson will face either Carle Place or Cold Spring Harbor in the Long Island final Sunday in Centereach.
Monday’s game was sheer Pierson dominance. The Whalers launched 30 shots to only one by Greenport (3-12). In terms of penalty corners, it was all Pierson, 16-0.
“They’re definitely a tough team,” Greenport senior captain and forward Hayley Skrezec said. “They’re a tough competitor. They work us like no other.”
For Greenport, just playing in a county final was big. “I think this was definitely a monumental moment for Greenport,” said Skrezec.
The Porters had five seniors, including midfielders Anabelle Odell and Hannah Taggart and defender Melissa Grzegorczyk.
“I played with a lot of good teams,” Reed said, “but this team, they’re so special because they work together and they work so hard, like anything that I’ve ever asked of them this season, they’ve stepped up to the plate and done it without any whining or complaining, so they’re so special to me.”
And that includes one special goalie with plenty of upside.
Reilly was one busy player Monday but, then again, seeing lots of action was one of the things that attracted her to the goalkeeping position in the first place.
“I get a lot of action in it,” she said. “It’s very, very stressful at moments, but it’s all worth it in the end.”