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Field Hockey: Reilly’s spectacular with 33 saves in county final defeat

“Save, Dylan Reilly!”

Those words were announced time and time again over the public-address system at Newfield High School’s Nick DeCillis Field during Saturday’s Suffolk County Class C field hockey final.

Reilly was sensational, time and time again.

Greenport/Southold’s goalkeeper was called upon to rescue the Porters, time and time again.

Despite an awe-inspiring, career-high, 33-save performance by Reilly, Greenport was beaten by top-seeded Pierson/Bridgehampton, 5-0, as Meredith Spolarich bagged a hat trick. It’s the eighth straight county championship for the Whalers. Pierson defeated Greenport in last year’s county final, 4-0. (Reilly stood out in that game, too, with 24 saves).

More than anything, though, Saturday’s game will be remembered best for Reilly’s heroics in goal. It was a performance for the ages by the junior in the pink No. 99 goalie jersey. She denied Pierson — and wowed the spectators — with kick saves, lunging saves, pad saves, sprawling saves.

Time and time again.

“She’s just incredible,” Greenport coach Alexis Reed said. “I’m just speechless, honestly. Some of them, I didn’t even have words [for]. I was just in such awe of how beautiful it was that I had like full-body goose bumps.”

Thirty-three saves is an awful lot of saves, but they don’t tell the whole story because a lot of those saves were outstanding.

“A hundred percent the best I ever played,” said Reilly, an acrobatic goalie who is not afraid to fling her body any which way.

Was there an explanation for why Reilly was in such top form?

“I don’t think I can pinpoint the reason,” she said. “I just think I just did what I had to do. It was a lot of fun. I had a great time.”

With Greenport/Southold goalkeeper Dylan Reilly (33 saves) on the turf, sweeper Melizza Mena Ochoa tries to clear the ball out of danger. (Credit: Bill Landon)

Greenport (2-13) knew what it was in for facing Pierson (8-7). Just 12 days earlier, Pierson had shut out Greenport, 5-0, in a regular-season game.

In order to qualify for the playoffs and go directly to the county final, Greenport posted a 3-2 triumph at Southampton Oct. 19 on two goals from Jada Clark and one by Mae Dominy.

Greenport was a heavy underdog in the county final. “We had nothing to lose and everything to gain,” said Reed.

The game was less than three minutes old when Reilly had already made a great kick save on Spolarich and a sprawling stop on Spolarich. In the second quarter, Pierson’s Sophia Beech was denied by a kick save, Reilly kicked out another ball from Spolarich and a long-range attempt by Spolarich was kicked aside by Reilly.

“Her head is always in the game, but I felt like it was like in a different universe,” said Greenport sweeper Melizza Mena Ochoa.

Spolarich, a talented senior midfielder who is coach Kim Spolarich’s daughter, finally got her goal on Pierson’s 14th shot of the game with 32.6 seconds left in the second quarter. It came on a nice individual piece of work, Spolarich weaving through the middle before flipping a shot that resulted in a familiar field hockey sound: Thud!

Greenport’s overworked defense of left back Sarahi Tzun Rodriguez, center back Madeline Palumbo, right back Karly Ward and Ochoa was kept busy. Pierson broke through for two third-quarter goals. Spolarich knocked in a rebound of a Reilly save and Eva McKelvey whacked in a ball that slid across the goalmouth to her. Pierson would have had a third goal in the quarter had not Greenport’s Nyah Medina saved a ball near the goal line.

In the fourth quarter, Spolarich swept in a shot for her third goal, assisted by Maddie Cohen, and Bella Eldridge capped the scoring with 2:10 to go.

“I felt good,” Reilly said. “I don’t mind having a lot of shots. It keeps my head in the game.”

Greenport did not get off a shot in the game.

Reilly’s sister, senior midfielder Maya Reilly, went down and exited the game with 13:09 left. Reed said she thinks Maya Reilly dislocated a finger.

Pierson advances to a Long Island final against the Nassau County champion Wednesday at Berner Middle School in Massapequa.

After the game, Greenport’s captains — Ava Cocheo, Clark and Rodriguez — walked to the middle of the field to receive the county runner-up plaque.

The Porters can attribute this last playing opportunity to their win over Southampton.

“It was a huge victory,” Dylan Reilly said. “It was a very close game, but we made it work and we just did what we had to do to get here. It’s an accomplishment just getting here.”

An amazing performance made it especially memorable.