09/27/13 2:30pm
09/27/2013 2:30 PM

TORNADOES 3, Clippers 0

The Greenport/Southold field hockey team arrived four minutes after the scheduled start for its Thursday afternoon match at Harborfields Thursday due to traffic, but that wasn’t necessarily the end of the world.

The Clippers dropped a 3-0 decision to the Tornadoes, but that wasn’t necessarily the end of the world.

And the North Fork team lost for the third consecutive time after starting the season with two victories, but that wasn’t necessarily the end of the world, either.

Yes, the defeat hurt, but Greenport has a new spirit and outlook this season. The Clippers finished 2012 with one win. They already have doubled that total with 2-3 record in Division III.

“It certainly helped with the momentum and the spirit that we have,” said goalie Brandi Gonzalez, who was outstanding with 20 saves against Harborfields.

“It’s important. It definitely boosts our spirits,” coach Rebecca Lillis said. “We won our opening game against Port Jefferson in overtime. It sets their mindset for the season, knowing that we are capable of winning, even though we are a young team. Today’s game shows the improvements that we made. Whether we win or lose, we’re always gaining something from it.”

On Thursday, the hosts gained a win as Nicole Bifulco, Taylor Miltner and Caroline Saros led the Tornadoes (4-2, 4-2) with one goal apiece. Goalie Chandler Banks did not make a save.

Gonzalez, a senior who wore an unusual number 199 because of a uniform manufacturer’s mistake, stood out beyond what was on her back. She played an outstanding game, denying Harborfields several goals.

“I was pretty impressed our defense kept it down to 3-0, highly impressed with Brandi Gonzalez,” Lillis said. “Her skill has grown over the years. I think today was one of those games has shown, diving for the ball and having stick saves. In years past, it could have been a little bit worse. But I think Brandi was the player of the game.”

Lillis wasn’t the only person who noticed. Several times during the game, Harborfields coach Lauren Thomas shouted out to Gonzalez after denying her team a goal, “Nice save goalie.”

“Their goalie was phenomenal,” Thomas said afterward.

Greenport had put the ball into the Harborfields net with 16:24 left in the first half, but the apparent goal was disallowed because it was taken outside the 20-foot circle.

“It was very smart of my goalie to let the ball go in because she knew that no one on the other team had touched it,” Thomas said. “So by letting it go in, we get the ball back. The communication there was smart.”

Some 41 seconds later, Bifulco scored off a Chelsea Abreu feed to give the hosts a 1-0 lead.

“It actually helped us a lot to be able to recover from that and get back onto our goal,” Abreu said.

Chelsea Skipper set up Miltner with 11:55 remaining in the half and Erin Malico, off a Caroline Saros pass, closed out the scoring with 8:06 to go in the match.

Abreu stood out for another reason — her ability to dribble and balance the ball on her stick, known as aerial dribbling — while running through the defense.

“It’s a cool skill to be able to use on the field,” Abreu said. “It helps me to dodge people. It’s something that we like to do to confuse the other teams because not a lot of other teams utilize that skill.”

The Clippers arrived at the field at 4:34 p.m, four minutes after the scheduled start. They had left Greenport at 2:55 p.m., but traffic had other plans in mind.

“It’s a lot of traffic,” Lillis said. “We’re far away. It’s a long ride. You’ve got a long trip here. that’s the one thing I don’t like about it. You have kind of a forced, quick warm-up on their field. That’s one thing I’m not too fond when we have to play the distance. It is what it is.”

Thomas had no problems postponing the start and asked Lillis about some advice about getting to Greenport. The Tornadoes play there Oct. 23.

It might have been a long trip back home, but Lillis was optimistic about the future.

“I’m happy with the team,” she said. “We have a lot of build on. We have a lot to work on. We still have half of our season left. I expect good things from the girls.”

09/13/12 7:43pm
09/13/2012 7:43 PM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Greenport/Southold/Shelter Island players lined up to hear a pregame message from one of the game officials.

COLONIALS 0, CLIPPERS 0 (COLONIALS WON IN PENALTY STROKES, 2-1)

Despite dominating possession and field position, the goal that the William Floyd field hockey team was looking for continued to evade the Colonials. If shots didn’t go wide of the mark or weren’t blocked by the maze of bodies and sticks clogging the way in front of the Greenport/Southold/Shelter Island goal, they were saved by goalkeeper Brandi Gonzalez.

It went this way through 60 minutes of regulation time, and then another 10 minutes of overtime in which, by rule, the game was reduced to a seven-on-seven contest.

Finally, William Floyd found a way to put the ball in the cage, but not until the Suffolk County Division III game had gone to penalty strokes.

Greenport/Southold/Shelter Island’s plucky defense held off William Floyd for 70 scoreless minutes on Thursday before ultimately falling in penalty strokes in Mastic Beach. Christina Zurica, a senior defender, pushed her attempt to the low right side for the tie-breaking goal in William Floyd’s 2-1 triumph in penalty strokes.

“A rush came in to me,” Zurica said. “I wanted to dance, but I had to keep my composure and just walk away. I was very excited. Very excited.”

Zurica’s goal came in the fourth round of penalty strokes. The next two shooters, Madison Tabor of Greenport/Southold/Shelter Island and Caitlyn Palladino of William Floyd, saw their shots saved. Then, Greenport/Southold/Shelter Island’s captain, Sarah Tuthill, sent her shot wide to the right, ending it. The Colonials rejoiced.

The result was good tonic for William Floyd (1-3, 1-1 in Division III), which went winless and didn’t even score a goal two years ago before registering only two wins last season.

“They really needed this as a confidence-booster, knowing that they can win games,” said William Floyd coach Paula Malguarnera.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | William Floyd’s Theresa Ardolino, left, and Greenport/Southold/Shelter Island’s Victoria Hilton crossing paths and sticks.

It was Greenport/Southold/Shelter Island (0-2, 0-2) that struck first in penalty strokes, with Wendy Peterson flipping in her shot to the left of goalkeeper Kerri Brownell for a 1-0 lead. But Theresa Ardolino evened things up for William Floyd on the next attempt.

Brownell, who did not need to make a save during regulation time or overtime, stopped two shots during penalty strokes, as did her counterpart, Gonzalez. Gonzalez sticked aside the first penalty stroke by Jaye Kudreyko, and later made an almost casual kick save on Palladino’s attempt in the fifth round.

The Clippers didn’t pick up their first win for their new coach, Rebecca Lillis, but just reaching penalty strokes might have felt like a victory of sorts. William Floyd put the visiting defense under intense pressure. Greenport/Southold/Shelter Island pushed the ball across the midfield line only a handful of times, and earned only one short corner to 18 for the Colonials.

“I was really nervous, but I knew my defense had my back, so it was all good,” said Gonzalez.

Gonzalez, who recorded six saves through regulation time and overtime, made one sparkling stop, but she also had some help from her friends. The defense was anchored by fullbacks Mairi Creedon and Daniele Freeman, with Tuthill playing defensively as a center midfielder.

The Clippers had only two substitutes available, which meant there was little rest for the weary.

“Seventy minutes, limited subs, a very young team,” Lillis said. “I’m very proud of them all.” She added: “They worked really hard today. They hung in there.”

One of William Floyd’s best scoring chances came early in the game when Courtney Murphy drove the ball dangerously across the face of the goalmouth without it being met by a William Floyd stick.

As time ticked off in the goalless game, the tension mounted.

“It gets frustrating,” said Zurica, one of William Floyd’s 12 seniors. “You just got to keep your head up, get a goal in. If we just had better passes, we wouldn’t need to have gone into [penalty strokes], but it’s fine with me.”

Gonzalez has some big shoes to fill, taking over the position that Alexis Reed played before moving on to play goal for Wilkes University (Penn.). But Gonzalez, who filled in for a couple of games last year while Reed was injured, seems at ease with the position and the situation. “I feel no pressure to follow after her,” Gonzalez said. “I’m just going to do my best.”

Building up from the defense first is Lillis’ plan. “We’re starting from scratch, and this is what we’re doing,” she said. “We’re going to build around Brandi. We have a very good goalkeeper.”

The Clippers are still awaiting their first goal of the season. They were shut out by Pierson/Bridgehampton, 6-0, in their season-opening game earlier in the week.

“We couldn’t get that final piece in, but we’re going to work on it,” Lillis said. “We have to connect our defense to our front line. Our front line is there, ready to score.”

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