Thanks largely to the superb goaltending of Caeleigh Schuster, who has come up big for her teammates all season long, the East Hampton High School field hockey team defeated East Islip in a first-round playoff game here Monday. The hard-fought contest that wasn’t decided until the second round of shootouts that followed a 1-1 tie in regulation and two scoreless 7-on-7 overtime periods.
Asked afterward if she lived for moments like this, the tall, beaming freshman, who, as she knelt with her arms raised, was mobbed by her teammates afterward, said, “Yeah.”
As a result of Monday’s win, Samantha James’s charges were to have played a second-round game Wednesday with the winner of Monday’s matchup between second-seeded Harborfields and seventh-seeded Shoreham-Wading River.
Emma McGrory, Bonac’s fleet right wing, put East Hampton on the scoreboard with a lifted corner-play goal near the end of the second quarter, a goal that was to hold up until, with about eight minutes to play in regulation, Sarah Smalley, the visitors’ chief threat, left several defenders in her wake on a 50-yard zig-zag jaunt that wound up with her backhanding an acutely-angled shot that eluded Schuster into the right corner of the cage.
Smalley sustained a cut over her left eye in the ensuing celebration, “the third time that’s happened,” according to one of her teammates, who was asked how it had come about. Nick Jarboe, East Hampton’s trainer, patched Smalley up, and, soon after, she was back in the fray.
With one minute left in regulation, East Hampton’s Melina Sarlo was sent to the sin bin by one of the referees for an alleged defensive infraction that had Bonac fans scratching their heads. Thus East Hampton was outnumbered 6-to-5 for a minute in the first 7-on-7 overtime period, but in Sarlo’s absence there was no harm done.
Schuster foiled a one-on-one breakaway with two-and-a-half minutes left, coming out to make the save. And, in the second 7-on-7 period, she parried Smalley twice, first with a sliding save in the opening minutes, and then, midway through the period, in alertly kicking away a lifted shot of Smalley’s that was headed for the left corner of the cage.
The first shootout round wound up at 1-1 – Chloe Coleman, East Hampton’s third to go, scoring on her second attempt at putting one by the visitors’ agile goalie, Cassie Dodenhoff, during their 10-second duel, and with East Islip’s fifth, and last to go, Alyssa Benvengo, beating Schuster to the right side.
Sarlo, the first of East Hampton’s five shooters, and McGrory, the second one, each of whom had been foiled by Dodenhoff in the first round, made good on their second tries, and Schuster, who gave up a goal to Smalley, shut out East Islip’s next four shooters to seal the win.