Playing for the first time in more than two weeks and only for the fifth time this season, Clarke brought plenty of intensity and showed little signs of rust in beating neighboring rival East Meadow, 8-7, on Diana Schmitt’s goal with 5:16 remaining in a Nassau Conference III girls’ lacrosse game on April 24.
Clarke, which trailed by two at halftime, got goals from seven different players and a strong performance in the cage by senior Karen Downes, who made 10 saves. Sophomore Jen Wahlig scored once in each half for the host Lady Rams, who improved to 2-3 overall and 2-2 in conference play. East Meadow (7-3 overall, 3-3 in conference games), which had two second-half goals disallowed because of crease violations, got a hat trick from Megan Bender and two goals from Erin Fowler.
“We’ve been rivals for a while, but we’re usually not in the same conference,” Clarke coach Rick Aragona said. “This was a big win for us. We hadn’t played in a while, but I wasn’t concerned about it because we work hard in practice and have athletes. Running up and down the field is one of our weapons.”
East Meadow coach Jamie Lago said turnovers were a key factor in a game that dealt a severe blow to the team’s playoff chances. “I think we beat ourselves today,” she said. “We had too many turnovers and didn’t play aggressive enough on defense. Up until this point we were playing OK.”
Clarke’s conditioning level began to show in the second half, Aragona said. Wahlig, Natalie Morano, Madeline Anderson, and Amanda Reyes all found the net to turn a 5-3 halftime deficit into a 7-5 lead. “We brought back a lot of young starters who are now juniors, and they’re really coming into their own,” he said.
Getting Kristina Sanicola back in the lineup for the stretch run can only help the Lady Jets, Lago said. It was the midfielder’s second game since returning from knee surgery and she scored with 15 minutes remaining to bring East Meadow within 7-6. “We missed her in the lineup,” Lago said of Sanicola, who in her first game of 2014 two days earlier had two goals and one assist in a 12-4 non-conference win over New Hyde Park.
The Lady Jets got the equalizer with 11:45 left off the stick of Bender, but Clarke’s defense of Brianna Ventola, Caitlin Russell, Lauren Keller and Megan Fitzpatrick limited scoring chances the rest of the way. Senior goalie Lindsey Hoffman finished with seven saves for East Meadow.