Wantagh’s All-County senior midfielder Brenna Connolly was held to a single goal in a quarterfinal playoff game against visiting Plainedge on May 15, but that one tally came when it mattered most.
The University of Florida-bound Connolly raced behind the net against a double team and fired a shot that clammed off the post and in with 12 seconds left to break a 7-7 tie. The dramatic 8-7 win sends third-seeded Wantagh (11-4) into to the Nassau County Class B semifinals against Garden City. It is the 10th straight season that Wantagh has reached at least the semifinal stage.
“I was behind the cage and went for it and lucky to get it,” said Connolly, who has played on varsity since eighth grade.
Connolly was one of many key contributors in the quarterfinal win, which followed a 14-4 first round victory against Jericho on May 12. Goalie Grace Beshlian registered seven saves including a key stop with a minute remaining to keep the game tied. Plainedge’s Alexandra DiChiara had tied the game at 7-7 on a goal with 4:26 remaining.
“She has been lights out really anchoring our defense,” Wantagh coach Jaclyn Coyne said of her goaltender. “She has been really big for us.”
The Lady Warriors were led in scoring against Plainedge by sophomore Nikki Sliwak (three goals) and Kaitlyn Cerasi (two goals and two assists). Madison Conway and Stefanie Wenz also tallied scores for Wantagh.
“The past four years they have rally stepped up as a unit,” said Coyne of her many offensive weapons. “Everyone has been doing a great job.”
The victory against Plainedge sends Wantagh to the semifinal round against longtime nemesis Garden City. The Lady Warriors last defeated Garden City in 2002 and have fallen to the Trojans in the county finals seven times since 2005. In the teams’ regular season meeting on April 3, Garden City’s Tara DeAngelo scored the winning goal with 3.6 seconds left in an 8-7 win.
“They are a great program and you have to respect them but going into it we are really confident,” Coyne said. “It’s going to be a battle.”
Wantagh’s semifinal game against Garden City is scheduled for Wednesday at 4 p.m. at Adelphi University after press time. If the Lady Warriors win they will face the winner of the other semifinal between Manhasset and North Shore on May 28 at Adelphi.
Wantagh is seeking its first girls’ lacrosse county title since the program was founded in 1997.
Connolly, who started two years ago when Garden City edged Wantagh 17-15 in the county finals, said playing toe-to-toe with the Trojans early in the season gives them confidence for the rematch. Last season, Wantagh missed out on a chance to face Garden City in the county finals for an eighth time in nine years when Manhasset rallied from a 7-2 deficit for an 11-10 semifinal win.
“We know we can take them,” Connolly said of Garden City. “I think we want it this year more than ever.”