A Freeport girls’ lacrosse season filled with tough losses ended on a high note in with a dramatic win that head coach Anabel Lopez hopes can serve as fuel for a brighter future.
The Red Devils (3-8) rallied from a six-goal second half deficit for a 13-12 win at Roslyn on May 4 to snap a six-game losing streak and provide a reward for a dedicated group that lacked the traditional lacrosse upbringings other teams enjoy. Freeport’s Ariel Rengiso tied the game at 12-12 with less than five minutes remaining and Nia Merritt registered the winning goal with just 24 seconds remaining to give the program its third victory a season removed from a winless 2017 campaign.
“We ended on an amazing note,” said Lopez, a first-year head coach who played at Freeport from 2004 to 2008. “They played with intensity and with so much heart.”
Merritt’s heroics capped a strong senior campaign in which she led the Freeport offense with 33 goals to earn All-Conference honors. Senior goalie Tazmeya Allen, who also made the All Conference team, recorded 16 saves in her final high school game to help Freeport spring an upset of the fourth place team in league IV.
“The team really came together at the end of the season,” Lopez said. “They showed what they are capable of.”
Lenox Pinczehelyi tallied two goals an assist in the Roslyn game to finish up a big junior season. She tallied 28 goals and led the team with 34 groundballs.
“She definitely exceeded my expectations,” Lopez said of Pinczehelyi, who earned the team’s unsung hero award. “She really inspired us.”
Senior Hannah Carter provided inspiration for her Lady Red Devil with her commitment to both lacrosse and academics. Carter received a Nassau County scholar athlete award for recording a 93 average and finishing seventh in her class. She is headed to North Carolina State next year.
Freeport graduates 10 seniors, but returns some key talent in Pinczehelyi along with sophomore attacker Kelcey Woodward, who started the last three games. Woodward registered six goals including one in the big season-ending win against Roslyn,
Lopez along with assistant coach and fellow Freeport alumnus Michelle Rendon are committed to bring Freeport girls lacrosse back to a high level. The coaches turned have turned to their former head coach Dianna Wahlers for advice on how to steer the ship in the right direction.
“She has been a great mentor,” said Lopez of Wahlers. “She has guided me.”
Lopez is excited about the re-launch of a youth program that was instrumental for Freeport’s rise as program after its 1985 founding to a county title in 1992. She said most her current players didn’t pick up a stick until eighth grade and are committing to forging a brighter girls lacrosse future in Freeport by holding clinics for the younger players.
“We have started a dialogue,” Lopez said her goal to connect the high school team toward the Freeport youth. “With enough commitment we can build this program back up to what it was.”