After the miracle comeback, anything seemed possible.
The Manhasset girls lacrosse team cruised through the 2022 season en route to a state title, hitting very few bumps in the road. A senior-stacked team with fabulous offense and tight defense rolled to a championship.
But the Indians’ 2023 season had more potholes than the Van Wyck Expressway after a winter snowstorm. Manhasset struggled with injuries and inconsistency and entered the playoffs with six losses, a very unusual amount even given the strong schedule the Indians play.
All that adversity, though, can make a team even tougher, and that’s what happened with Manhasset.
Down by 12-9 in the final 10 minutes, to a very strong and top-seeded North Shore team in the Class C county final on June 1, it looked like Manhasset’s title defense would come to an end.
And then the miracle happened.
“I’m a little shocked at how we pulled it out, not that we did it,” coach Meghan Clarke said with a smile.
The Indians scored three goals in the final 5:48 to force overtime, and then got a Holly Newman game-winner in sudden death OT to shock the Vikings, 13-12.
It was improbable but not unbelievable, and it looked like it may set Manhasset (9-7) off onto a second straight title run.
But Sunday night, back at Adelphi University for the Long Island championship game, Manhasset’s dreams of a repeat were squelched. Bayport-Blue Point (18-0), the Suffolk champ who was facing Manhasset in the Class C LIC for the third consecutive season, rallied from an early deficit and snatched a 9-6 win to advance to the state semifinals.
The Indians were right there midway through the second half, but a key sequence doomed them, and the season ended.
“We had a few too many unforced turnovers that gave them opportunities to put the ball in the back of the net, especially in the second half,” Clarke said. “But our team fought. No one thought when we were 6-7 that we could come back and be here. But our kids never stopped fighting and I’m so proud of them, and the heart they showed.”
Against Bayport-Blue Point, Manhasset controlled play early, leading 2-0 and holding the Phantoms without a goal until 6:27 remained in the half.
The Indians’ strong defense, led by Alexandra Maliagros, Maddie Chun and others, kept Bayport in check, and despite a last 10 seconds goal by B-BP, the game was tied at 3 at intermission.
But one key sequence 10 minutes into the second half seemed to turn the tide. Trailing 5-4, Manhasset’s Katelyn Greeley was fouled while going in for a shot, and she was given a free position chance at 8-meters.
But the Phantoms’ outstanding goalie, Felicia Giglio, made a huge stick save, and moments later Bayport-Blue Point’s Ava Meyn scored to put her team up 6-4, and Manhasset was never able to get closer the rest of the way. The Phantoms’ D shut down Duke-bound Manhasset star Caitlin Barrett, holding her without a goal, but Mia LoPinto scored two for the Indians.
“We were battling against ourselves a lot; not taking anything away from Bayport-Blue Point, they are a fantastic team,” Clarke added.
But when the tears subside, instead of dwelling on the loss, Manhasset’s players are likely to take solace and joy in the incredible win in the county final.
North Shore (16-3), coached by Jaclyn Stevens, had a phenomenal season, led by Boston College-bound senior attack Kylee Colbert, who put on a show worth the price of admission on June 1.
Scoring from every which way and looking like the Caitlin Clark of lacrosse, Colbert poured in 101 goals (101!) this season, and against Manhasset she was unstoppable, scoring seven goals.
“That’s the best game she’s played all year, by far,” Stevens said. “She took control of the ball and directed things on offense like I’ve never seen her do before.”
But after Colbert tallied five goals in the first half, and the Vikings led 9-6 at intermission, Manhasset’s defense tightened on her.
“We knew we had to send more and more defenders to her, on the back side and everywhere,” Newman said. “We were sliding and communicating much better. She’s an amazing player.”
Still, North Shore appeared in full control late in the game, taking a 12-9 lead on Colbert’s final tally with 8:30 left.
All the Vikings had to do was win a few draws, and run around in the offensive end, and they’d be going to the Long Island title game.
But Manhasset roared back. Shea Panzik scored with 5:48 left. Then after a North Shore turnover, Newman raced down the middle of the field on a transition break and ripped a low shot into the net, and suddenly it was 12-11 with 2:46 left. The previously-loud Vikings fans grew quiet, while the orange and blue Manhasset boosters amped up the noise.
Then, with the Vikings trying to run out the clock, Manhasset’s Chun forced a turnover with 33 seconds left. The Indians had one last chance, and everyone in the stadium knew that Barrett, a multi-sport star at the school, was going to get the ball.
The midfielder split two North Shore defenders and was crunched as she looked about to score, drawing a foul and getting a free position shot with nine seconds left.
Incredibly, Barrett was in almost this exact same position in March: Her Manhasset girls basketball team was down by a point when she was fouled in the final seconds of the Long Island championship game with Shoreham-Wading River. Barrett made one of two free throws to send the game into OT, and Manhasset won.
Now, she had one shot to tie the game and send Manhasset again into overtime.
“I absolutely had flashbacks to basketball because it was almost the exact same thing!,” Barrett said afterward. “And because I’d been in that spot before I knew I could come through again.”
And of course, Barrett did, beating North Shore goalie Alexandra Mele to tie the game at 12.
“We were so close we could taste it,” Stevens said. “Just a heartbreaking, heartbreaking situation. (Before OT) our kids were a little shell-shocked, so we tried to remind them we’d been in this situation before.”
In the extra session, Manhasset pounced. With so much defensive attention focused on Barrett, it was a junior, Newman, who didn’t score much in 2022 but had a bigger role this spring, who stepped up. She took a pass from 15 yards out and split two defenders before firing a high left corner shot into the cage, setting off a wild celebration on the field.
As her teammates chanted “Hol-ly New-man!” at her, Newman explained the play.
“We were trying to get CB (Barrett) the ball but I had the lane and just drove down the middle,” Newman said. “I dropped my hands low to make it look like I was going to shoot it low and then fired it high.
“And then everyone started screaming and jumped on me.”
Even with the loss to Bayport-Blue Point, Manhasset’s future looks bright. It loses Barrett, star University of Virginia defender Alex Schneider (out injured for most of the season) and other 12th graders, but has plenty of talent back.
“You bet we’re going to be back in this game next year,” Clarke said. “This senior class was something special and I’d do anything to coach them just one more time.
“But we’ll be back soon enough.”