A few bumps in the road won’t stop these Hurricanes. In fact, they might just be picking up steam, and Giana Murphy and Hollie Schleicher are currently the eye of the storm.
The sophomore-senior duo combined for seven goals in Westhampton Beach’s 9-1 Division II opener against host Rocky Point March 20.
Over their first two wins, the Hurricanes have outscored their opponents 26-2. They won their first game without returning sophomore defender Jackie Amato, and they took the second without junior midfielder and leading scorer from last season’s 10-6 team that made it to the county finals, Belle Smith.
“I think it messed with our heads a little bit, like it would any team, but I think we came out today and gave it our all,” Schleicher said following the Rocky Point game. “On offense, we moved around positions, adjusted our plays, who was going to do what, and I think that helped with our motion, and on defense we put a lot of pressure on the ball.”
Murphy (four goals) put Westhampton on the board early when she came around the left side of the cage, juked, and scored just over a minute into the game. Schleicher (three goals) scooped up possession off the ensuing draw and sent a strike to the back of the cage. The Hurricanes lost the next draw, one of just a handful, but Olivia Rongo’s forced turnover gave her team another opportunity. It capitalized with Maureen Duffy’s (two goals) first score. The Eagles called timeout, but that didn’t stop them from getting swept up in the storm. Murphy rounded the side of the cage to score for a second time with 7:29 left in the first half.
“I feel pretty comfortable around the cage,” Murphy said. “My teammates set me up well, know when I’m going to fake.”
Schleicher followed the sophomore once more for her second goal of the game and a 5-0 Westhampton lead at the half. The pair also connected on Schleicher’s hat trick goal with 8:48 left in the game.
“All three midfielders ran a full game — usually we rotate a fourth one in when we have Belle in there, but today we didn’t have that, and they did a pretty good job of keeping the pace consistent. We took our time on offense. They controlled the pace,” head coach Mary Bregmann said. “Obviously, the focus was always on Belle, and with her being out her teammates stepped up. They wanted to do it for Belle, even if it was clearing through or keeping the ball on the outside, and we had very few turnovers today once we had control of the ball, unless it was off a shot.”
Smith, an All-County, All-American, and Team USA U19 player who is committed to Boston College, sprained her ankle after the team’s 17-1 nonleague win over Patchogue-Medford March 18.
“We wanted to show people we’re a program and not just one or two people,” Bregmann said. “I think a win like this shows that. We’re a total team.”
The defense is almost entirely brand new, minus Amato, who pulled her hamstring a few weeks ago, and senior Stony Brook University-commit Lindsay Rongo. The group didn’t let up a single quality shot, according to their coach. In her first varsity game, sophomore crease defender Molly Skorobohaty scooped up three ground balls and had two turnovers, including one at the end of the game that led to Duffy’s second goal.
“Time was running out and I just wanted to give it my all,” Skorobohaty said. “It was hard to adjust at first, but Lindsay Rongo helped me through it, talking to me throughout the game. All the girls are so encouraging and welcoming. We have really good communication. We direct cutters and I think having good communication helps us perform that much better.”
Sophomore Taylor Gallarello replaced five-year goalkeeper Eleanor Kast and came up with nine saves.
“Taylor had some awesome stops today,” Bregmann said. “Saves that could have turned the game around if they got a little bit of momentum.”
Westhampton is in a stacked division, one of the most competitive on the Island, with a game March 26 against Mt. Sinai, which won three straight state championships from 2015-17, and knocked out Westhampton in last year’s Class C county championship game. Not coincidentally, each of the Hurricanes’ top competitors in the win over Rocky Point scored in last year’s game against the Mustangs, including Smith and Lindsay Rongo. In total, Westhampton had 13 girls return from last year’s team. The Hurricanes will take on tough Kings Park, Eastport-South Manor, and Harborfields teams starting March 28.
“We definitely want to win counties, but we have to get there first,” Schleicher said. “We have a tough schedule ahead of us, good competition, so we’re just going to go into every practice ready to prepare for those next teams. But this was a good first game to have. We feel pretty good coming off this win.”