By Fred Stabbert III
LAKE HUNTINGTON At first glance, it looked like the Sullivan West Bulldogs could start celebrating their Homecoming win by halftime.
But a scrappy Monticello Panther squad kept chipping away and it took some tough play in the final minutes of the game for Sullivan West to pull out a 4-3 league victory on Friday night under the lights.
“The Battle of Route 17B” started with Sullivan West taking control of the game from the start, scoring a goal just two minutes into the game.
The Bulldogs added another goal at the six-minute mark and another at 20:36 of the first half to take a commanding 3-0 lead.
But Monticello was able to break the ice with just 21 seconds left in the first half as Kerissa Bennett snuck a shot past Sullivan West goalie Heather Puerschner.
The Panthers, which dropped to 2-8-1, seemed to use that momentum in the second half to score twice to knot the score at 3-3.
“Monticello always has a good program,” a relieved Sullivan West coach Mike Ellmauer said after the game. “We always have a barn burner with them with a lot of running.”
Sullivan West was able to set up its new corner kick offense to net a goal with just 4:41 left in the game to pull out a 4-3 win.
“We have four different plays off the corner kick,” Ellmauer said. “We played with a lot of emotion, which is good, but then they played with a lot of emotion.”
Monticello Coach Bill Stento agreed, “It was a game of cycles. We did everything we could.
“It was a physical game and our first night game,” Stento said. “The girls really got pumped up. They played well tonight, it was a team effort.”
Sullivan West, which is now 6-2-2, was led by Katrina Graby with two goals and Shelby Grishaber and Hannah Feinman with a goal apiece.
Sarah Shirdon and Angela DiSanto each had an assist.
For Monticello, Annie Purcell, Kerissa Bennett and Anastasia Bowden each had a goal.
But it may have been the play of the goalies which made this game so competitive.
Sullivan West’s Puerschner, who is a junior, posted eight saves, two of which were diving grabs late in the game which kept Monticello from taking the lead.
Monticello’s Jess Stant, who is also a junior, posted 14 saves on the night, several of which were acrobatic leaps at corner kick balls which she was able to deflect before any Sullivan West player could head them.