Despite beating Hewlett in the first round of the Nassau C girls’ lacrosse playoffs May 18, South Side coach Rob Deviln assessed the 2023 campaign by saying it was “a successful season that had disappointments in it.” Last Monday’s performance was definitely not one of them.
The fifth-seeded Cyclones are back in the county semifinals after shocking No. 4 Seaford, 9-8, on Caitlin Haggerty’s fourth goal of the afternoon with just over five minutes remaining. The win avenged a 14-7 loss to the Vikings on May 2 and gave South Side the right to face top-seeded North Shore on Friday.
South Side lost 12-6 to those Vikings on May 8.
Just weeks earlier, it seemed like the Cyclones could be a quick out in the playoffs. After a 4-3 start, the Cyclones found themselves mired in a eight-game losing streak before salvaging the season finale 16-5 against Bethpage on May 12.
Their newfound momentum carried over into the playoffs, scoring 11 times in the first half en route to a 19-4 victory over the 12th-seeded Bulldogs. Haggerty and Avery Testa each scored five times and Annie Madden and Charlotte Rathjen added three goals apiece for South Side.
“The girls knew that they wanted to come out quickly and just leave no doubt and just take the field, do what they knew they were capable of, and then try to sustain it, which is something that has been a little bit of a weak spot for us this year,” Devlin said.
South Side had trouble closing out games in the second half at times during its slump as it held a halftime lead on three different occasions before eventually falling to its opponent. The skid started with a 12-10 home loss to Syosset on April 18 in which it held a 7-6 lead at intermission and held a more comfortable 6-3 advantage against Garden City before the Trojans rallied for a 9-8 overtime triumph on April 27.
Eight days later, a 7-4 South Side lead at the break turned into a 10-9 loss to Long Beach.
“We started out with some confidence and then you got into league play and it’s a really tough conference that we play in,” Devlin said. “When you go Manhasset, Cold Spring, Garden City all in a row, it can beat on you a little bit.”
Several players had noticeable improvements in their offensive stats. Haggerty was pacing the team with 45 goals and 63 points entering the Seaford game – well above the 18 in both categories in 2022 – and Rathjen wasn’t far behind with 39 goals and 53 points (17-11-28 last year). Senior Demmerle Hamel had 10 goals in the first two games and sat at 33.
Testa boosted the lineup after a lengthy absence and fellow junior Madden continued to be a steady presence at midfield with 15 goals, the same as speedy freshman Ava Curtis. Tri-captain Morgan Harloff had another great season anchoring the defense with junior Reese Haley and freshman Alexa Giannone.
Freshman goalie Tara Cody got the bulk of the playing time down the stretch and made 71 saves this season. Junior Kyla Murphy stepped up with eight saves in Monday’s win over Seaford.