The school’s 88th year was truly an historic one for our athletic teams. To put it into perspective, in 87 years the Bears had won three Long Island Championships and zero State Championships, but by the end of the winter season the total number of Long Island titles had doubled and the first state crown had been brought back to campus. 2009-2010 saw banners added to the walls of Swanson Gymnasium for 3 Long Island Championships, 4 County Championships, 2 League Championships, and the school’s first State Championship. Here is a recap of one of the teams that victoriously wore the blue and white.
One year removed from losing in the State Final Four, the mission for our girls was simple: get back. The Bears finished a grueling league season 9-5-2 behind the play of offensive duo New York State Player of the Year Donna Liotine (17G/6A) and 2nd Team All-State Michelle Hennessy (15G/9A) and the stingy defense of 1st team All-State goalie Danielle Pappas and sweeper Brianna Stiklickas. The Bears showed their mettle throughout the season with a huge win over Class B power Mattituck and a hard-fought 4-4 tie vs. Class D State Semi-Finalist Smithtown Christian. Our girls looked poised for another postseason run.
The first hurdle came against Pierson in the Class C County Championship. The Whalers barely tested the Blue and White as the girls callously dismantled our east end rivals, 5-2, for a 3rd straight title. Next came a familiar foe in Friends Academy who the girls had dismissed in this same game the last two years. In 2009 the script remained unchanged for the Quakers as our girls unleashed an endless barrage of shots en route to a 3-0 victory for a 3rd straight Long Island crown. The Bears’ staunch defense continued in the Regional Final against S. S. Seward as Pappas, Stiklickas, Kierran Petersen, and Lisa Harbes helped record a 2nd straight shutout. The offense did their part as well, scoring 3 times behind the play of Hennessy (1G/2A), Liotine (1G), Kelsey Wentling (1G), and Stiklickas (1A) to put a Stony Brook team in the State Final Four for only the fourth time in school history. In the State semifinal vs. Seton Catholic, it was again the defense that shone the brightest, recording a third straight shutout in the three biggest games of the year behind Pappas’ 12 saves. Extra time was required and in the 97th minute Wentling, aided by Hennessy, scored the biggest goal to that point in school history, placing Stony Brook in its first State Championship game in any sport.
The Bears were just one victory away from realizing their dream, but a very large obstacle loomed: an undefeated Sauquoit Valley (22-0) team ranked #1 in the state. As if that was not a tall enough order, the hero of the semi-final, Kelsey Wentling, was the maid of honor at her sister’s wedding and unable to take her normal place at forward. Early in the contest the Bears found themselves trailing for the first time in the postseason when Sauquoit scored on a rebound off of the crossbar, but just as they had throughout the entire season, our girls refused to wilt. With 25:39 remaining in the 1st half, Donna Liotine scored a sparkling goal off of a free kick that curved over a wall of defenders and into the top right corner to knot the score at 1-1. Then, with only 6:35 gone in the 2nd half, Hennessy scored a monumental goal, off of a feed from Liotine, to give the Blue and White the lead and send the Stony Brook contingent into a frenzy, filling the silence left by the hundreds of opposing Indians fans. The remaining 34:25 could not tick off the clock fast enough for the Stony Brook faithful that made the trek up to Cortland, NY, but throughout the rest of the game the defense never wavered behind the exceptional play of Pappas (14 saves), whose every save seemingly topped the last, and Stiklickas who ran down every ball in the backfield, frustrating the potent Sauquoit attack. The Indians offense, that outscored its opponents 28-4 in the postseason, finally met its match. As the final whistle blew the girls rushed to the center of the field, reveling in the finest hour of Stony Brook athletics. It was a fitting end to a season we will never forget.
However, this remarkable team was not through making history. In the weeks following the season, Donna Liotine was named the Class C New York State Player of the Year and coach Mark Maningo was named the Class C New York State Coach of the Year. With only one player graduating from the squad the Brookers have a lot to look forward to this coming fall.