Thunderbirds Focus, Dominate Round One

HALF HOLLOW HILLS, New York, May 21

BY: Andrew Wroblewski

Overcoming a mid-game lapse, the Thunderbirds defeated no. 12 East Islip, 11-5, on Friday in the opening round of the 2015 Suffolk Division I playoffs.

Thunderbirds junior middie Andre Gomez, right, co-led Hills East in points on Friday as they defeated no. 12 East Islip in the opening round of the 2015 Suffolk Division I playoffs.
Thunderbirds junior middie Andre Gomez, right, co-led Hills East in points on Friday as they defeated no. 12 East Islip in the opening round of the 2015 Suffolk Division I playoffs.

Three Thunderbirds – Andre Gomez, Sean Lully and Joe Tesoriero – co-led all players in scoring as each of the three produced 3 points each to help no. 5 Hills East (15-2) advance.

“East Islip is a good team, they’re a playoff team… We held them to 5 goals and we scored double-digits. When that happens, we’re going to win,” Thunderbirds head coach Gordon Hodgson said.

The Thunderbirds came out cruising in the first period as they overcame East Islip with a 5-1 advantage. From there, the two teams entered a deadlock of a second period where no goals were scored prior to halftime.

Then came the third period where, Hodgson said, the Thunderbirds were “sloppy” but were able to stay in control as they maintained an 8-4 lead heading into the final stanza.

“We did some poor things; our shooting was poor during that period. We had a lot of opportunities,” he said. “But we have a resilient team; they don’t quit.”

The Thunderbirds did not quit as they piled on 3 more goals to take the opening round game and eliminate East Islip (7-8) from the playoffs.

Gomez, a junior middie, provided 1 goal and 2 assists for Hills East. Lully, a sophomore middie, dished out 3 assists of his own, and Tesoriero, a junior attacker, earned all of his points with 3 goals. The remainder of Hills East’s offensive production was spread across Anthony Cappadona, Richie Hogan and Joe Wulforst – each scored 2 goals in the win.

In the net, Jordan Eichholz, a senior captain, anchored a stout Thunderbirds defense, which was able to keep an offensively threatening East Islip team at bay.

“Our goaltending has been excellent all year,” Hodgson said. “He’s a real leader out there on the defense… I’m just going to be sad that he’s leaving.”

While Eichholz is one of several Thunderbirds set to graduate next month, Hills East didn’t have to worry about saying its goodbyes for at least another game.

On Tuesday, after press time, the Thunderbirds were set to travel to no. 4 Ward Melville (15-2) for a second round matchup.

“They’re a very good team,” Hodgson said of Ward Melville. “We’ll have to game plan it and breakdown some film, [but] we’ll have a plan.”

If Hills East was able to come away with a win in that game, the Thunderbirds would next face the winner of no. 1 Northport (16-1) and no. 8 Sachem North (13-4) on Friday; the game is tentatively scheduled for 4 p.m. at whichever school in the matchup is the higher seed.

To keep up with the latest bracket, visit http://www.sectionxi.org.

Originally published: Long Islander News: Half Hollow Hills
(Thursday, May 21, 2015;  A23)

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