Hauppauge's Taylor Ranftle spent most of her time behind the opposing net, obstructed but ever-present, and very suitably breathing down the goalie's neck.
That can happen when you're the best offensive player on a very good girls lacrosse team. Mount Sinai was face-guarding the Hauppauge attack the entire game and Ranftle's goal was to get as much space and as many opportunities as she could with defender Carly Spano shadowing her every move.
Ranftle had no trouble, scoring seven goals and adding two assists as Hauppauge beat Mt. Sinai, 17-7, Tuesday in a Suffolk Division II game.
"I'd run behind the net so they wouldn't have time to face-guard me," said Ranftle, whom ESPN ranks as the No. 4 attack in the country. "It's hard in transition, but when I'm behind there, it's not bad at all. All the girls on top are looking for me and it's the same."
It became almost formulaic for Ranftle: run out, spin or sidestep to deke a defender, and finish. Sometimes, her positioning worked in other ways -- like when she pursued goalie Julia Michaels around the net until the attempted clear went out of bounds. Ranftle made good on the possession change, scoring seconds later for a 6-3 advantage with 7:17 left in the first. The Eagles (4-0) ended the half up 10-3.
"She takes control of the offense and she's able to take girls one-on-one," coach Abby Zeltmann said of Ranftle. "She's very good at finding weaknesses and playing the crease."
Meanwhile, the Hauppauge defense stepped it up, mostly containing Mt. Sinai (3-2) until a two-minute stretch early in the second half where they scored three times to make it 11-6.
Lauren Descalzo further buoyed the Eagles offense with three goals and two assists, while Jenna Vinci had two goals and two assists. Mt. Sinai's Marisa Colacino, Caroline Fitzgerald and Sydney Pirreca scored two goals apiece.
"We went out there trying to hold our position as tops in the division," Descalzo said. "They would double up so we [attacked] early and looked for an open cutter."
That was Ranftle, behind the net, waiting to strike.