Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York By John Dundon Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images For another duo of Long Islanders, the only thing that would’ve made the trip to Rio worth it was flying home with gold around their necks. When you fail to achieve said goal, well, it sucks.Ask Huntington native Allie Long and Crystal Dunn of New Hyde Park, who both had significant roles on the US Women’s Soccer squad.The World Cup champs fell short in Rio. Their disappointing defeat came at the hands of Sweden, by the closest of margins—a heart breaking 1-1 loss by penalty kicks. Sweden’s strategy seemingly involved hanging on until the last minute and forcing the game into penalties, where timely strikes and lucky saves merit the result as opposed to team skill.To call the loss shocking would be an understatement. For a team that was billed from the start to win gold, the quarterfinals defeat was an abject failure, nothing less.While high expectations ended in disappointment for Long and Dunn, basketball star Sue Bird and the US Women’s basketball team delivered—yet again. They coasted to the program’s sixth-straight Olympic gold medal. Bird, a Syosset native, clinched her fourth straight Olympic gold.Bird played a big hand in what should be considered the greatest women’s basketball team of all-time, period. Not only was she the team’s main facilitator on the court, Bird served as co-captain, and was one of the most well-respected leaders off the court.Bird was in danger of missing the gold medal game due to an injury suffered earlier in the tournament, but she ultimately suited up. For Bird, who is 35 years old and still one of the best players in the world, the question now becomes whether or not this was her last time as an Olympian. The veteran point guard will have some more hardware for her collection when she returns home this week.That’s not the case for sailor Bora Gulari, who lived on the Island briefly as a child. He narrowly missed a bronze medal in his sailing event. He placed fourth. With the conclusion of the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Summer Olympic Games, it’s with hearty pats on the back that America welcomes home the locals who competed in their respective events.Long Island had ties to five athletes who competed in Rio. Some, like basketball star Sue Bird, soccer players Allie Long and Crystal Dunn, had larger than life expectations to come back stateside with gold medals. Of the LI medal hopefuls, Bird was the only athlete to secure a place on the podium.The Games concluded Sunday evening during a closing ceremony punctuated with the customary passing-of-the-torch to Tokyo, the host of the 2020 summer Olympiad.While fans judge a country’s accomplishments by victories, Olympians themselves are not as singularly focused. Some athletes traveled to Brazil for reasons that can’t be defined by a medal count. Take, for example, race walker and Farmingville native Maria Michta-Coffey.“No, I will not win, no, I will not medal, and no, I probably won’t be top 10,” Michta-Coffey acknowledged on her personal blog before the games. “I am not defining this journey, the journey of an Olympic Dream, by success that is limited to a number.”For hundreds of athletes in Rio who weren’t considered favorites to medal in their respective events, the Olympics represent more than just hardware. They are the culmination of a lifetime of preparation and discipline. To have simply been an Olympian is simply enough.While Michta-Coffey placed 22nd in her event, the 20-kilometer race walk, she considers herself a champion in a different way.“Measuring success in your own terms, without numbers, but in experiences is a way to bring greater meaning to your accomplishment. It also is a reminder that these experiences, this journey, the people who shared in it with you, these memories created, these are all yours forever,” Michta-Coffey wrote.
GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Nov. 22 and 23, 2002, held a place in the minds of the seniors on the Wisconsin men’s hockey team, but it wasn’t for a good reason.That weekend the Badgers were swept at Ralph Engelstad Arena, including a Saturday night contest which saw them get out-shot 30-6 through the first two periods before salvaging two late goals in a 3-2 loss.Those seniors got their revenge this weekend as UW swept North Dakota with convincing 4-2 and 4-1 victories on the road.”[My freshman year] we got smoked, we got out-battled and it was an embarrassing second night,” senior Ryan MacMurchy said. “Senior year, to sweep them after not winning in four years here, it just feels so great.””I’m really happy for our seniors,” UW head coach Mike Eaves said. “They were here four years ago and we were just embarrassed here. For them to come back in their senior year and have the success they had this weekend is very satisfying to them.”Saturday night the Badgers took advantage of an early five-minute power play, scoring three first-period goals en route to a 4-1 win.Fighting Sioux captain Matt Smaby checked Badger forward Robbie Earl from behind, resulting in a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct. UW didn’t take long to get on the scoreboard.Jake Dowell found MacMurchy after some shifty passing and the senior winger slapped the puck home to give his team the 1-0 lead.After the two teams traded penalties, assistant captain Andrew Joudrey doubled the lead during four-on-three action. Jeff Likens passed to Joudrey in the left circle and the junior found the far side of the net for the goal.The backbreaker came when captain Adam Burish stole a pass with the Sioux on a power play with less than two minutes left in the opening period. The senior went on a breakaway and beat UND netminder Jordan Parise to put UW up 3-0.North Dakota hadn’t given up a first-period goal all year coming into the series, but the Badgers found a way to notch five first-period tallies in the series.The Sioux got one goal back late in the first, but freshman Jack Skille put the nail in the coffin with a power play goal in the second.Parise had a career-high 42 saves, but came away with the loss as the Badgers played their systems to a tee.”We just played great tonight,” MacMurchy said. “We played system hockey, we just made smart plays and we just played really hard and that’s what we need to do. We’re going to be really hard to beat if we play like that every night.”While it was a five-minute power play which dictated Saturday’s game, it was the killing of a five-minute penalty which changed Friday’s contest.The Badgers took the early lead thanks to a goal from their fourth line just 3:39 into the game.Nick Licari faked a shot from the left circle, then passed to sophomore Matt Ford who deposited the puck in the empty right side of the net for his first goal of the year.Skille doubled the lead with less than three minutes left in the first period, but UND got one back in the final minute.When Robbie Earl notched a goal at 8:44 of the second period, things looked bleak for the Sioux. But they got their comeback chance when UW defenseman Matt Olinger was dealt the same penalty that Smaby received Saturday.North Dakota had multiple opportunities to score, but one way or another goalie Brian Elliott slammed the door shut and the Badgers killed off the five-minute power play, dashing UND’s comeback hopes.”You take a look at turning points, that was one of them,” Eaves said. “The guys were great on the bench. They had a great attitude once the penalty was called and they went to work at it.”Elliott shined in the game — and throughout the weekend — making 54 saves while allowing just three goals in the two-game set. He has held opponents to two goals or less in each of his last 11 games.”I don’t think it’s surprising to me … I go out there to stop them all,” Elliott said. “Two is pretty good. You can win a lot of games if you only let in two goals.”The two teams traded goals in the third period as the Badgers skated away with a 4-2 win.Friday night’s win was Wisconsin’s first in Grand Forks since October 2001. The sweep Saturday night was the team’s first road-sweep of the Sioux since the 1996 WCHA playoffs.”This weekend was a measuring stick for us,” Eaves said. “Anytime you want to play at a championship level you have to win two big games in a row, and we did that this weekend.”It’s right back to work for the first-place Badgers, though. They will try to hold off second-place Colorado College in a series at the Kohl Center next weekend.