By Bill Landon
Middle Country’s girls’ lacrosse team shut out Northport in the second half to cruise to a 14-5 victory May 8, and remain in a tie for the No. 2 spot in Division I with Smithtown East.
Northport midfielder Olivia Carner broke the ice on a penalty shot in the first minute of play, as the Duke University-bound sophomore stretched the net for the early advantage.
But the Mad Dogs answered with three successive senior goals. First, was Boston University-bound Ava Barry, then University of North Carolina commit Jamie Ortega and then Masullo twins Amanda and Rachel, both Long Island University Brooklyn-bound, teamed up for the 3-1 lead.
“I told my team to drop anything that we thought about this team and rely on our strength and determination,” Rachel Masullo said. “We really wanted this game. It was a confidence booster.”
Northport’s Emerson Cabrera, a University of Florida commit, drilled two shots past the goalkeeper in under a minute to make it a new game, but Middle Country kept attacking.
Barry and the Masullo sisters did it again, and Barry found Amanda Masullo on the cut for a 6-3 lead with just under seven minutes left in the half.
“They’ve always been good, so we always have to be ready to play Northport,” Amanda Masullo said. “We stepped it up in the second half winning the draws on offense and we knew we had to settle in and not force it, so I think we really came to play today.”
Northport’s Natalie Langella, who is headed to Bryant University, cashed in on a penalty shot, and U.S. Coast Guard Academy-bound Brenna Farrington made it a one-goal game.
But the Tigers would come no closer.
A man up, Rachel Masullo dished the ball off to Barry for a goal, and then Ortega scored for an 8-5 advantage.
“It snowballed to hell from there,” Northport head coach Carol Rose said. “These girls have got to work harder — they’ve got to play with some passion and more energy — they’ve got to have some more fight in them. They kind of just gave up. It was hard to watch.”
When the Tigers did get the ball, they struggled to transition up the field and when they did, the Mad Dog defense was up to the task.
“We knew they’d be motivated and really hyped, and they came out strong, but we took over in the second half,” Ortega said of Northport’s senior day. “We limited our turnovers, didn’t make mistakes and won a lot of the draws. But from here on out, we have to play our best because everyone wants to beat you, and in the playoffs you don’t have a second chance.”
Boston University-bound Jennifer Barry, Ava’s younger sister, Amy Hofer, University of Michigan commit Sophie Alois and Camrynn Aiello all scored in the second half.
Rachel Masullo had one goal and six assists, Ortega finished with four goals and two assists, and Amanda Masullo notched a hat trick and added an assist.
“They played us tough, but I don’t think we played up to our potential,” Middle Country head coach Lindsay Dolson said. “In the second half we had more draws, better defense and shot selection on offense, so I was pleased. Amanda Gennardo did a really nice job on defense — she came up with a huge amount of ground balls for us and she transitioned it up the field with no turnovers and that was nice to see from our underclassman.”
With the win, Middle Country improves to 11-2 and sit under undefeated Ward Melville with two games remaining before postseason play begins.
“In the playoffs, if you lose, you’re out,” Ortega said. “I don’t want to lose in the playoffs.”