By Bill Landon
With 46 seconds left on the clock, it all came down to a single draw for Middle Country’s girls’ lacrosse team, which, leading 10-9, needed a crucial possession win to try and bring home the Mad Dogs’ first Long Island championship title in program history.
With Jennifer Barry taking the draw, her older sister Ava, a senior, said she spoke to her of the draw’s importance.
“’You have to block everything out,’” Ava Barry said she told her sister. “’I told her, ‘you’re great at this, we’ve practiced this.’ She knew she had to get it, and she did.”
Senior Jamie Ortega was there to scoop up the ball, and with it, the school district’s first Long Island Class A title with a 10-9 win over Massapequa at Adelphi University June 4.
“It feels great — I’m so happy for them,” Middle Country head coach Lindsay Dolson said of the win. “They grinded until the last second, and that’s what we needed them to do.”
It wasn’t the only title that Ortega grabbed Sunday.
The University of North Carolina-bound senior needed three points to become New York’s leading point-scorer. The nation’s top lacrosse recruit, who leads Suffolk County with 130 points off 89 goals and 41 assists, surpassed Northport’s Shannon Gilroy’s record of 570 points.
She did it fast, too, during Middle Country’s first three goals. First, she fed senior Amanda Masullo to tie the game, 1-1, and on a man-up advantage, passed to an open Sophie Alois, who found the back of the goal to retie the game 2-2. With the score knotted 3-3 after Ortega scored on an feed from senior Ava Barry, and her teammate returned the favor to help Ortega pass Gilroy and give Middle Country its first lead of the game. And Ortega didn’t stop there. She scored again as the Mad Dogs went on a 4-1 run to lead 7-4 at the break.
“When I beat the record it felt really nice, but winning that game was my biggest goal,” Ortega said. “Being recognized for my achievements makes me really proud, but the ride this entire team has been on has been one for the books.”
Barry scored on a cut, and fed Ortega her hat trick goal for a 9-4 lead to open the second half. Massapequa rattled off two unanswered goals before Ortega and Barry connected again.
That’s when things began to break down for Middle Country. The team wasn’t winning the draws, and the extra possessions led to a 5-0 Massapequa run.
“I was so nervous,” Barry said of the scoring streak. “We came out hard and we were racking up points, and then all of a sudden, we weren’t getting the draw like we were.”
She said she thinks her team lost focus, but said a timeout call settled the team down.
“We [started] to panic,” Ortega said. “We brought it in [during the timeout] and we knew we had to keep up our defense. We knew they could score again, and thankfully, we were able to hold them.”
Behind Ortega’s three goals and four assists, was Ava Barry with a hat trick and two assists. Alois netted two goals, and twin sisters Rachel and Amanda Masullo each scored once, with Rachel also feeding on a goal. Senior Emily Walsh made five saves between the pipes.
The Mad Dogs carry a potent offense into the state semifinal game June 9, where the Mad Dogs will take take on North Rockland in the state semifinals at SUNY Cortland at 4:30 p.m.
Dolson joked she’s not only hoping to pull out a win for her special senior class, but also for a little battle she has going on at home.
“My husband won his state championship with his wrestling team at Mattituck,” she said. “So now I need to get mine.”
Ortega thinks they’re on the right track to get there.
“I really think we could win states if we play to our full potential,” she said. “It’s something that I always dreamed about and finally bringing home that win means the world to me and to my team. We worked so hard, we have such a talented team and we are so close. I know that we can continue to make history.”
Desirée Keegan contributed reporting