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Olivia Carner

Tigers take 9-6 win over Ward Melville's, which was the 400th of head coach Carol Rose's career

The Northport girls lacrosse team’s motto this season is “earned, not given,” and the Tigers proved Tuesday that they’re heeding the message.

In a battle of undefeated teams, Northport worked for each possession, goal and turnover to take a 9-6 win over host Ward Melville April 24.

“It’s the best feeling knowing we came out strong and were able to finish against a really great team,” said junior midfielder Olivia Carner, who scored a game-high four times and added an assist. Her final goal served as insurance, finding an empty net with 33 seconds left. “I was nervous, but I knew we had to be confident and work together.”

“I’m just so happy that they kept up the intensity throughout the entire game. They’re fighters, and they kept their composure.”

— Carol Rose

Northport junior goalkeeper Claire Morris made a stop with 7:18 remaining, and senior midfielder Nicole Orella scored the go-ahead goal off that possession for a 7-6 advantage in a game that saw five ties.

“We wanted to take care of the ball, make good decisions, and they were able to do that,” said Northport head coach Carol Rose. “They played as a team — they needed everybody.”

Rose said she was most impressed with senior attack Katherine Meyer, who scored twice. Her second goal, off a Danielle Pavinelli assist, gave Northport an 8-6 cushion with 2:03 left in the game.

“That’s the most she’s scored in a game, so she stepped up big for us,” the coach said. “Everybody contributed in some way. The defense was relentless, they caused a lot of turnovers. The goalie played really well. I’m just so happy that they kept up the intensity throughout the entire game. They’re fighters, and they kept their composure.”

After the teams traded scores until the game was 4-all, senior midfielder Emerson Cabrera popped outside the zone and made an arc around to the front of the cage where she scored from the left side to give Northport its first two-goal lead, 6-4, with 20 minutes left in the second half. Once again Ward Melville raced back into contention, with seniors Kate Mulham and Shannon Brazier scoring on free position and diving shots, respectively, to make it a new game.

“Kate Mulham is a really fast girl and we all knew we needed to be on our toes with her,” said Northport junior defender Isabella Hubbard. “We paid attention to her a lot throughout the game. There was a lot of pressure on [the defense], but we knew what we had to do and how to get it done.”

“It was a midseason battle, a test, and I told [my girls] to remember this feeling, because I can guarantee we’ll be seeing [Northport] again somewhere down the road.”

— Kerri Kilkenny

The senior, who scored three goals, said she uses the pressure placed on her from being the team’s leading scorers as motivation.

“I’m confident in the talent of my teammates and know that if I am shut down by a double team or a faceguard, my teammates around me will step up,” she said. “Every girl on the field deserves to be there, and I know that they will perform just as well in high-pressure situations. Northport is a big and fast team, and we knew they had some serious skill and speed in the midfield. Possession was crucial, and Northport’s players on the draw circle were tall and shifty. We knew the draw controls could determine the outcome of the game.”

Ward Melville head coach Kerri Kilkenny said she saw her team struggling to move the ball, and that losing draws early on put the Patriots in a hole.

“Northport was shooting the ball — they took at least double the amount of shots that we did,” she said. “They were more disciplined today than we were. They were absolutely the better team, but we hung in there. It was a midseason battle, a test, and I told them to remember this feeling, because I can guarantee we’ll be seeing them again somewhere down the road.”

The win was Rose’s 400th during her 29 years at the helm. She has averaged more than 14 wins per season at Northport.

“It’s kind of surreal — that’s a lot of lax games,” she said. “It’s an honor to have had the privilege to coach these wonderful, talented players in Northport throughout my tenure. It would not have been possible without the dedication and hard work that these kids put in throughout the years. They wanted this win bad, more than me, and they were really excited. They’re taking care of business and they’re on a mission.”

Northport (9-0 overall, 8-0 in Division I) plays host to Sachem North April 27 for a 4 p.m. matchup. Ward Melville (8-1, 7-1) will travel to Sachem East for a 4:30 p.m. game April 27.

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Victoria Colatosti dribbles the ball downfield. Photo by Jim Ferchland

By Jim Ferchland

Seniors Victoria Colatosti and Emily McNelis have led Northport soccer to the finish line.

With a 5-0 win over Walt Whitman Oct. 18, the Tigers tallied their eighth shutout of the season, while finishing undefeated at 14-0 overall and 12-0 in Legaue II.

Emily McNelis moves the ball through midfield. Photo by Jim Ferchland

“I cried,” McNelis said. “It’s our last real game. You never know — you could lose in the playoffs, even though we aren’t going to lose. It’s going to be really weird next year not being on this team and playing on this field. Every minute counts.”

The Tigers made every minute count Wednesday with a balanced attack. Sporting two of Suffolk County’s Top 10 scorers in Colatosti and McNelis (28 points each) doesn’t hurt, and senior Juliana Conforti and junior Olivia Carner combining for five points doesn’t hurt either.

Conforti scored Northport’s third goal in the 69th minute, and did it again two minutes later, with Carner assisting on both.

“On the first goal, Olivia saw me in the back, so she gave it back to me and it kind of went off the goalkeeper, kind of went off me,” Conforti said. “It was really the both of us, so we got that goal together.”

Carner said her team was ready to take the win, but she’s not ready to bid farewell to the seniors just yet.

“It’s really easy to see my teammates, like Conforti,” she said. “We practice all the time so the second I see her, it’s so easy to know that she can finish when I pass it to her. It’s really sad to think about our best friends not being here with us next year.”

Julilana Conforti sends the ball downfield. Photo by Jim Ferchland

Colatosti scored two goals, her second was unassisted in the 72nd minute. She scored the second goal of the game in the 37th off an assist from Conforti, who controlled the ball on the right side and saw Colatosti open in the center, and took advantage of the opportunity.

“If the team continues to play the way they’ve been playing all season, they have a real shot at winning the Long Island Championship,” Northport head coach Aija Gipp said. “It’s a long road to get to that final game, but they definitely have what it takes to get there.”

It was a quiet 0-0 affair through 24 minutes of action though, until McNelis put one past Walt Whitman’s goalkeeper with an assist from junior Isabel Yeomans. McNelis said her team was not accustomed to being locked in a stalemate for that long.

“We usually score in the first 10 minutes,” McNelis said. ‘We got a little frantic in the beginning, but we settled down and we caught the defense off guard. Isabel made a good kick and I attacked.”

The team reflected on last year’s win on penalty kicks over Walt Whitman prior to the senior day game. McNelis said her Tigers knew they needed to come out strong to ensure that wasn’t going to happen again.

“That was insane,” McNelis said of last year’s win. “We were not letting them tie us again on this field. We came out strong. It’s our turf.”

Northport's Olivia Carner dumps the ball into the cage over the Bay Shore goalkeeper’s stick. Photo by Desirée Keegan

These Tigers are showing their teeth.

The Northport girls’ lacrosse team capped off the regular season with a six-game winning streak, holding Bay Shore scoreless through the first half Tuesday and trampling the Marauders 13-4, to prove they’re not a team to take lightly in the playoffs.

“I thought they played with confidence,” Northport head coach Carol Rose said. “We played aggressive on defense, fairly patient on offense and we were able to execute some of these fast-break opportunities that we had and not have any letdown in the second half like we had in the past two games. Maintaining the momentum was good.”

Northport senior attack Gabbi Labuskes put the team’s first point on the board after a foul call, and from there the team kept the ball rolling, scoring four more unanswered goals — with Labuskes scoring the last one — to take a 5-0 lead into the halftime break.

Northport's Gabbi Labuskes moves the ball across the field past two Bay Shore players. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Northport’s Gabbi Labuskes moves the ball across the field past two Bay Shore players. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“I think a big part of our win was going to be who won the first draw of the game; who came out 100 percent,” Labuskes said. “Moving the ball up the field was probably our biggest help throughout the game because we were able to transition the ball with half-field passes really quick and get it over the defense’s head. I think that played a really big factor.”

The senior attack scored the opening goal of the second half after she bulled her way up the middle and lobbed the ball overhead for her hat trick goal.

Northport junior midfielder Natalie Langella was next to score, followed by eighth-grade midfielder Olivia Carner, who dumped the ball in top center over the goalkeeper’s stick for her second goal of the game.

“They felt good about themselves and I think that that was key, especially when we were losing draw controls” Rose said of her team’s ability to score. “I think we only won four out of 18 draws. That’s not so good. To be able to come out on top with a 13-4 win and lose all the draws is pretty amazing. It also shows a great defensive effort.”

Northport junior attack Courtney Orella whipped one past the keeper next, and with 11:36 left to play, Bay Shore finally put a point on the scoreboard to avoid the shutout.

Labuskes took over on the draw and helped her team win possession, and on the next scoring play, two of Northport’s youngest players connected for a goal. Carner dished the ball in front of the net to seventh-grade attack Danielle Pavinelli, who scored for a 10-1 advantage.

Bay Shore tacked on another goal when an opponent beat out Northport eighth-grade goalkeeper Claire Morris. Labuskes followed with her fourth goal of the game, after clashing with two Bay Shore defenders and shooting over a cluster of defenders while sliding into the turf, and Bay Shore scored again to bring the score to 11-3.

“I think the defense has come a long way,” Rose said of her team. “They’ve been experimenting with three or four different types of defenses and they’re finally comfortable with a couple of them.”

Labuskes scored her fifth goal of the game off an assist by senior midfielder and co-captain Victoria D’Amato. After a Bay Shore goal, Pavinelli tallied the final goal of the game on a bounce shot with 23 seconds left on the clock.

Heading into playoffs, Rose would like to see her team focus on winning more draws and limiting the turnovers, but she’s confident in her Tigers, who finished the regular season 12-4 overall with an 11-3 mark in Division I.

“We only had three loses in the regular season — they were close, and I think it’s anybody’s game,” Rose said of heading into the postseason. “Whoever plays with the most head, heart and hustle will come out on top.”

The No. 3-seeded Tigers will face off against the winner of Saturday’s No. 6 Ward Melville versus No. 11 Half Hollow Hills game at home on Tuesday, May 19. The opening draw is scheduled for 4 p.m.

Like her coach, Labuskes is sure her team has what it takes to make a run this postseason.

“It feels deserved,” Labuskes said of the win. “I think this team can do whatever we want it to do. I think we have the potential to go all the way if we want to put the work in and if we want it that bad.”

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