Determined and gutsy in goal, Northport’s Emma Havrilla has her sights set on another successful season.
After prohibiting opponents from scoring in 13 matchups last year, the senior goalkeeper secured another shutout — a 1-0 victory in the Tigers girls soccer team’s first game of the season against Ward Melville Sept. 2.
“It felt really good,” Havrilla said of the away win. “Since we were reigning county champs last year this shows we’re ready to come out hard for it again this year.”
Even when the Patriots carried out multiple corner-kick attempts and pressured inside the box to try to avenge an overtime loss in last season’s Suffolk semifinals, Northport head coach Aija Gipp never questioned Havrilla’s abilities or her judgment calls.
“Having Emma back there — we trust her with every decision she makes,” she said.
And there were some close calls to be made. The senior leaped out and grabbed possession after each corner kick the Patriots took, and when Ward Melville sophomore midfielder Kiley Hamou had a breakaway opportunity with 30 minutes left in the game, Havrilla came out and tapped the ball to her right, and dodged to the left to secure possession of the ball on the rebound shot.
“I saw her take a bad touch, that’s when I come off my line,” Havrilla said. “Considering we tied them 0-0 and won in penalty kicks last year, it’s great to win against them this year.”
She too doesn’t have any doubt, as it pertains to her defensive line, despite the crop of younger competitors this year.
“We’ve put in a lot of work and I trust the girls in front of me,” she said. “We’re still just as strong.”
Senior midfielder Emily McNelis sealed the deal for Northport with 8:20 left in the first half, with the help of a penalty. Ward Melville was called for a handball, and Isabel Yeomans stepped up to send the ball into play. McNelis got a touch on the ball and sent it past Ward Melville senior goalkeeper Samantha Tarpey for the 1-0 lead.
“She was where she needed to be,” Gipp said. “Having Emily there, the goal, it was picture perfect.”
McNelis agreed with Havrilla that with Ward Melville being one of the toughest teams the Tigers will face, the win shows Northport is ready to rumble.
“Everyone played with so much heart and such a desire to win — we had great intensity and we kept it going,” McNelis said. “Ward Melville came out for blood today, and this shows that even though we lost a lot of key players last year, we’ve come out even better, and we’re still the top team to beat.”