By Steven Zaitz
Sixty regulation minutes was not enough.
The extra 10 in overtime could not decide it either.
When the Northport Tigers field hockey team invaded Smithtown East March 22, the matchup pitted two of the elite teams on Long Island. They needed a shootout to decide it, and it was Smithtown East goaltender Gianna Festa who stood tall.
She did not allow a goal in the shootout, stopping all four Northport attempts. Dani Brady, one of Long Island’s top players scored on her mano y mano with Northport goalie Natalie McKenna, who was also excellent, that decided it for the Bulls. The final score was officially 2-1.
Festa, who had 12 saves in addition to her four stops in the shootout, sparked a wild, equipment-flinging celebration seconds after making her final stop. Brady, teammate Sydney Anderson and Northport’s Sophia Bica are all listed on Newsday’s Top 25 players of Long Island, but it was Festa that earned the Most Valuable Player of this star-studded affair, making several acrobatic saves throughout regulation, overtime and the shootout.
This game was a hard-fought war and the survivor — Smithtown East — has now equaled Northport’s record of 5-1. Ward-Melville, who beat Sachem East Monday, is atop the Suffolk County leaderboard with a record of 6-0.