Rachel Masullo reaches for the loose ball. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Middle Country’s Rachel Masullo reaches for the loose ball in a previous game against Sachem. Photo by Desirée Keegan

By Desirée Keegan

The Middle Country girls’ lacrosse team still can’t get through West Islip.

In the Division I Class A semifinals last Wednesday, the Mad Dogs fell to their rival, 11-7, to mark the third season in a row that that West Islip eliminated them.

In 2014, Middle Country felt lost in the last second of the Class A semifinal game, 12-11. In 2015, the two teams paired up in the Class A finals, where the Lions edged the Mad Dogs 11-10 in double overtime.

No. 2 Middle Country was hoping that this would be its year to make it past No. 3 West Islip. Although both teams continued to lose star athletes over the last two seasons, each still had powerhouse potential with returning players.

For Middle Country, it was junior Jamie Ortega. She and her older sister Nikki helped the team to two of its most successful seasons in 2014 and 2015.

In the semifinal game, Jamie Ortega tallied a hat trick and two assists. Junior Amanda Masullo notched two goals, sophomore Emily Diaz added two assists and juniors Ava Barry and Rachel Masullo, Amanda’s twin sister, rounded out the scoring with one goal each.

But Emily Beier and Samantha Blair each scored three goals to lead West Islip.

Beier actually assisted on the final play in double overtime last year for the goal that eliminated Middle Country.

West Islip moved on to take on No. 1-seeded Smithtown West in the Class A finals at Dowling Sports Complex in Shirley, where the team came from behind to outscore the Bulls 9-8.

Looking ahead, the Mad Dogs graduate just four seniors. Although losing some impactful players in Jordynn Aiello, Shannon Doherty, Nicole Lattimore and Brianna Reyes, the team will return some strength on the defensive end in junior goalkeeper Emily Walsh, sophomore Emily Diaz on the draw and scoring leaders Ortega and Barry on offense.