By Desirée Keegan
Northport goalkeeper Emma Havrilla has a way of firing up her team, and with one swift motion, she lit the match.
Less than a minute into the second half, Northport’s Havrilla moved just slightly to her left to block Amanda Sheradin’s penalty kick, which could have been the difference-maker for Smithtown West, and then dove on the rebound to keep the scoreboard blank.
The No. 2-seeded Bulls had been dominating the ball up to the penalty kick save, but that stop, which was one of Havrilla’s 13, sparked a turnaround.
“We’ve been working so hard since August, and it’s finally our time to shine.”
“I looked into her eyes and I could see the fear; I knew where she was going,” Havrilla said. “It gave our team more confidence. Then, after the first goal we scored, we kept the momentum going.”
No. 1 Northport blanked Smithtown West 3-0 to claim the Suffolk County Class AA title for the first time in three years. The Tigers were eliminated in the semifinals each of the last two seasons.
Past disappointment served as motivation this season, according to at least one Tiger.
“Our team has been working so hard since that loss to Massapequa [in the 2013 Long Island championship game], and we’re finally back here,” defender Stephanie Rapp said. “We’ve been working so hard since August, and it’s finally our time to shine.”
Rapp was one of two girls tasked with shutting down Smithtown West’s leading offensive threat, Sarah Harrington. Rapp and Harrington had been teammates on a travel team, so Rapp had an advantage over most defenders in the league.
“She’s amazing in the air and with her footwork, so we had to put pressure on her to keep her out,” Rapp said.
The Bulls had a few more chances at a goal, but Havrilla refused to yield.
At 23:23, Victoria Colatosti chipped in what ended up being the game winner.
“After Emma’s stop with the PK, it just woke them up and they killed it out there.”
“It was back and forth,” Colatosti said of the action in front of the net. “Paige Leonard got a touch at the 18, I saw an open shot and took it, and thank God it went in.”
Northport made it 2-0 on Emily McNelis’ goal with less than 10 minutes left in the contest, and 3-0 on Emily Zeblisky’s goal with four minutes remaining.
“To see our attack finally come together was huge,” Northport head coach Aija Gipp said, adding that her team built on its aggressiveness to put the pressure on. “It gives us that confidence going into the next round. After Emma’s stop with the PK, it just woke them up and they killed it out there.”
Northport will get its rematch against Massapequa Nov. 4 at 6:30 p.m. at St. Joseph’s College. Colatosti is confident, and added that although it’s not going to be easy, it’s going to exciting to be a part of.
“It feels so good to finally be where we should be,” she said. “Losing last year in the semifinals — that shouldn’t have happened, so it feels good to be where we deserved to be and where we’ve been working hard to be.”