Tags Posts tagged with "Mad Dogs"

Mad Dogs

Rachel Masullo reaches for the loose ball. Photo by Desirée Keegan
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.

Girls' lacrosse team's Jamie Ortega scores six in quarterfinal win, Mad Dogs will host rival West Islip in semis

Jamie Ortega, who scored six goals in the win, makes her way down the field. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Junior midfielder Jamie Ortega started and capped off a 7-0 run that helped Middle Country mow down Sachem North, 14-9, in the Division I Class A quarterfinals Friday — and running is the name of the Mad Dogs’ game.

“This is our run to the counties,” junior midfielder and attack Ava Barry said of her 16-1 team that is now on an 11-game win streak. “We did really well moving the ball down the field and really using our speed.”

Sophie Alois races across the field as she carries the ball into Sachem North's zone. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Sophie Alois races across the field as she carries the ball into Sachem North’s zone. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Middle Country raced up and down the field, and despite being double-teamed the entire way, Ortega muscled her way past defenders, firing shot after shot.

“Finding Jamie, even though she was faceguarded, that was definitely helpful,” senior defender Jordynn Aiello said. “Everyone was used today.”

Ortrega scored twice more during the seven-run spurt, freshman attack Sophie Alois tacked on two goals and Barry netted one.

“I think we shot well and we transitioned the ball,” Middle Country head coach Lindsay Dolson said. “I think we rode really well in their transition.”

Ahead 11-3 to open the second half, Barry scored less than a minute in, Oretga added another and, after a Sachem North score, Barry tallied her hat trick goal after swiveling around defenders and dumping the ball in up high, off a feed in front of the cage.

“We knew coming in here that we had to play our game,” Aiello said. “It wasn’t our best game, but we pulled it out and played together, and that’s what counts.”

No. 2 Middle Country will face No. 3 West Islip in the semifinals on Wednesday at Newfield High School at 4 p.m.

West Islip has proven to be the Mad Dogs’ Achilles’ heel the last two seasons, knocking out Middle Country in the semifinals in 2014, 12-11, with one second left in regulation, and edging out the team in the finals in double overtime last year, 11-10.

Emily Diaz reaches for possession off the draw. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Emily Diaz reaches for possession off the draw. Photo by Desirée Keegan

But the team topped West Islip this season, 9-3, on April 29. Dolson said she thinks that the past years’ experience will help the team heading into the final rounds.

“We’re on to the next one,” she said. “We’ve been there before, so I think the experience will definitely help us hopefully get to the finals after West Islip.”

For players like Aiello, she wants to make sure her Mad Dogs stays focused on the next task at hand, to not get ahead of themselves.

“We need to make sure we keep our minds set on our goal and take it one game at a time,” she said. “Right now we’re looking forward to Wednesday versus West Islip and we have to come in and know that our goal is to beat them. We have to make sure we come out hard, stay strong on defense, cut off their big scorers and make sure we put the ball in the back of the net.”

If Middle Country wins on Wednesday, the team will face the winner of the Smithtown West/Northport matchup. Regardless of who the opponent may be if Middle Country makes it, Aiello said she has enjoyed the ride.

“We’ve been strong from the beginning,” Aiello said. “Coming into this season I had a good, strong feeling about these girls. A majority of us have been playing together since fourth grade. I’m very sad it’s my last season playing with them since I grew up with them, but I know we have something special on this field and I don’t want it to go to waste.”

Rachel Masullo reaches for the loose ball. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Rachel Masullo reaches for the loose ball. Photo by Desirée Keegan

by -
0 146
Senior midfielder Justin Eck fires at the cage. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Middle Country countered Half Hollow Hills West’s four unanswered goals with four of their own to close within one in the second quarter of Division I boys’ lacrosse action Thursday afternoon, but the Mad Dogs couldn’t maintain the same level as the Colts and fell 15-9 in their second to last game of the season.

Trailing by two, Middle Country finally got on the scoreboard when junior Ryan Wheeler dished the ball to classmate and midfielder Michael Benasutti, who drove his shot home to cut the lead in half, to 2-1, at the 4:30 mark of the opening quarter.

The Colts countered by rattling off four unanswered goals in the next two minutes for a 6-1 advantage in the opening minute of the second quarter, but the Mad Dogs found a rhythm and scored four of their own, beginning with senior midfielder Kyle Stemke, to pull within one goal. Next to score was senior attack Ty Tracey, who connected for the score on a pass from senior attack David Garcia, the cutter, and Stemke struck again with a blast just outside the crease with six minutes left in the half to help his team close within two, 6-4.

Senior attack David Garcia gets checked. Photo by Bill Landon
Senior attack David Garcia gets checked. Photo by Bill Landon

“They’re a strong team — it just comes down to heart and that plays a major role in the game,” Stemke said.

Garcia’s stick spoke next when his shot stretched the net to shave the deficit to 6-5 at the 2:33 mark.

Garcia said knowing his teammates since childhood has helped the team developed a bond both on and off the field.

“We knew that they were a very good team, we worked hard and we’ve played our whole lives together,” Garcia said, adding that his team was able to come back because “we kept each other up and we stayed positive the whole way.”

The Mad Dogs came no closer though, as the Colts rattled the cage with five more goals in less than two minutes, to surge ahead 11-5 at the halftime break.

Middle Country opened the third quarter able to hold the Colts in check, and junior attack Matthew Gensinger’s drilled one past the goalie to stop the onslaught. Unlike the final minutes of the second quarter, the Middle Country defense was able to hold its opponent, limiting the Colts to just two goals in the third, but the Mad Dogs failed to score again until the final quarter.

With less than five minutes left in the game, junior midfielder Jessie McKeever fed senior midfielder Justin Eck on a cut, and he drilled his shot just inside the pipes to trail 13-7.

Middle Country kept pace the rest of the way, with junior Nicholas Belmonte and sophomore Daniel Hogan countering two Half Hollow Hills goals, but the team’s efforts were not enough to catch the Colts.

Middle Country head coach Christopher Siragusa said he thought his team would have been able to keep up with its opponent if it weren’t for the last two minutes of the second quarter.

Senior midfielder Kyle Stemke sprints to the crease. Photo by Bill Landon
Senior midfielder Kyle Stemke sprints to the crease. Photo by Bill Landon

“I thought that we could handle them,” he said. “It depended on what team we had on the field — we’re a strong character team, we fought with every team we faced this season, even the top dogs. We thought we had a good shot at it.”

Senior goalkeeper Christian Brody said he wasn’t surprised by Half Hollow Hills West, and knew he would have a busy day between the pipes.

“They’re what we expected — they’re heavy shooters and they swing the ball very well,” said Brody, who finished with 11 saves. “But it’s all about how our defense sets up, and we had great stops on defense. They did a good job.”

Stemke said he’s felt honored to play on the same field as his goalkeeper, who has worked hard to keep the team in games this season.

“Our goalie played great,” he said. “He’s having a great year and I can’t thank him enough for getting in that cage every game.”

With the loss, Middle Country drops to 4-9, and will finish out the season hosting Lindenhurst on Thursday at 7 p.m.

 

This version corrects the Half Hollow Hills West mascot.

Rachel Masullo moves through traffic. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Middle Country made quick work of Commack Tuesday, scoring five unanswered goals in the first five minutes of the contest, and despite losing its opening power, came away with a 15-10 win.

“We were kind of flat — there wasn’t a lot of intensity and it definitely showed,” Middle Country head coach Lindsay Dolson said. “It has to do with our warm-up, and certain teams they take lightly. We’ve talked about it — not to do that. Good thing we didn’t get caught today, but it definitely could’ve happened.”

Jamie Ortega gains possession off the draw. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Jamie Ortega gains possession off the draw. Photo by Desirée Keegan

After gaining possession off the draw, junior midfielder Jamie Ortega beat out two defenders and stuffed the ball into the left side of the cage for the early advantage just 30 seconds in. She won possession off the draw again, and scoring next was junior midfielder Ava Barry. The two connected for the third goal of the game, when Ortega passed to Barry, who dumped it in up front.

“Jamie’s been doing an awesome job on defense and offense for us,” Dolson said. “She definitely leads the team in that aspect. She’s doing a great job.”

At the 20:42 mark, Commack was fouled for shooting space, and freshman midfielder Sophie Alois raced to the center of the field in front of the crease and scored to the left side for the 4-0 lead. Ortega and Barry connected for the final goal before Commack put its first point on the board, when Ortega couldn’t find an open lane and moved outside and away from a defender to be able to send a quick pass to Barry in front of the cage.

“We’re good at moving the ball around and finding the open girl quick because a defender comes on her, but on defense we could’ve crashed earlier,” Barry said.

Defense is where the Mad Dogs struggled most. Once Commack began winning possession off the draw, Middle Country wasn’t able to turn the ball over and the Cougars collected points as a result.

Sophie Alois contains after scooping up a ground ball. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Sophie Alois contains after scooping up a ground ball. Photo by Desirée Keegan

By the end of the first half, Middle Country still had a substantial lead, 11-5, and jumped out of the gate again to start the second half, scoring three unanswered goals before Commack countered at the 13:33 mark, and scored twice more to trail 14-8.

Middle Country junior midfielder Amy Hofer found the back of the cage for the Mad Dogs’ final goal of the game, but Commack scored three more.

Ortega finished the game with four goals and three assists, while Barry ended with a hat trick and two assists. Twin juniors Amanda and Rachel Masullo added two goals apiece, and Barry’s younger sister Jen, a freshman, tacked on a goal and an assist.

“We need to win, and we can’t always win by playing the way we played today,” Ortega said, who added that it’s been difficult playing without her sister, Nikki, the team’s leading scorer last season. “We lost a lot of important players from last year, but we’re still close, we’re still a family and we connect. It helps.”

Ava Barry shoots past Commack’s goalkeeper for the good goal. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Ava Barry shoots past Commack’s goalkeeper for the good goal. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Her coach is still seeing improvement though, as the mixed team, with seven freshmen and seven juniors, looks to reach the county finals level that last year’s did.

“They definitely have been growing and going in the right direction,” Dolson said. “Today, I think, was a little bit of a setback, but hopefully we’ll pick up from this in practice tomorrow and get ready for Northport on Thursday. They’re going to come with very aggressive defense. We need to handle that pressure and we have to put together a whole game.”

Middle Country takes on Northport Thursday at 4 p.m.

Barry said that if her Mad Dogs can limit the turnovers, get to the ground balls and continue to work on the draws, they’d have a good shot against Northport.

“I feel pretty strongly,” she said. “If we practice hard tomorrow and we warm up strong, we’ll play a better game.”

Middle Country's Solyman Hatami connects with the ball. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Despite wind-whipped conditions, the Middle Country boys’ tennis team managed to pull out its second win of the season over Port Jefferson, 5-2, to earn the No. 3 spot in League VI behind undefeated Longwood and Mount Sinai.

The Mad Dogs, at 2-1, fell 7-0 to Longwood last week, and the Royals, at 1-5, had their hands full again with Middle County, as Port Jefferson fell to its opponent, 4-3, in the season opener.

Port Jefferson head coach Dennis Christofor said the weather made a win difficult, but added that his team has played in worse conditions before, just last week against Comsewogue.

“It’s a matter of who gets more first serves in the box — and they don’t even have to be hard,” he said. “The faster you can get the ball to the other guy’s backhand the faster you’re going to win the point, because at this level, they tend to have weaker backhands than forehands.”

Nick Kafeiti sends the ball over the net in his doubles match. Photo by Bill Landon
Nick Kafeiti sends the ball over the net in his doubles match. Photo by Bill Landon

Port Jefferson sophomore Eli Doyle had his hands full as he battled Middle Country sophomore Brandon Kittle. He won the first set 4-6, but dropped sets two and three, 6-2.

“In conditions like these consistency is the key,” Doyle said. “[You need to be] placing the ball away from your opponent.”

Middle Country senior and four year varsity player Solyman Hatami won his match, defeating his opponent 2-1.

“You need to take into consideration the elements — the wind direction and the chill factor,” Hatami said. “In addition to the athletic aspect, tennis is a very skill-based sport and part of that skill is thinking.”

Port Jefferson junior Nick Kafeiti said each end of the court presented difficult conditions.

“You have to adapt to it — knowing the wind direction makes you play the ball differently,” he said. “We did OK today.”

Middle Country head coach Mike Steinberg was most impressed by seventh-grader Alejandro Perez, whose presence on the court, he said, is well beyond his years.

“It’s one of those sports that when you start young, it’s such an advantage over someone who just picks up the racket for the first time,” he said.

But Christofor said two of his juniors, who have picked up the racket for the very first time this season, have been instrumental in bringing team strategy to an otherwise individual sport.

Alejandro Perez serves the ball. Photo by Bill Landon
Alejandro Perez serves the ball. Photo by Bill Landon

“Nick Kafeiti and Dan Strehle play football and soccer,” he said. “They already have that team mentality and are able to infuse that here. They’ve taught some of the other players that are one-sport athletes how to communicate and to identify their opponents’ weakness, and more importantly, how to exploit that. And that’s a big thing with our team being so young.”

Port Jefferson’s roster is made up of two seventh-graders, two eight-graders, two ninth-graders and five tenth-graders. The team has just five upperclassmen, and Kafeiti and Strehle are two of them.

Middle Country sophomore Zachary Ferrari, who plays football for Newfield, agreed that the conditions were the biggest challenge.

“When you play in this wind it’s very hard to keep the ball inbounds, so it is frustrating at times,” he said. “And we worked on it.”

Struggling to keep the ball in play, Middle Country junior Tyler Berns said he needed to overestimate his shots to compensate for the wind, and put more topspin on the ball. He and his doubles partner, sophomore Joe Cunningham, won both sets, but Berns said he knows he needs to keep a level head.

“Coach is always telling us that tennis is such a mental game,” he said. “You can’t get too confident with today’s win because you never know who you’re going to face next.”

Middle Country hits the road to take on Mount Sinai today, at 4 p.m., while Port Jefferson hosts Mount Sinai tomorrow at 4 p.m.

Middle Country's Ashley Miller stands poised and ready to make a save in a previous contest against Northport. File photo by Desirée Keegan

Ashley Miller has been a part of two undefeated girls’ lacrosse seasons in Middle Country school district’s history, and as she moves on to play at Dowling College, she will have the opportunity to add another to her resume.

“It feels great to look back at what I’ve accomplished,” the now former Middle Country goalkeeper said. “I remember in eighth grade my middle school lacrosse team went undefeated and to have both my high school and middle school careers end undefeated is a good feeling.”

This past season, the Mad Dogs went 14-0 in Division I before falling to West Islip, 11-10, in double overtime in the Suffolk County finals. It was the first time the varsity team went undefeated and was the furthest the team had made it in the postseason. In 2014, Middle Country fell in the semifinals to the same West Islip team, 12-11, with one second left on the clock.

Middle Country's Ashley Miller watches the play downfield. File photo by Desirée Keegan
Middle Country’s Ashley Miller watches the play downfield. File photo by Desirée Keegan

Being in goal, Miller has been the last line of defense for both undefeated seasons and as she has gotten older, her skills have only improved. As a starter in goal for the last two seasons, head coach Lindsay Dolson noted the advances she saw.

“She definitely has come a long way and has improved her skills so much and worked really hard to get there,” she said. “We felt confident in her. She’s worked really hard and done all the extra work to get to where she is today. She came up with big saves for us.”

Dolson also pointed out that Miller was part of the reason the team was so successful the last two years and made it as far as they had.

“If you don’t have a good goalie in the cage there’s not a lot that you can do to stop people from scoring, especially in girls lacrosse, so she helped us become the team that we are today,” she said. “Ashley was a great player and very coachable. Anything we wanted to try, she was always willing to do it.”

Miller started out playing lacrosse with her cousins when she was young, but wasn’t interested in the sport at first. Not on an official team until seventh grade, she used the sport as a way to stay athletic and make new friends. According to her father, Butch, she played field hockey and lacrosse in junior high but switched to lacrosse in high school because she had more of a passion for the sport.

“She picked it up in middle school and was always a determined individual,” he said. “Whatever she starts, she follows through. She doesn’t give up, she’s not a quitter and she gives it her all.”

Middle Country's Ashley Miller races away from the cage to send the ball into play. File photo by Desirée Keegan
Middle Country’s Ashley Miller races away from the cage to send the ball into play. File photo by Desirée Keegan

Miller learned a lot of the basics in seventh and eighth grade and as she moved up to the high school level, she played year-round with off-season practices and winter and summer leagues. She was pulled up to the varsity team during the playoffs when she was a freshman and remained on the team, starting between the pipes her junior and senior year.

“The team was really close, we all got along really well and it was interesting how I was able to build up so quickly and pick up the game so fast and to be able to get pulled up to varsity early,” she said. “We became really close and it felt great to be a part of that and experience that, because it was the best team I’d ever been on. It meant a lot to be able to play such a major role.”

Miller’s father said his daughter was always interested in playing locally and was thrilled with her decision to play at Dowling.

“It’s hard to put into words how amazing it is that her hard work is paying off for her,” he said. “She’s done a lot for herself and it’s made her a better person. I’m very proud to be her father. All of her dedication earned her a scholarship and there are a lot of doors that have now been opened for her. I want her to strive to be the best and never settle; always reach for the stars.”

The Dowling freshman will be competing against three other goalkeepers for the starting position and hopes to be able to make an immediate impact on the team.

“One of my goals is to never stop improving, but I also want to try to get a starting position,” she said, laughing. “I love the sport, it helps you get out there and meet new people and it also helps you take your stress out and just have fun. I learned how to push myself through the sport, be a good team member and to be the best that I can be.”

by -
0 180
Middle Country's Jamie Ortega gets a shot past the goalkeeper. File photo by Bill Landon

The Middle Country girls’ lacrosse team is ranked No. 6 in the nation, according to LaxPower.

The Mad Dogs finished the season with an undefeated 14-0 mark in Division I, and only lost one game the entire year, ending with an 18-1 record.

The girls made it past the semifinal roadblock it hit last season, but fell to the same team that eliminated them, West Islip, in the Suffolk County Class A finals.

Senior midfielder and attack Nikki Ortega led the team with 64 goals and 64 assists for 128 points, and her younger sister Jamie followed close behind, with 113 points off 78 goals and 25 assists.

Nikki Ortega led Suffolk County in points, while her younger sister was fifth in the standings.

Other Long island teams also found spots in the Top 10 of the national rankings. Mount Sinai is in the No. 3 spot, while Manhasset is right behind Middle Country, in seventh.

Middle Country also ranks second behind No. 1 Mount Sinai in the East regional ratings, according to LaxPower.

While the Mad Dogs will graduate six seniors this month, many of the core offensive threats will be returning to the nationally-ranked team next season.

This year’s Class A playoff game looked a lot like last season’s semifinal matchup, as the Middle Country girls’ lacrosse team and West Islip remained tied nearing the end of regulation. However, this time the game went into overtime, but the result was still the same: West Islip came out on top.

“It’s a little bittersweet now that the seniors are gone and to end it like this,” Middle Country head coach Lindsay Dolson said. “We knew what we had to do, and unfortunately we came up a little bit short. They were the better team today.”

Last season, the Mad Dogs went 12-6 overall with a 10-4 mark in Division I, and lost to the Lions, 12-11, with one second left in regulation. This year, the girls improved those records to 18-1 and 14-0, but little did they know they’d be squaring off against the same Lions squad. This time around, the stakes were that much higher, as Middle Country was just one goal away from winning the school’s first Suffolk County title with minutes left in regulation.

“They’re a great group of kids,” Dolson said of her team. “I know they wouldn’t quit on us, and they fought until the bitter end.”

West Islip dominated the draw early and rattled off three unanswered goals in the first three minutes of play before Middle Country won its first draw, and converted that possession into points.

With 21:51 remaining, senior midfielder and attack Nikki Ortega dumped the ball in front off an assist from sophomore midfielder Rachel Masullo, but the Lions won the next possession and grabbed an offensive rebound for a goal and a 4-1 advantage.

West Islip tacked on another goal before sophomore midfielder Jamie Ortega scored to cut the deficit, 5-2.
Rachel Masullo’s twin sister Amanda, also a sophomore midfielder, scored next off a free position goal, and Nikki Ortega found the back of the net after receiving a backwards pass that caused some confusion in front of the net, to pull her team within one, 5-4.

With 7:12 remaining in the first half, Nikki Ortega passed the ball from the left goalside to sophomore attack Ava Barry, whose goal tied the game, 5-5.

Two minutes later, West Islip broke the tie, and the teams traded goals once more, with Nikki Ortega tallying her hat trick goal off a free position shot to tie the game. But, West Islip maintained the advantage, 7-6, heading into the halftime break.

Jamie Ortega scored two goals in the second half, while Rachel Masullo added another off an assist from Barry to tie the game 9-9 with 7:17 left to play, but neither team was able to score from there, forcing two three-minute overtime periods with no sudden-death victory.

Senior midfielder Christine Gironda won the first draw in overtime, which led to Jamie Ortega’s fourth goal of the game off another assist by Barry to give the Mad Dogs their first and only lead of the game.

With 20.8 seconds left in the first overtime session, West Islip scored to tie it up 10-10, and with 2:18 left in the second three-minute span, scored again, to take the lead, which it preserved despite several Middle Country attempts at an equalizer.

While the team looses six seniors to graduation — with Nikki Ortega, Gironda, and goalkeeper Ashley Miller being impactful players on the three sections of the field — the Mad Dogs will return a significant amount of its goal-scorers next season. They will look to continue the progression in the hopes of taking its postseason game another step further and claim the county title.

“It’s been great,” Dolson said of working with the departing seniors. “They work hard and they gave it everything that they’ve got. They’ll be tough to replace next year, but I’m positive that we’re going to come back the same strong Middle Country team.”

by -
0 137
Middle Country's Jamie Ortega beats out the Sachem East goalkeeper for a goal. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

After not playing for a week and a half, the Middle Country girls’ lacrosse team showed no signs of cobwebs. After a bye week, the top-seeded team in Division I easily outscored Sachem East, 16-4, Tuesday.

Middle Country's Amanda Masullo shoots through Sachem East traffic. Photo by Bill Landon
Middle Country’s Amanda Masullo shoots through Sachem East traffic. Photo by Bill Landon

“Considering we haven’t played in a week and a half, we came out and played the best game we’ve played so far,” Amanda Masullo said. “We played two complete halves today. Sometimes we get tired in the second half, but today we just kept going.”

Middle Country took command of the game from the opening draw, and the Mad Dogs broke out to an 8-0 lead midway through the first half, with the Ortega sisters, Nikki and Jamie, leading the way with two goals each. Sophomores Amanda Masullo and her twin sister Rachel, Ava Barry and senior Alison DiPaola added a goal apiece.

Sachem East lit up the scoreboard for the first time at the 4:41 mark, but midfielder Jamie Ortega scored again two minutes later, for her hat trick goal.

By the halftime break, Middle Country had tacked on four more goals for a 12-1 advantage.

“With the bye week, we had to stay consistent,” senior goalkeeper Ashley Miller said. “We practiced at game level and at game speed, so we could handle whatever they threw at us today. We played well in the second half, we kept up our intensity and we stayed focused because it’s easy to sit back and relax, but we didn’t.”

The scoring fest continued in the second half when Barry served one to Nikki Ortega for her hat trick goal, to break out to a 13-1 advantage. Soon after, the senior struck again, this time off a feed from Rachel Masullo.

Alison DiPaola moves the ball up the field for Middle Country. Photo by Bill Landon
Alison DiPaola moves the ball up the field for Middle Country. Photo by Bill Landon

“We had a harder schedule towards the end [of the regular season], so the bye week really helped us, because we definitely needed a rest,” Nikki Ortega said.

Middle Country passed the ball crisply and cleanly as they circled the cage looking for an opening. Amanda Masullo found one, and passed to Jamie Ortega on the cut. She drilled home her shot to give her team a 15-1 advantage.

Sachem East still had some life left in them, and managed three unanswered goals in the last 10 minutes of the game. The clock continued to run uninterrupted, and Nikki Ortega drove home the last goal of the afternoon, to put the playoff win into the record books.

“I thought we did an awesome job on our draw control today and when you control the draw, you control the game,” Middle Country head coach Lindsay Dolson said. “Our defense did an outstanding job to hold that team to only four goals. “We’ll work hard, stay focused and watch film to get ready for Smithtown West.”

After crosstown rival and No. 5-seed Smithtown West topped No. 4 Smithtown East Tuesday, the Bulls will get a rematch to avenge a loss at the hands of Middle Country in the Mad Dogs’ last game of the regular season. The semifinal playoff match will take place Friday at Newfield, at 4 p.m.

“We’ll need to be mentally prepared for the next round and forget that we’re undefeated,” Nikki Ortega said. “This is the playoffs. There are no second chances, so our next game is our whole season and we can’t let up.”

Middle Country’s Christine Gironda races Smithtown West’s Natalie Lynch for the ground ball off the draw in the Mad Dogs’ 17-13 win over the Bulls on May 8. With the win, Middle Country goes undefeated in regular season play. Photo by Desirée Keegan

The Middle Country girls’ lacrosse team has made history, finishing a perfect season Friday with a 17-13 win over Smithtown West, to go undefeated for the first time in district history.

“The girls played awesome today, and honestly, at practice yesterday, we didn’t even talk about being undefeated,” Middle Country head coach Lindsay Dolson said. “These girls are smart, great lacrosse players. I don’t do much but steer the ship. Now we’re back to 0-0, and let the playoffs begin.”

Middle Country’s Nikki Ortega gains possession of the ball in the Mad Dogs’ zone, in her team’s 17-13 win over Smithtown West on May 8. With the win, Middle Country finished the regular season undefeated at 16-0, with a 14-0 mark in Division I. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Middle Country’s Nikki Ortega gains possession of the ball in the Mad Dogs’ zone, in her team’s 17-13 win over Smithtown West on May 8. With the win, Middle Country finished the regular season undefeated at 16-0, with a 14-0 mark in Division I. Photo by Desirée Keegan

The victory places the team first in Division I.

The Mad Dogs were off to a strong start as usual, lighting up the scoreboard and rattling off seven unanswered goals before Smithtown West midfielder Mackenzie Heldberg, a junior, put the Bulls’ first point on the board. Each team scored four more goals in the first half, to bring the score to 11-5 heading into the break.

“Every game we’re growing, we’re coming together and our chemistry is amazing on and off the field,” senior midfielder and attack Nikki Ortega said. “We’re best friends off the field, and it really shows when we play on the field. I’m so proud of the team, and it’s really all come together.”

Ortega got the ball rolling in the second half after senior goalkeeper Ashley Miller made a big save. Ortega passed the ball to classmate Allison DiPaola, who knocked a shot in early for the 12-5 advantage.

Senior midfielder Christine Gironda continued to aid the Mad Dogs in gaining possession off the draw, which helped her team continue to score and maintain its lead.

“Momentum is everything in this game, and winning the draws gave us so much more momentum and really put us up,” Ortega said.

Ortega continued a series of strong assists when she passed the ball to her younger sister, Jamie, a sophomore midfielder, and Miller followed with two saves to keep the Bulls at bay.

Middle Country’s Amanda Masullo squeezes between Smithtown West’s Kalya Kosubinsky and Katie Aldrich as she moves the ball up the field in the Mad Dogs’ 17-13 win over the Bulls on May 8. With the win, Middle Country goes undefeated in regular season play. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Middle Country’s Amanda Masullo squeezes between Smithtown West’s Kalya Kosubinsky and Katie Aldrich as she moves the ball up the field in the Mad Dogs’ 17-13 win over the Bulls on May 8. With the win, Middle Country goes undefeated in regular season play. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“That’s not how they play — they were definitely intimidated, without a doubt,” Smithtown West head coach Carie Bodo said of her team. “I think they put so much pressure on themselves, but in the second half, they were pissed, and they came out and played, and we outscored [Middle Country] in the second half.”

It took a little while for the Bulls to find their groove, and after Nikki Ortega scored off an assist from her younger sister to make the score 16-6 with 15:45 left to play, Smithtown West came back to score five unanswered goals — two by sophomore midfielder Kayla Kosubinsky — and force Middle Country to call a timeout.

“I think in the second half we really stepped it up,” Kosubinsky said. “I think we needed to figure out what we needed to do quicker in the game before there wasn’t much time left, but these girls are amazing and every person has their own role on this team and I think we all work so good together.”

The Mad Dogs regrouped in their huddle.

“This’ll show how much you want it,” Nikki Ortega said to her team. “If we want it, we’ll win.”

Jamie Ortega dished the ball to DiPaola for her hat trick goal, and although the Bulls tacked on two more to end the scoring for the game, Miller made two more stops, leaving the Mad Dogs with an undefeated season at 16-0 with a 14-0 mark in conference play.

Middle Country’s Jamie Ortega shoots the ball over a swarm of Smithtown West players in her team’s 17-13 win over the Bulls on May 8. With the win, the Mad Dogs finished the regular season undefeated at 16-0, with a 14-0 mark in Division I. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Middle Country’s Jamie Ortega shoots the ball over a swarm of Smithtown West players in her team’s 17-13 win over the Bulls on May 8. With the win, the Mad Dogs finished the regular season undefeated at 16-0, with a 14-0 mark in Division I. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“Once you have your first save down you have the adrenaline to keep going,” Miller said. “We all try to stay positive and we don’t get down on each other, but bring each other up. I feel like we have good motion going on, and we’re going to keep it going.”

Nikki Ortega finished the game with four goals and five assists, while Jamie Ortega also finished with nine points, off five goals and four assists. Behind DiPaola’s hat trick was sophomore Ava Barry and eighth-grader Sophie Alois with two goals. Sophomore midfielder Amanda Masullo tacked on a goal and an assist, and her twin sister Rachel rounded out the scoring with an assist, while Miller finished with a game-high eight saves.

“It’s something I never dreamed of ever doing,” Nikki Ortega said of going undefeated. “Although it puts a lot of pressure on us for playoffs, it’s the most incredible feeling.”

She feels her team still needs to work on being more composed, especially when its opponent applies pressure and comes back in a game. However, she thinks her team has what it takes to go further than its semifinal appearance last season.

“We have to keep our heads up,” she said. “Every game I play like it’s my last. This is how I’d want to end my season and my career at Middle Country. I think if there was any year that we could go all the way, it’s this year.”