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Northport wins Suffolk Class A field hockey title, topping Ward Melville

Northport wins Suffolk Class A field hockey title, topping
Ward Melville 1

Not done yet.

Those three words are written on the warmup T-shirts of the Northport field hockey team.

Despite winning the Long Island Class A championship on April 24 during the Covid-altered spring season, the state championships were canceled, and it left the Tigers asking, what if?

“We didn’t put the sticks down after that final game. The girls played all summer long,” coach Gina Walling said. “They felt like they got robbed from COVID by not even having the opportunity to move forward and prove they can compete with the best teams in the state.”

Now, in the 2021 fall season, things are back to normal and the states are back on. Top-seeded Northport moved one step closer to securing its berth in the state semifinal by defeating No. 3 Ward Melville, 2-0, Tuesday in the Suffolk Class A final at Centereach High School.

The Tigers will face the winner of Wednesday’s Nassau A final between Massapequa and Port Washington, at 3 P.M. Sunday at Centereach in the Long Island A championship.

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Northport opened the scoring with under a minute left in the first quarter when Olivia McKenna slid a pass over to Shannon Smith, who scored. The assist was McKenna’s 19th of the season, which ranks second on Long Island behind her teammate Sophia Bica (20 assists).

McKenna put her team ahead 2-0 less than three minutes into the second quarter, as she stickhandled her way through the Ward Melville defense and fired into the back of the cage for her 17th goal of the year.

“It was difficult last year because we made it as far as we did, and knew we could have made it even further,” McKenna said. “This year we will have the chance to do so and hopefully we can get there.”

Northport improved to 18-0 and has outscored its opponents 96-6 this season. Goalkeeper Natalie McKenna (two saves), who is Olivia’s twin sister, and the Tigers’ defense allowed just two Ward Melville shots on goal and recorded their 15th shutout.

“There are no words for Natalie McKenna. She is a rock and directs the defense. The girls respect her and listen to her,” Walling said. “They work as one unit and do not let the ball get over the 25-yard line that often, but if they do, they know Natalie is there to back them up.”

Bella Ospitale did everything she could to keep the Patriots (16-3) in the game, totaling 11 saves in the loss.

“My mom called me this morning and asked how I was feeling,” Walling said. “I told her it’s like having 26 daughters that you all want to succeed. I am used to it with my own daughter. I want her to win her games, but nothing compares to watching 26 kids go out there and give it their all for one another.”

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