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Mike Gavin

Mike Gavin joined Newsday in November of 2007 and spent nearly two years doing box scores while patiently awaiting his big break. That came when he was assigned to do the highly-popular Ducks Watch, a weekly interview with a member of the Long Island Ducks. The high school sports staff then took him in as one of their own and he has since covered girls soccer, boys basketball and other miscellaneous sports.

Mike graduated from Stony Brook University with a major in business management and a minor in journalism. He is known around the office as the “Wild Card,” but prefers that you don’t ask how the nickname originated.

Emily McNelis' OT goal a winner for Northport

Northport players celebrate their 1-0 overtime win against
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Northport players celebrate their 1-0 overtime win against Smithtown East in a Suffolk girls soccer game on Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014.(Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke)

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Emily McNelis celebrated on the sideline . . . in a sombrero.

"We get the seniors funny things for their final home game," McNelis said.

Sabrina Barton got a McDonald's gift card because she is a regular there. Alyssa Gaynor got a Starbucks cup because she drinks coffee every morning. Emily Walsh got the sombrero as a gag gift.

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"After the game," McNelis said, "they put it on me. Even though I'm only a freshman."

They did so because McNelis gave them the best senior gift of all. She scored in overtime to give Northport a 1-0 win over Smithtown East on Thursday in the League II regular-season finale.

McNelis sent a chip shot from 25 yards out on the right wing over the keeper's head and into the side netting with 7:34 left in the first overtime.

"I got the ball and I saw the goalie was up so I tried to chip it over to the left post," she said. "I thought it would curve out and someone could head it in, but it curved in."

One goal has been enough for Northport (13-1) in every win this season. The Tigers' defense -- led by Gaynor, Sammy Millmann and Stephanie Rapp -- has allowed only one goal all season, recording shutouts in 15 of 16 games.

"It's not just the defense," said Gaynor, a senior captain. "The forwards stop the attack from the beginning. We get a lot of help. But we have good communication. We know how to talk and play and cover."

It was an encouraging performance for Smithtown East (8-4), which showed that it can compete with the best team in the county.

"We had a lot of opportunities," captain Melissa Makarius said. "It was a good test and it gives us a big confidence boost going into the playoffs."

Brenna Farrington made five saves for the Tigers, who may have secured the top seed and a first-round bye in the Class AA playoffs.

So, any hard feelings that a freshman stole the show on senior day?

"Not really," Gaynor said with a laugh. "To get the win with a goal from a freshman is awesome. That's what a team is all about. She did it for us."

That's why they shared their gifts with her.

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