ALBANY — For the Northport boys lacrosse team, winning a state championship isn’t just a goal or a mission. It’s a cause.
The Tigers were a behemoth last season when they won the Long Island Class A championship. However, that team never got to play for the state title because the New York State Public High School Athletic Association didn’t hold a tournament because of the coronavirus pandemic. So as Northport coach Larry Cerasi explained, “a championship this season would be for this team and for that one.”
The Tigers took the penultimate step on Wednesday when they scored the first four goals of their state semifinal and then kept Section I champion Scarsdale at arm’s length in a 13-9 triumph at the University of Albany’s Bob Ford Field. The Raiders never cut the margin to less than two.
“Not getting to play for a state tournament brought us into this season a little angry,” said senior Michael Meyer, who had three goals and four assists to lead the way.. “But with what we thought might be an even stronger team this season we thought a championship this season would [speak] for that team, too.”
Northport (20-1), which is going for its second state title and first since 2001, will meet Baldwinsville of Section III in the state championship game at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday at Hofstra.
One reason Northport might see this edition as even better than the last is newcomer Jack Deliberti. The Tigers freshman took four shots against the Raiders (14-8) and scored on all four. William Murphy and Tim Kirchner each added two goals and Matt Webb and Patrick Sweeney scored one apiece. Jacob Starcke added a pair of assists for Northport.
“Whenever I draw a double team, he almost always finds a way to get open,” Meyer said of Deliberti. “He has a knack for finding the open spaces.”
The opening flurry by Northport started with Andrew Miller forcing a Raider turnover, leading a break and then finding Meyer for the finish. About a minute later it was Kirchner beating Scarsdale goalie Andrew Lehrman and a minute after that it was Webb scoring off a feed from Starcke. When Meyer scored on a sweeping shot into the bottom of the net, it was 4-0 just 5:44 into the contest.
Scarsdale closed to within 4-2, but Meyer found Deliberti and then Sweeney for goals in the last 38 seconds of the quarter to boost the margin to four. Murphy scored his two goals and Deliberti his second in a 3-0 burst that bridged the second and third quarters for a 9-3 lead.
Deliberti scored twice in a span of 1;15 in the middle fo the third for an 11-5 margin. The Tigers did such a nice job of keeping the Raiders from attacking in the fourth quarter and it never got closer than 12-9 with 2:45 to play on Graydon Diamond’s second goal.
“Our offense might be more known, but our defense can also win games,” Meyer said. “The defense was great at the end.”
Added Murphy: “We felt like we got robbed a little last year. Now we have an opportunity to win it all and the way we’re playing, we feel we can get it done.”