Northport defense Giancarlo Valenti (R) moves the ball out of...

Northport defense Giancarlo Valenti (R) moves the ball out of the zone late against Ward Melville in a Suffolk Division I lacrosse game, Friday, April 12, 2024. Credit: George A Faella

The calendar says there are four weeks left in the boys lacrosse season, but Friday’s game between Northport and Ward Melville might have had people checking their phones to make sure it was still April. The Suffolk Division I archrivals played a contest steeped with drama and intensity worthy of a playoff game.

Despite playing with the lead throughout, Northport never managed to shake the visiting Patriots. Still, they managed to earn a 10-9 victory on the strength of fourth-quarter goals by seniors Giancarlo Valenti and Luca Elmaleh.

“This was the kind of game that makes you want to reach for blood pressure medicine,” coach Billy Cordts said of the three-time defending Suffolk Class A champion Tigers (5-1, 5-1 Suffolk I). “It’s a big rivalry and going against them is like playing the Yankees because they have 10 state titles and we have just one. But this makes six straight [victories] for us against them.”

“They are our biggest rival and it’s a game that both teams circle [on the calendar], but we don’t look at them as any better than us,” junior Jack Deliberti said. “When we play them, there is pressure, but that pressure is a privilege.”

Ward Melville (4-3, 4-1) trailed by three after one quarter and by two at halftime. Northport scored the first three goals of the third quarter and led 8-3 when Deliberti netted the last of his three goals with 7:36 left in the quarter.

The Patriots responded with four unanswered goals, three by Zachary Brittman — the final coming with 6:50 remaining to cut the Tigers’ lead to 8-7.

On the ensuing faceoff, Valenti snared the ball off the turf, drove right at the goal and scored to restore the lead to two.

“When they cut it to one, it was time to be locked in,” Valenti said.

Cordts said: “A momentum-changing goal, and the kind of play I expect out of [Valenti].”

“That goal turned the tide of the game right there,” Emaleh said. “You see him get that done and it makes you want to step it up.”

And that is exactly what Elmaleh did when he put back a rebound just to the right of the Patriots’ goal for a 10-7 lead with 4:34 to play.

The Patriots responded once again and cut into the lead on Aidan Kilduff’s wraparound goal with 1:48 left. They got within 10-9 on Stephen Rosano’s goal with five seconds left, but did not have enough time for another shot.

“A good team like Ward Melville can do a lot and doesn’t need a lot of time,” Reynolds said. “When they’re coming after us, that’s when we feed off the pressure. We’re made for it.”

There were contributions all over the field for Northport. Quinn Reynolds — who played multiple positions in the contest — had a pair of goals and Logan Cash added two more for the Tigers. Emaleh added two assists and Greyson Cabrera had one assist.

“It’s nice to have a bunch of guys score goals,” Cordts said. “[Reynolds] finished in some big spots for us.”

“[Reynolds] is our Swiss Army knife because he can play everywhere,” Deliberti said. “Big game for him.”

For Ward Melville, senior Madden Murphy and juniors Benjamin Ehlers, Quinn McKay and Callan McLaughlin all had goals. Brittman added two assists.

“We may see them again in the playoffs,” Reynolds said. “We’ll be a different team by then and they will be, too. But we think we’ll be the ones to come out on top again if we meet.”


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