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Season to cherish for Northport field hockey results in program's first state title

Northport girls field hockey team pose with the

Northport girls field hockey team pose with the winners plaque, after defeating Shenendowa 1-0, Sunday, November 14, 2021, at the New York State HS Varsity Field Hockey Finals in Centereach. Credit: George A Faella

109 to 6.

That was the number of goals scored, compared with the amount given up by the Northport field hockey team during a dominant 2021 fall season. It culminated with the first state title in program history.

The Tigers capped their perfect 21-0 season and extended their winning streak to 32 games on Nov. 14 with a 1-0 victory over Section I’s Shenendehowa in the Class A state championship at Centereach High School.

Northport won both the Suffolk and Long Island ‘A’ title during the 2021 COVID-altered spring season just seven months earlier, but couldn’t go further because the state championships were canceled.

"I have been on this team for five years and I knew we had a special group coming into this season. We kept saying not done yet because we knew we weren’t done yet," senior midfielder Sophia Bica said. "We picked up right where we left off and finished it this year."

The Tigers earned their spot in the state final with a 5-0 win over Section VI’s Clarence on Nov. 13.

The match was halted in the third quarter with under six minutes remaining because of a tornado warning and inclement weather in the area. The delay lasted a little more than an hour and a half, but Northport already held a three-goal lead.

"We made sure we were having fun in the locker room and tried to not overly think about the game," junior forward/midfielder Olivia McKenna said. "When we got back on the field, we were ready to go."

On its road to a state title, Northport secured its second consecutive county championship with a 2-0 victory over Ward Melville on Nov. 2, and defended its Long Island crown five days later with a 7-0 triumph over Massapequa.

McKenna scored the 100th goal of the season for the Tigers with just under eight minutes remaining before halftime in the Long Island championship for a 4-0 lead.

"The previous program record was 65 goals (set in 2018), and they blew that out of the water," Northport coach Gina Walling said. "If they put their mind to something, they get it done."

McKenna led Long Island with 42 points (20 goals, 22 assists) and Bica was second with 41 points (19 goals, 22 assists). Shannon Smith (20 goals) and Emma McLam (19 goals) each totaled 29 points, the sixth-best on Long Island.

Goalkeeper Natalie McKenna, Olivia’s twin sister, made five saves in the state final to record her 18th shutout of the season. The Tigers outscored their opponents 26-0 in six postseason matches.

An on-field ceremony took place after the final whistle. Championship medals were awarded to each player before the state championship trophy was presented to Northport.

Walling, who was in her 14th season as head coach, knows a little bit about winning state championships. She won one as a player with Centereach in 1997 and had both medals draped around her neck.

"I said to the team all the time, I remember winning states as a high school player, but I remember the camps, the bruises, the laughs and the friendships more," Walling said. "I know they have that. We built that this season."

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