Sophia Bica’s 15th and final goal of the season might have been a little unorthodox, but she is not complaining.
With the Long Island Class A field hockey championship game scoreless in the third quarter, Olivia McKenna attempted to pass the ball to Bica on the left side of goal, but it deflected off a stick and popped up into the air. Bica reacted and smacked the ball out of mid-air into the back of the cage to lead Northport past Garden City, 1-0, Saturday afternoon at Berner Middle School in Massapequa.
"It’s not like I work on that very often it doesn’t happen that much, but I am very glad I got a stick on it," Bica said.
The Tigers finished the season with a 16-1 record and earned their first Long Island Class A title in program history, according to coach Gina Walling. Northport ended the Trojans' undefeated season. Garden City finished 16-1.
The Northport defense allowed just four goals allowed all season. That's a new program record, according to Walling.
The first big moment of the game came just five minutes into the first quarter when Emma McLam snuck past the Garden City defense and goalkeeper for what looked to be a wide-open net. Two Garden City defenders hustled back, dove in front of the goal, and kept the shot out.
Northport goalkeeper Natalie McKenna prevented the Trojans from taking a 1-0 lead with an remarkable save with under five minutes left in the first half. Sarah Killcommons maneuvered around the Tigers defense and found an open Kate Berkery in front. McKenna (seven saves) flew out of her goal, made the sliding pad save and kicked away the ensuing rebound.
"We have been talking about that all season long. When it’s your chance and your turn, you need to step up and take the risk, don’t be scared," Walling said. "When she went out, I knew she was getting that ball. The mental toughness that kid has is unreal."
The sophomore keeper secured the win when she made another pad save off a Garden City corner with under a minute left in the game.
"Our team did not let COVID affect us. I don’t ever remember us complaining about the masks or any restrictions we had," said Bica, who concluded her junior season with 15 goals and 11 assists. "We were willing to do anything in order to play and get out on the field. The team got so much closer this year and we have so many memories from this season. I am so glad it happened."