Sophia Bica and her teammates could see the window of opportunity to cement their place in Northport field hockey history slowly closing.
Trailing by a goal entering the fourth quarter, and with the program’s first-ever county title on the line, the Tigers suddenly pounced right through that window and never looked back.
"We talked to each other going into the fourth quarter," Bica, a senior midfielder said. "And we said, ‘Do whatever we can to win.’ Once we got that spark we rolled and went from there."
Bica provided that spark with a game-tying goal with 11:30 remaining, followed by Olivia McKenna’s go-ahead goal less than a minute later, as No. 2 Northport staged a furious rally in the final period to defeat No. 1 Ward Melville, 2-1, in the Suffolk Class A final at Centereach on Thursday.
"This is surreal," said McKenna, who fought her way through a crowded pack in front of the goal for the difference-maker. "We’ve worked so hard for this all season. The whole team has been amazing all season and to come out on top is so nice."
The Tigers (15-1) will take on Garden City in the Long Island Class A championship at Berner Middle School in Massapequa AT 2 p.m. on Saturday.
After a scoreless first half, Jess Winslow opened the scoring with 4:29 left in the third to give Ward Melville a 1-0 advantage.
"After going down a goal we knew that no one was going to give this to us," Northport coach Gina Walling said. "We had to go out and get it. The players did a great job of keeping their heads up and staying in it. Once they got the momentum of that first goal I knew nothing was going to stop them."
Northport was ultimately the only team to defeat Ward Melville (15-2) all season. The Tigers first took down the Patriots, 1-0, back on March 26.
Though Ward Melville was down a few players in that matchup, Bica said the victory, and re-watching the game video, ultimately gave Northport the reassurance that they could come away victorious with everything at stake.
"We told ourselves it’s not impossible because the idea of winning a county championship almost sounds too good," Bica said. "But if gave us so much confidence."
After losing the county final in 2018, Walling, with tears of joy in her eyes, reflected on Northport’s historic run.
"We’ve been talking about taking risks and taking chances all season and not being afraid to go out and grab your chance," Walling said. "And they did that today. It’s amazing and I’m so happy that we brought this to Northport. I couldn’t be prouder."