CORTLAND, N.Y. - Each time the Eastport-South Manor Sharks have taken the field in 2015, they've done so with a particular thought in the back of their minds. This is their last year with Samantha Giacolone.
The goalie, who has been on the team since seventh grade and is committed to Notre Dame, is the oldest player on the roster. Just as they have all season, in a state Class B girls lacrosse semifinal against Watertown on Friday, the Sharks played for Giacolone.
"I don't think I can put into words how incredible she is for us," midfielder Kaeli Huff said. "She comes up with point-blank saves that are huge for us. Those are game-changing. Completely game-changing. I know that she's wanted this since seventh grade. It couldn't be happening to a better person."
Giacolone and the Sharks' defense held Watertown, a team averaging just over 14 goals this season, to its lowest output of the year in their 13-6 win.
"We're always going to play for her," midfielder Kasey Choma said. "We're all honored to play with Sam. We wanted to win so bad for her and we're moving on for her."
Eastport-South Manor (18-3) will play Somers at 2:30 p.m. Saturday as it vies for its first state title.
The Sharks built an early 5-0 lead thanks in part to the Huff sisters. Kaeli (four goals) scored in the game's first minute and Kelsey (two goals, one assist) found the back of the net less than three minutes later. Kaeli Huff scored again with 19:45 left in the first half and Choma (three goals, one assist) and Laura Kesnig (one goal, three assists) each added a goal during the run.
Kaitlyn Dowsett had two goals and two assists for the Sharks, who took a 6-2 lead into the break.
"We didn't want a close game," said Giacolone, who is a member of the U.S. Lacrosse Under-19 squad. "We've had 7-6, 11-10 games. We didn't want that. We wanted to come out and just destroy.
"Having these girls my senior year is amazing. They're my family. They're all my little sisters. They say they play for me . . . Well, I play for them."