It was a contrast in styles, one team meticulous and patient, another aggressive and quick. Both philosophies had worked to a point -- the Suffolk Class A girls lacrosse semifinals, to be specific.
But only one would advance and, after 50 minutes of virtually even play, it was the aggressive ones, second-seeded host West Islip, which topped the meticulous ones, third-seeded Northport, 9-8, Friday.
Emily Picciullo scored four goals for West Islip (15-3). Emily Beier added three goals and one assist. And goalie Lauren Distefano made seven saves.
"We're used to pushing on offense," West Islip's Chelsea Sorahan said. "Our defense had to take their time, watch the ball, watch their player, and be strong."
That strength resulted in a return trip to the Class A final, where they will face top-seeded Middle Country at 3 p.m. Tuesday at Dowling College.
West Islip's aggressive, pushing style proved victorious, but the verdict was still out at halftime. An Olivia Carner goal with 1:25 left in the first half gave Northport a 5-4 lead entering the break.
"We had to step it up and come in as hard as we could in the second half," Picciullo said. "We had to have good cuts and good shots."
And once the second half started, all of those things started almost instantly. Beier tied the score at 5 just 24 seconds into the second half and West Islip was off and running.
"It was good to get it quick," Beier said of the tying tally. "We stopped Northport's momentum . . . To put a goal in got us back into our rhythm."
Beier scored again with 19:35 left to break the tie. Half a minute later, Sorahan made an athletic move from 2 yards off a feed from Vanessa Costantino, putting the ball in while standing perpendicular to the net and giving West Islip a 7-5 lead.
"It was a beautiful assist from Vanessa," Sorahan said.
The West Islip second-half onslaught continued when Picciullo scored with 12 minutes left, increasing the lead to 8-5.
"We did everything right in the second half," Picciullo said.
That included adopting a little bit of their counterparts' style, holding the ball. Northport cut the lead to 9-8 with 1:16 left. West Islip gained possession on the next faceoff and was able to run out the clock.
"They kept coming, but we kept looking at the clock as it was going down," Picciullo said. "We just kept saying 'counties, counties, we want it.' When that clock hit zero, we all just went insane."