CORTLAND, N.Y. — This was Olivia Carner’s game.
With the confidence of coach Carol Rainson-Rose and the rest of the Northport girls lacrosse team, the senior took over Saturday afternoon’s state Class A championship game at SUNY Cortland.
Carner had five goals, one assist and caused a key turnover with 1:09 left, willing Northport to a 10-8 win over Baldwinsville. It’s the program’s first state championship since 2011.
“This was her best game of the year,” Rainson-Rose said. “I told her to have ice in her veins and just go for it. She took over, and that’s what we needed. We needed the senior leader to take over in the big game, and she did it.”
With the score tied at 5 nearing the end of the first half, Ella Cabrera and Kaylie Mackiewicz scored for Northport (21-1), giving the Tigers a two-goal lead against a polished Baldwinsville team.
The Bees cut Northport’s lead to 7-6 early in the second half, but Carner provided insurance. She assisted Danielle Pavinelli before scoring herself a minute later, putting Northport ahead 9-6 with 19:40 to play. Her free position with 11:57 left represented the final tally of the game.
As each side jockeyed for possession — Baldwinsville to score and Northport to kill clock — Carner continued to leave her mark. Trailing 10-8 with under two minutes remaining, Baldwinsville caused a turnover and raced down the field. Carner, who switches between attack and midfield, raced to meet the ballcarrier on defense.
“I looked at the clock and there was a [1:30] left,” Carner said. “I just said, ‘If this is going to be it, I’m going to give it my all. I have to get the ball back.’ There was no way I was going to let them score a goal and come back on us.”
Carner executed a well-timed check and scooped the ground ball, ending the threat and Baldwinsville’s chances.
“She’s our rock,” Pavinelli said. “Every game, when we know she’s in there, we know we’re winning this game. She just leads us out there. We can count on her for everything.”
Having lost in the Suffolk Class A championship game in two consecutive seasons, Northport was motivated to finish the job for its six seniors.
“I’ve been on this team since seventh grade,” said goalkeeper Claire Morris, who made three saves. “This was like the only thing I’ve ever wanted. It’s pretty amazing to come out here with my best friends and win.”
“Everything was worth it,” defender Chloe Hoschel said. “I think that everything since we’ve been playing together in first grade has just come full circle. This was our year.”
This season, Northport rallied around a banner that read, “Unfinished business.” After beating Baldwinsville, the banner had red tape in an X covering two letters.