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SportsHigh SchoolGirls Lacrosse

Jaime Ortega’s shot forces OT, but Middle Country falls in state final

Middle Country's Jamie Ortega, left, defends against Pittsford's

Middle Country's Jamie Ortega, left, defends against Pittsford's Elizabeth Blanding during the 2017 NYSPHSAA Girls Lacrosse Championships Class A final at SUNY Cortland on Saturday, June 10, 2017. Photo Credit: Adrian Kraus

CORTLAND, N.Y. — Jamie Ortega and Ava Barry struggled at first to maintain their composure on the heels of a devastating overtime loss in the state Class A girls lacrosse final.

But after being greeted by family and friends outside the gates of SUNY Cortland’s Red Field, they were eager to talk about the comeback that made overtime even possible.

Yes, Ellie Mooney lifted Pittsford to a 10-9 win Saturday with 1:55 left in overtime on a free position at the top of the eight-meter arc, but Middle Country nearly deterred Pittsford from its first state crown.

Trailing 9-7 with 1:37 left in regulation, Middle Country forced a turnover and raced down the field. In hopes of stopping the transition opportunity, Pittsford’s Jillian Quevedo aggressively fouled and was assessed a yellow card.

Middle Country capitalized, as Rachel Masullo (three assists) fed Ava Barry cutting down the middle, bringing Middle Country within a goal.

Twenty seconds later, it was Jamie Ortega who took advantage of the player-up situation, sending a booming shot into the cage for the equalizer.

Ortega won the ensuing draw and Middle Country held for the final shot, but Pittsford’s Michelle Messenger saved a skip-shot with four seconds left to ensure overtime.

“I was starting to get upset because I thought, ‘Oh my God, this is it.’ But then I remembered that no matter how much time is left on the clock, we’re a great offensive team,” said Barry, who had three goals and two assists in her final game for Middle Country (17-4). “I know no matter what the time is, someone can score.”

Barry also made an important stick check after Pittsford won the opening draw of overtime, causing a turnover that led to a long Middle Country possession. It ended with a good look at the cage that Messenger saved for Pittsford (20-1).

“The game’s never over until the buzzer goes off,” said Ortega, who had four goals and an assist and finishes her varsity career as the state’s all-time leading point scorer with 588 points. “We know how fast we can score a goal. It could be 10 seconds.”

Extra motivation from Ortega helped fuel Middle Country’s late push. Ortega left with a yellow card with less than 4:30 remaining, but when she returned, she played with a fire that sparked the rest of the team.

“I didn’t want my last game ever to represent Middle Country end like that,” she said. “I just knew my team needed me and I needed to be there for them.”

Pittsford had led 5-2 before a 5-0 run spanning the end of the first half and the beginning of the second bookended by Ortega goals gave Middle Country a 7-5 lead. Pittsford answered with a 4-0 spurt of its own for the 9-7 lead.

“We had the greatest comeback that I think we’ve ever had, and I’m just glad we made it this far,” Barry said. “Mistakes are going to happen no matter what. No team is perfect and no game is perfect. I just think we kept working hard like we did all season.”

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