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Kaeli Huff scores six goals to lead Eastport-South Manor to 'B' state title

Eastport-South Manor's Kaeli Huff, center, splits the defense

Eastport-South Manor's Kaeli Huff, center, splits the defense of Somers' Nicole Demase, left, and Nina Bradbury during the NYSPHSAA Class B girls lacrosse final at SUNY-Cortland on Saturday, June 6, 2015. Eastport-South Manor won the Class B title with a 15-8 win over Somers. Credit: Adrian Kraus

Toward the end of the season, each member of the Eastport-South Manor girls lacrosse began writing the number of a fellow teammate on their leg. Just as a reminder.

"All year long, we've been playing for each other," coach Becky Thorn said. "It's not an individualized sport. If we make a mistake, you know that you always have a teammate to back you up."

So it was no surprise to hear that after junior Kaeli Huff erupted for a season-high six goals in the program's first state title win -- a 15-8 victory over Somers in the Class B championship -- she gave all the praise to her teammates.

"I can't thank my teammates enough," Huff said. "Everything I do is because of my teammates. A stop on defense, a draw control, an assist. I have to thank them all for that."

Team cohesiveness played a major role in Eastport-South Manor's championship run, which seemed improbable from the onset. Class B has become synonymous with Manhasset and Garden City -- two teams that had accounted for eight of the last nine Class crowns entering this season. In fact, at this year's annual NYSPHSAA "Banquet of Champions" on June 4, where all 12 teams are listed that qualified for the state tournament, Eastport-South Manor is not. Instead, "Manhasset Indians" is mistakenly written.

"We knew we were underestimated all season," Huff said, "but I think that actually really helped us in the end. Motivated us."

Huff needed just seven minutes to score her first three goals. Sophomore Kaitlyn Dowsett followed with a goal off an assist from senior Allyson Tolken to give the Sharks a 4-0 lead with 15:16 left in the first half. Eastport-South Manor ended the first on a 3-0 run thanks to two goals by Kaeli's younger sister, sophomore Kelsey Huff, and one from eighth-grader Kasey Choma.

Eighth-grader Jaime Biskup scored twice and freshman Hannah Kenneally had one goal for the Sharks. Samantha Giacolone, a six-year starter who is committed to Notre Dame and who Thorn called "the heartbeat" of the team, made nine saves.

"We've been trying to make our mark for the longest time," Giacolone said. "Doing it my senior year, with these girls and just proving to people that Eastport-South Manor does exist, we are a great team and we can compete with a Garden City, a Manhasset, a Wantagh, and good upstate teams, it's amazing. It's amazing to leave that mark on my school."

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