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Samantha Blair scores winner for West Islip in LI Class A title game

West Islip celebrates its win in the Long

West Islip celebrates its win in the Long Island Class A finals on Sunday at Islip. Credit: Bob Sorensen

The road to the Long Island championship was paved with close calls over familiar foes for the West Islip girls lacrosse team.

So it made sense that their matchup against Massapequa would be a thriller.

Samantha Blair scored off a free position shot with 20 seconds remaining in the second half of overtime to lead the Lions to a 6-5 victory over Massapequa in the Class A Long Island championship Sunday at Islip High School.

“I think in games like this we really cherish possessions and make sure that when we have the ball we find the best options,” Blair said. “On defense we know we really have to pressure the ball even more.”

The Lions wouldn’t have made it to overtime without goalkeeper Lauren DiStefano, who stopped 13 shots, many of them at point-blank range late in the game and in overtime.

“Lauren is incredible and she really stepped up this year,” Blair said. “Without her we wouldn’t be where we are now.”

They also wouldn’t be here without Danielle Marino, who scored three first-half goals, and Jade Hampel, who took a pass 20 yards from her own goal and sprinted the length of the field for the tying goal with 1:03 remaining in regulation.

“I just saw an opening down the field because all the defense was pushed to the restraining line so I got the ball and booked it down the field,” Hampel said. “I ran as fast as I could and I got off a good shot and scored.”

It was another one-goal postseason win over a team they lost to in the regular season, including an overtime win over Smithtown West in a Suffolk quarterfinal and wins over Ward Melville and Northport in a semifinal and the Suffolk championship.

“We called this the whole time our ‘Revenge tour,’ ” DiStefano said. “We lost to all these teams but we knew these were our games and we wanted them.”

Both teams played great defense and Massapequa goalie Sophia Cardello anchored a stout Massapequa unit, making five big saves.

Erin Tierney, also a strong defender, led Massapequa (12-5) with two goals.

“We knew this was going to be a low scoring game,” DiStefano said. “We’ve been in this position before in overtime in the playoffs so we knew what it took to win.”

Now it’s on to SUNY Cortland where the Lions (15-5) will play Christian Brothers Academy in a state semifinal 1 p.m. Friday.

“These kids never give up,” West Islip coach Joe Nicolosi said. “Just the attention they have to understand what you have to do to win a big game is amazing. This team never gives up.”

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