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Claire Morris backstops Northport to Suffolk Class A lacrosse title

Northport's Claire Morris makes one of her 10

Northport's Claire Morris makes one of her 10 saves against Middle Country on the way to the Suffolk Class A title.  Photo Credit: Daniel De Mato

Claire Morris knows all too well the pressures and expectations that come with playing for the Northport girls lacrosse team, one of the premier programs on Long Island.

With six years of varsity experience, Morris knows more about the recent county title drought than any of her teammates. On Thursday night under gray skies at Farmingdale State, Morris was key in bringing a championship back to Northport.

The senior goalkeeper made 10 saves to keep in check the high-octane offense of top-seeded Middle Country, as No. 2 Northport earned the Suffolk Class A championship with a 13-7 win. Kaylie Mackiewicz had four goals and one assist, Natalie Miller had three goals and one assist, and Danielle Pavinelli had two goals and four assists.

Northport (18-1) — which won its first county title since 2011 and its 12th in program history — will play Farmingdale in the Long Island Class A championship game at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Adelphi in a battle of two of the most decorated programs on the Island.

Morris said that losing two years in a row in the county championship game helped fuel her team’s performance, using it as extra motivation. Middle Country entered averaging 12.8 goals per game, but Morris denied much of what came her way.

“We’re just really communicating and making sure they don’t have good shots,” said Morris, crediting defenders Chloe Hoschel, Bella Hubbard, Caroline Fitzgerald, Lindsay Lindvall and Ella Cabrera. “My defenders push them out to the sides so they’re not getting right on top of me with those shots.”

After Mackiewicz assisted Cabrera for a 9-3 Northport lead early in the second half, Middle Country (16-3) showed life. Sydney Juvelier (four goals) scored twice in under three minutes, cutting the deficit to 9-5 with 12:07 remaining.

Over the next seven minutes, Mackiewicz and Pavinelli connected three times on the same play, giving Northport a commanding 12-5 lead. As Pavinelli rolled behind the cage, Mackiewicz streaked toward the crease to receive the pass.

“I think we just see each other, and when she’s coming around, I split the defender and cut,” Mackiewicz said. “She always hits me, and it’s just there.”

Contributions from players like Mackiewicz, a freshman, will be integral in the Long Island championship game.

“We’re used to play in high-pressure games,” Morris said. “We’re ready for it.”

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