With thirty seconds on the clock, the Northport girls lacrosse team started to really sweat. Through smeared eye black, they watched as West Islip, down a goal, passed the ball upfield.
But the ball floated, hit a stick, fell to the ground and was scooped up by Tigers eighth-grader Ella Cabrera, securing Northport’s 8-7 win over West Islip in Suffolk I.
“I was so pumped because that’s my sister,” Emerson Cabrera said. “She’s never been in a high-pressure game like this and she [helped facilitate] a big comeback for us.”
A joint effort by the Cabreras helped sealed the victory. Emerson Cabrera scored her third goal, the final score of the game, with five minutes left.
“West Islip is a tough team and our first real challenge this season,” she said.
It started quick for the Tigers. They went up by three in the first 10 minutes on two goals by Olivia Carner and one by Danielle Pavinelli, which Carner assisted on.
West Islip quickly answered and tied the score at 3 on goals by Samantha Blair, Jaden Hampel and Danielle Marino.
After Emerson Cabrera scored her first goal, the Lions’ Carley Patwell tied it with two minutes left in the half.
Just before the break, Pavinelli netted in her second goal, giving Northport a 5-4 lead.
“At the start of the second, coach told us to stay strong,” Carner said. “We knew we had to keep the ball moving and keep the pressure high.”
It wasn’t easy. West Islip eventually got hot in the latter stages of the game and consecutive goals by Blair and Catie Lang tied it at 7.
“We had to keep up the intensity we were throwing at West Islip,” Emerson Cabrera said. “We knew we couldn’t let them take the lead and we didn’t.”
It was a statement win for Northport (5-0) against talented West Islip (3-2). After losing in the county final last year, the Tigers want to reach the next level.
“Losing in counties and knowing we could’ve went all the way is terrible,” said goalie Claire Morris (12 saves).
Said Emerson Cabrera: “We have something to prove this year. We’re a really good team and we want everyone to know that. By beating West Islip, it just keeps us on top.”