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West Islip beats West Genesee to reach state final in girls lacrosse

West Islip's Annie Lang, left, hugs Kaitlyn Viviano

West Islip's Annie Lang, left, hugs Kaitlyn Viviano following their win in the NYSPHSAA Class A girls lacrosse semifinal at SUNY-Cortland on Friday, June 5, 2015. Credit: Adrian Kraus

CORTLAND, N.Y. - When Emily Piciullo scored the tying goal early in the second half, she didn't celebrate. There was no scream of excitement, no jumping up and down.

Instead, the West Islip junior bent down, clamped her hands on her knees and took a deep sigh, lost in the emotion of the moment.

This was the same West Genesee school that ended the Lions' season in last year's state Class A final, and now West Islip was in position to take the lead against them in a state girls lacrosse semifinal Friday.

"I was just so emotional at that point," Piciullo said. "I just kept in my head our motto, 'finish the fight.' Remember the feeling from last year. We wanted to make them feel how we felt last year. I just put everything I could into that shot."

From there, the floodgates opened. West Islip erupted for three straight goals -- Lena Riportella scored twice and Emily Beier once -- in a span of 1:51 midway through the second half en route to a 10-5 victory.

West Islip's final test will come at noon Saturday when it faces Suffern in Cortland for the state championship.

West Genesee (16-4) had three separate leads in the first half, but goals by Piciullo and Riportella kept West Islip (18-3) within reach with a 3-2 deficit heading into the break.

"Losing to them last year in the state finals was . . . ," began Riportella, who paused as she searched for the words. "That's what pushed us and motivated us this whole entire game, and this whole season. We came all the way last season. We were 22-0 until that game. We came in with that today and kept up with them. And then during halftime, we said, 'This is it. Whoever comes out of halftime and gives it their all is going to win this game.' We definitely gave it our all."

Riportella scored four goals, Piciullo had three and Vanessa Costantino added two goals and two assists. Freshman goalie Lauren Distefano had eight saves. Her stop on a point-blank shot with 22 minutes left kept the score at 3-2.

"She was incredible between the pipes today," coach Joe Nicolosi said. "Even clearing the ball, keeping her head up, communicating with the defense. She stepped up big."

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