The girls of Northport soccer were asked a trivia question:
Kristin Desmond, you entered the week having scored the most goals in Suffolk County. Natasha Albaneze, you have assisted on the most goals in Suffolk County. So, how many of Kristin's goals has Natasha assisted on?
"Probably half," Desmond guessed. "Around eight."
"If I had to guess," Albaneze said, "like seven or eight."
Desmond's guess was nearly as accurate as the strikes she fires into the back of the net. Albaneze's estimate was nearly as perfect as the crosses she plays to teammates.
The correct response was seven. That production from the Albaneze-to-Desmond combination has lifted each to the top of their respective statistical lists and also catapulted Northport to the top of the heap in Suffolk. Desmond is now second in the county with 17 goals, Albaneze remains first in assists with 14, and the Tigers (14-0) are the only team in the county that went undefeated in the regular season.
"Natasha and I have been playing together since we were like . . . " Desmond pauses and holds her hand about three feet off the ground, "really tiny. We see each other and connect very easily. She passes it to me and I score."
Sounds so simple, doesn't it? Well, it can be when you have a finisher like Desmond, a distributor like Albaneze and the tiniest bit of open field.
Desmond, a senior striker who is bound for Hofstra, shifted from defense to forward before her junior season and went on to win Suffolk player of the year. With a combination of speed and strength, she's a defender's worst nightmare when attacking the goal.
"She does a lot more than just score goals," Albaneze said of Desmond. "She's really fast and strong and has so many moves up her belt it's hard to keep up. I don't really have to think about where I'm playing the ball, she always makes a great run and gets herself open for me to slip the ball through."
Albaneze, who is headed to Williams College, dropped into the midfield this season after playing forward last year because she gets as much satisfaction from recording an assist as she does scoring a goal. With her footwork and finesse and a seamless ability to change speed and direction, she has thrived in her new position.
"She's a hardworking girl in the middle of the field," Desmond said of Albaneze. "She is really calm with the ball. She has a good touch. She can be facing one way and pass the ball the other way. She knows me better than a lot of people on the field."
Yet Desmond and Albaneze are only two of many weapons on the senior-laden team. Sabrina Barton, a junior forward who is the only non-senior that starts, and Kelsey Kearns provide additional firepower up top. Miki Martinov has been the anchor of the defense with her ability to win tackles and play to feet. Outside defenders Annie Terri and Natalie Kropp have used their speed to advance the ball and create scoring opportunities downfield.
That's where Desmond and Albaneze come in.
"It's clearly been working for us," Northport coach Aija Gipp said of the combination. "This is the first year the two of them have had an explosive year together. It's really a matter of them having played together for four years and finally finding their set positions. It's been fun to watch."So, one more question for Kristin and Natasha: You've combined on seven goals so far. How many will you finish the season with?
"Hopefully, a lot," Desmond said with a laugh.
"Umm," Albaneze added, "I guess, the more the merrier."