Northport’s Emma Havrilla stared straight ahead, right into the eyes of Smithtown West’s Amanda Sheridan. It was a classic one-on-one scenario but, on this brisk November afternoon, it carried a little more weight.
As Sheridan lined up for a penalty kick in a scoreless game early in the second half of Tuesday’s Suffolk Class AA final, she represented the potential difference between winning a championship and closing up shop for the winter.
Nothing on this day had seemed quite so dire.
So far, Smithtown West had dominated the ball but, because of Havrilla’s fantastic play — making save after sometimes unbelievable save — the scoreboard remained dark.
Fear on either side would have been understandable, but Havrilla had none. The goaltender moved slightly to her right to make an initial save on the penalty shot and then another stop off the rebound. It was more of the same from the untouchable Havrilla, who made 13 saves in top-seeded Northport’s 3-0 victory over No. 2 Smithtown West at St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue.
The win sends the Tigers (18-1-1) to the Class AA Long Island Championship, where they’ll face Massapequa 6:30 p.m. Friday at St. Joseph’s.
The stop energized her teammates, who were starting to feel the stress of the winding clock.
“When they got that PK, I started shutting down,” Victoria Colatosti said. “I thought ‘oh no. It’s the second half and they got a PK.’ But Emma is amazing and it made us step up our game”
But great goalie play was nothing new on this night. Havrilla was brilliant in the first half, facing immense pressure with little relief.
“I did feel some pressure,” Havrilla said. “Our defense wasn’t playing as strong as I thought, but towards the second 20 minutes of the first half, they stepped up their game, which was awesome.”
Relief finally came with 23:23 left in the game. Colatosti, off an assist from Paige Leonard, broke a scoreless tie after bouncing a ball off a Smithtown West defender, recovering nicely, and shooting the ball into the left side of the net.
“I had it in the 18, saw my chance, took a quick first touch shot, aimed for the corner, and it went in,” Colatosti said. “That’s what we’ve really been working on this year — finishing. I was confident I would.”
Northport made it 2-0 on Emily McNelis’ goal with 9:49 left and 3-0 on Emily Zeblisky’s goal with 4:00 remaining.