Win four games in five days. That’s the gauntlet the Northport girls soccer team ran through to earn the program’s first Long Island championship since 1996.
Hurricane Sandy didn’t just wreck the region, it threatened to blow up the high school postseason. The only way to salvage a state playoff was for Nassau and Suffolk schools to adopt a grueling postseason schedule.
“It’s all mental,” Northport Coach Aija Gipp said. “You can’t think about the pain or being tired.”
Northport was the last Class AA team left standing on a blustery Tuesday night at the Dowling Sports Complex in Shirley. The Tigers jumped in front 2-0 and never let up in a 3-1 victory over Nassau champ Massapequa.
Northport (17-1-2) advances to the state Final Four in Cortland Saturday. The Tigers’ last trip upstate ended with a championship, but that was 16 long years ago.
“Can’t wait,” Northport goalkeeper Jessica Rom said.
The Tigers have two ingredients needed for a championship run. Suffocating defense held the Chiefs scoreless until the final 12 minutes. And Northport’s speed on the wing was crucial.
Massapequa controlled the tempo, but the Tigers were tough to corral whenever they got the ball.
“The speed and athleticism of that team took a little getting used to,” Massapequa Coach Bruce Stegner said. “That was a difference.”
Let Patch save you time. Get great local stories like this delivered right to your inbox or smartphone everyday with our free newsletter. Simple, fast sign-up here.
Junior striker Krstin Desmond scored twice to power the Tigers.
Junior Natasha Albaneze scored first just 9:24 into the game on a rebound in front of the net.
Then Desmond hammered home a direct kick from 18 yards out with 6:08 left in the half.
Massapequa (14-4-1), which had six players on the field from the 2010 state title team, took the Nassau Class AA championship Monday with a 3-2 win over Calhoun.
But the Chiefs could get nothing going against Rom. The goalkeper made nine stops to frustrate Massapeqa.
“She’s been on fire lately,” Gipp said of her goalie.
Senior Jaclyn DiMartino, the fourth and final sister in a line of great soccer players, closed the gap to 2-1 with a breakway with 12:34 left.
Desmond struck once more with 9:42 to go to push the lead back to two. She has 23 goals on the season.
Massapequa senior goalie Emmalee Meyer made eight stops.
“This is a new experience for me,” Desmond said. “I’m very excited to go.”
Follow Massapequa Patch on Facebook