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Girls Lacrosse: Port Jefferson edges MSG in close one

All indications were that this was going to be a close one. Port Jefferson and Mattituck/Southold/Greenport were pretty much even stephen.

Entering Monday’s Suffolk County Class D girls lacrosse outbracket game, that was surely the case on paper. The teams had virtually identical records through the regular season. They were separated by only two places and 2.07 power-rating points in the final Division II standings.

So, not surprisingly, that carried over onto the Southold High School field.

Neither team led by more than two goals until Kyle Johnston’s fifth goal of the game gave Port Jefferson a 13-10 lead with 6 minutes, 41 seconds, left to play. MSG made things interesting, responding with three straight goals by Ella Suglia, Sage Foster and Gianna Calise to even things out. But Alexa Ayotte, running across the MSG goal, deposited a shot for her only goal of the game with 30 seconds to go for a 14-13 Port Jefferson victory.

After Ayotte came up with the ensuing draw control, third-seeded Port Jefferson ran out the clock and both benches raced onto the field, crisscrossing in opposite directions to greet their respective goalies. Port Jefferson (8-8) earned an appearance in Saturday’s county final against No. 1 Center Moriches (10-6), which will host that game.

“I almost feel like, you know, if we play this 10 times, I think five probably go our way,” MSG coach Logan McGinn said. “I think it was definitely a back-and-forth game and, you know, I told the girls unfortunately, you know, there’s a winner and loser and we were just on the wrong side of this one today.”

Port Jefferson’s Camryn Spiller had a good deal to do with that. Spiller scored six goals from nine shots, giving her 49 goals for the season, according to Newsday.

“We knew from the start that she is a good player, so we had our team look out [for] her, but it doesn’t matter if they have one good player,” said Calise, an eighth-grade midfielder who had three goals, one assist, six draw controls and four ground balls. “It takes a whole team to make a big win, so to me at least, I didn’t find her as a problem, I found this whole team as a problem. So you can’t just think about one girl, you have to think about the whole team.”

Sofia Knudsen is congratulated by Gianna Calise (11) after tying the score at 3-3 with 18:11 left in the first half. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)

No. 2 seed MSG (7-8) had a six-goal scorer of its own in Foster. It was a career-high total for the junior attack.

“Incredible,” Calise said. “She always plays top level.”

The game saw three lead changes and seven ties. Johnston, who also had three assists, gave Port Jefferson breathing room at 13-10 with her final goal, but MSG wasn’t done. Suglia (two goals, two assists) ran around from behind the net to score, Foster used sheer determination and strength to bull through the middle with multiple defenders on her for her sixth goal and Calise leaped for joy after her strike from an extreme angle knotted it at 13-13 with 2:24 left.

“I think that’s a testament to their grit and just how much effort they put in,” McGinn said. “We’re never out of the game and that’s a pretty incredible attribute to have for a team.”

Port Jefferson had a goal and an assist from Anna Matvya and a goal by Lucy DeWitt. Emma Batter made six saves for the Royals.

MSG received one goal and two assists from Page Kellershon, a goal from Sofia Knudsen and nine saves from Aiko Fujita.

“We played amazing,” said Foster.

Suglia finished the season with 23 goals and 39 assists while Brynn Gardner ended up with 31 goals and 21 assists.

Port Jefferson had beaten MSG, 16-9, on April 16. MSG was determined to make a better showing this time.

“We wanted to show them that we’re Mattituck,” Calise said. “We’re more than just 12 girls on a field playing just to play. We were here to make a change and make a statement for ourselves, and I think we’ve definitely proved that, but we can definitely go a lot further. There’s no limit.”

MSG is a young team that loses only two seniors, defenders Rileigh Frend and Cassidy Czujko. McGinn started three eighth-graders in Calise, Kellershon and McKenna Clark.

“I’m just proud of the girls,” McGinn said. “I’m proud of the effort they put out there today. I think it was a quality product. Unfortunately, as I said, it fell on the wrong side, but it happens, you know. I think next year we’ll be back and we’re hungry and I think we’ll add a little fuel to the fire.”