By JASON STROMBERG Newsday (reprinted)

Gabbi Labuskes and Julia Sarcona understand the importance of having Allie Pavinelli on the field for the Northport girls lacrosse team.

Pavinelli is "a really smart player and big asset,'' Labuskes said. Sarcona's take on Pavinelli: "She directs the offense.''

Unfortunately for Labuskes, Sarcona and the rest of the Tigers, the Florida-bound Pavinelli, a senior midfielder, has sat out three games with a hamstring injury.

That included Thursday's's road game against Smithtown West. But Labuskes and Sarcona did more than enough to make up for Pavinelli's absence in Northport's 9-5 Division I win.

Labuskes had four goals and an assist, and Sarcona added a goal and four assists in what coach Carol Rose called an "important'' game for the Tigers.
Rose was thinking about how the outcome could affect playoff seedings. Smithtown West (4-2) defeated Bay Shore in overtime Tuesday, and Northport (5-1) lost to the Marauders April 4.

"We were able to [own] the time of possession and take care of the ball,'' Rose said.

Labuskes and Sarcona played a large part in that.

"I think I'd have to say the last eight minutes, we really passed it around well,'' said Labuskes, who scored her final goal off an assist from Sarcona to make it 8-4 with 15:49 to play. "There's no better feeling than hanging on to the ball late with a lead.''

Mackenzie Heldberg (two goals, assist) and Loren Antonacci (goal, two assists) led the Bulls. Smithtown West goalkeeper Jessica Meyers and Northport's Kristen Brunoforte each made seven saves.

After opening the scoring with an unassisted goal, Labuskes' other three goals came off assists by Sarcona. Labuskes returned the favor by assisting on Sarcona's goal, which gave Northport a 5-3 lead at halftime.

"We really wanted to come out and have a statement win,'' Sarcona said. "With Allie out, we definitely had to get better spacing and cut through for each other. I thought we did that.''