CLASS A QUARTERFINALS | WILDCATS 2, WARRIORS 0
The ball had barely crossed the goal line before Emily Blunnie screamed out loud: “Yesss!”
The Shoreham-Wading River senior, positioned perfectly in front of the goal, knocked in a pass by Megan Kelly from her left to break a scoreless tie in the 56th minute Tuesday afternoon against Comsewogue in the Class A quarterfinals.
Blunnie’s team-leading 20th point of the season helped propel the second-seeded Wildcats to a 2-0 victory at Shoreham-Wading River High School. The win sends the Wildcats into the semifinals Friday against Harborfields.
“Every goal that I score is like slow motion,” Blunnie said. “It’s so exciting and you’re so in the moment. It all happens so fast.”
Blunnie scored her 11th goal of the season, one of several players on a deep Wildcats team who have the ability to find the back of the net.
“It’s nice to see that we don’t have one scorer,” said Shoreham coach Adrian Gilmore. “On this team, on any given day, it can be anyone.”
The Wildcats, intimidated at first at the size of the bigger players on seventh-seeded Comsewogue, got off to a slow start before finding a groove midway through the first period. The Wildcats began to assert control of the game, but were still searching for that first goal before Blunnie delivered.
Kelly, who’s among the county leaders this season with 15 points, generated the scoring chance with a deft pass with her left foot that went parallel to the goal directly to Blunnie.
“She’s a hard working player,” Blunnie said. “She’s always doing her best to get the ball to other people. And if she has a shot, she always takes it.”
“They work so well as a team,” Gilmore added. “They’ve worked so hard this season. I just hope it continues through the rest of the playoffs.”
The Wildcats’ defense played at its usual stellar level. It was the 14th shutout for freshman goalkeeper Lydia Kessel, as the Wildcats kept their unbeaten season intact at 16-0-1. The Wildcats have now outscored their opponents, 61-2.
“We never want to see Lydia get scored on,” said senior Emily Sopko, who anchors the defense in front of the goalkeeper.
The Warriors (6-8-1) had only a few decent scoring chances and never came all that close to threatening against Kessel.
That’s the way the Wildcats like it.
“We might have had a couple minor lapses, but we all know how to fix it really quick,” Sopko said.
After Blunnie’s goal, the Wildcats needed only four minutes to add a second, all but locking up a victory. Sophomore Alex Kuhnle served a ball into the box from deep on the left side. As players converged on the ball in the box, it took a funny bounce, landing right in front of Taylor Chaimowitz. The senior didn’t miss the easy chance, putting the ball into the back of the net for her team-leading 13th goal of the season.
“The [Comsewogue] girl had a bad touch and I just went in and took it,” Chaimowitz said.
Gilmore said Chaimowitz was a game-time decision whether she would play because of a lingering hip injury.
“I was happy she got to go out there and play her game and really show why she’s on this team,” Gilmore said.
The Wildcats appeared to take a 1-0 lead late in the first half when a shot from Kelly was initially saved, but then trickled in past the goalkeeper. The officials, however, had said the Wildcats were offside.
Shoreham survived a scare in the final minutes, when three key players over a two-minute span had to come out of the game because of injuries. Two players, Kuhnle and Kelly, were dealing with cramps, and the third, senior midfielder Courtney Clasen, took a foot to the face that left her with a bruise above her left eye. All three players were OK in the end.
The Wildcats will host Harborfields at 2 p.m. Friday for a chance to return the county championship game for the first time since 2006.
“The work ethic on the team is incredible,” Blunnie said. “So I think we can go as far as we want to.”