CLASS A COUNTY FINALS | WILDCATS 1, GOLDEN FLASHES 0
It was a moment 27 years in the making.
The Shoreham-Wading River girls soccer team outlasted perennial nemesis Sayville, 1-0, in Wednesday’s Class A county finals to win the program’s first championship since 1987.
Sophomore Alex Kuhnle’s goal in the 32nd minute proved to be the difference at Dowling Sports Complex in Shirley, as the second-seeded Wildcats advance to play Nassau champion South Side in Saturday’s Long Island final. That game is 5 p.m. back at Dowling.
Kuhnle booted a ball off her left foot after charging up the left side, knocking the ball just inside the far post on a shot that appeared to be a cross.
“I just remember getting past the girl and just playing the ball like I normally play it in and I got lucky,” Kuhnle said. “It went into a spot where the keeper couldn’t get it.”
The Wildcats kept their unbeaten season alive, improving their record to 18-0-1 while handing the top-ranked team in the state its first loss. Sayville closes out the season 15-1-3.
It was the 15th shutout victory of the season for the Wildcats, who have allowed all of three goals this season.
“It’s so special to make it to the county championship and win with this group of girls,” said Shoreham coach Adrian Gilmore. “We have six seniors on the team and they have all worked hard for four years. It just means so much that we did this together.”
Shoreham freshman goalkeeper Lydia Kessel was outstanding throughout, including one diving stop to her left late in the second half to preserve the one-goal advantage.
“That second half felt like forever,” Kessel said. “Every time there was a goalkick and I had to go get the ball on the hill, I looked at the clock and was like ‘Oh my gosh, it’s only been five seconds.’ ”
With Sayville pushing up in the second half, the Golden Flashes kept possession most of the time in the Shoreham end, creating multiple chances. But the Wildcats got through at least six corner kick chances for Sayville in the second half and several free kicks from around midfield.
The Wildcats nearly took a 1-0 lead in the first half when senior Taylor Chaimowitz had a shot deflect off the crossbar. Late in the second half, off a corner kick, junior Megan Kelly had a shot hit off the right post.
Sayville had ended Shoreham’s season in the semifinals of the playoffs last year.