CLASS A LONG ISLAND FINALS | CYCLONES 2, WILDCATS 1 (OT)
It took until a chilly night in November, in the 104th minute of a championship game, for the Shoreham-Wading River girls soccer team to feel the agony of defeat.
The Wildcats fell 2-1 to perennial champion South Side Saturday night in the Class A Long Island Championship at Dowling Sports Complex.
In an intense, back-and-forth game filled with dramatics, it was South Side’s Keri Cavallo who delivered the final heroics, heading a ball amid a crowd packed in front of the net that snuck inside the right post. The ball popped out, initially looking like play would go on. But the officials signaled goal, and after a momentary pause, the celebration was on for the Cyclones.
The Wildcats lost for the first time this season, ending their remarkable run at 18-1-1.
“They left it all on the field tonight and I couldn’t be prouder,” said Shoreham coach Adrian Gilmore.
The Wildcats gave up two goals in a game for the first time all year. And they were just the fourth and fifth goals total they’ve allowed in the season.
South Side won its 16th Long Island title since 1997. For all their pedigree as champions, the Cyclones hardly intimated the Wildcats, who played the game every bit as if they belonged.
“The whole game we really talked about playing our game,” Gilmore said.
The Wildcats rallied from a 1-0 hole in the final two minutes to send the game into overtime. On a deep free kick from about 40 yards out, senior Emily Sopko lofted a beautiful shot that arched just over the South Side goalkeeper.
“She’s done that before for us,” Gilmore said. “That’s why she’s a senior captain.”
The teams played 20 minutes of overtime without a goal, sending the game to two five-minute sudden death periods.
The Cyclones were buzzing in the Shoreham end during the first five-minute overtime period, finally capitalizing in the final minute.
Shoreham goalkeeper Lydia Kessel was superb again on the big stage. The freshman made several big saves and was aggressive on corner kicks punching the ball in the air to clear it out.
Before the season started, Kessel was an unfamiliar name in Suffolk County soccer.
“To put on the show she put on Wednesday night and then again tonight just truly shows why she is in that spot,” Gilmore said. “So many people came up to me tonight like, ‘She’s just unbelievable.’ And I’ve been saying that for two years.”
Gilmore said Kessel loves playing aggressive on the corners.
“That’s like her thing,” she said. “We do corner kicks in practice and Emily and Alex (Kuhnle) serve them in.”
Both teams had their chances throughout the game. South Side had one shot hit off a post and another off a crossbar. The Wildcats nearly went ahead in overtime on another free kick from Sopko. Positioned closer to the net than on her goal, Sopko delivered another terrific shot that South Side goalkeeper Kayla Klarides got a hand on to deflect up off the crossbar and out of bounds, giving the Wildcats a corner kick.
South Side scored the game’s first goal in the 47th minute. The Cylcones got a free kick from the left corner, positioned slightly closer than a corner kick. Kessel made an initial save after the ball was served in, but South Side’s Alexandra McNicholas was there to put in a rebound.
The Wildcats lost two key players to injuries during the game. Senior Taylor Chaimowitz went down with just under 10 minutes left in regulation after a hard collision near midfield. Gilmore said Chaimowitz got hit in the ribs and then hit her head on the turf as she fell.
In overtime, Kuhnle — the hero from the county championship game — went down with a leg cramp and did not return.
When the Wildcats went down by a goal, senior Courtney Clasen slid up in the midfield to get involved more in the offense. She helped create a couple chances for Shoreham.
“Courtney played amazing tonight,” Gilmore said.
With the way Kessel performed in goal, Gilmore was more than confident the team could prevail in penalty kicks. They were mere minutes away from getting the opportunity.
“Definitely confident,” Gilmore said.