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Girls Soccer: Kessel’s sure hands earn SWR a draw

As she was leaving Thomas Cutinella Memorial Field Tuesday evening, Shoreham-Wading River junior goalkeeper Lydia Kessel dropped her cell phone.

It was the first and only time she could not handle something in her hands.

“At least it was after the game,” Kessel said with a laugh.

For Mount Sinai, Kessel’s performance was no laughing matter. She lived up to her reputation as one of the best goalkeepers in Suffolk County, stopping or smothering everything sent her way in the Wildcats’ scoreless draw in the League VI game.

Kessel made seven saves as the teams played to a draw for the second time this season. The first result was a 2-2 deadlock at Mount Sinai (6-2-1, 4-1-1) on Sept. 8.

“She’s phenomenal,” Shoreham coach Adrian Gilmore said. “She does things that I don’t expect her to do really, really well. It was probably one the best games I’ve ever seen her play, definitely the best game of the year. Coming out of the box, being aggressive. Whether it was being aggressive in the air, aggressive on the ground, she just came out of nowhere and just took the ball and changed the game.”

Perhaps Kessel’s most important save for Shoreham (6-1-1, 4-1-1) was a diving save to deny captain and forward Missy Carpenito with 5 minutes, 55 seconds remaining in regulation time.

It got more interesting in the waning minutes of the second overtime when Kessel was yellow carded as a referee ruled she had elbowed a Mustang while tussling on a corner kick. As per high school rules, players must come out of the game after a yellow card, so Kessel went to the sideline and backup keeper Alicia Morande came on.

“When the other team marks up on the goalie, there is always a lot of contact and stuff,” Kessel said. “And that happened at the beginning of the game and throughout the whole game. I just like to clear just my head. She [a Mount Sinai player] coughed. I don’t know if I made contact or not — I don’t think I did. Then the ref heard the cough and assumed that I elbowed her intentionally.”

Brooke LiRosi shanked her corner kick on top of the net. Five seconds later, Kessel returned, although there was some more drama with 15 seconds left in the match. This time she pounced on a loose ball during a scramble in the penalty area to preserve the scoreless tie.

“There was never a clear shot,” Kessel said. “There were touches here and touches there. My head was everywhere. The whole time I was just thinking, ‘Just grab the ball, grab the ball.’ I started doing that a lot during the second half. I just thought if I got the ball nothing could go in.”

The Wildcats had chances of their own as two goals were nullified due to offside calls.

“We had some really great tries,” Kessel said. “We were just a touch off. We were so close.”