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Girls Soccer: SWR-Islip could be preview of county final

If this was a playoff game, it would have been considered an instant classic.

Like two prize fighters slugging it out, the two best high school girls soccer teams in Suffolk County League VI, if not Suffolk Class A, went head-to-head in Islip Thursday afternoon.

Islip defeated Shoreham-Wading River, 2-1, in a hard-fought game that could well have been a preview of the county Class A final next month.

Junior midfielder Hanah Franco’s second goal of the game broke a 1-1 deadlock with 14 minutes, 15 seconds left in the match, lifting the defending state Class A champions (10-0-2, 10-0) to the win over the Wildcats (8-2-2, 6-2-2).

After Shoreham senior midfielder Kaleigh Kilpatrick fouled Delaney Kissane on the left flank, Islip sophomore midfielder Alyssa Sparks curled a 24-yard free kick into the penalty area. Goalkeeper Lydia Kessel punched it out, but the ball went backwards. Franco then crashed the goal line with several players and headed it into the net for her team-high ninth goal this season.

The Wildcats dominated the first half, but could not solve Islip’s defense or goalkeeper Emma Rafferty as the Buccaneers came out strong after intermission and drew first blood with 26:43 remaining in the second half.

Hanah Franco took a pass from Delaney Kissane, turned on her marker and fired a shot past Kessel into the lower left corner.

Wildcats senior midfielder Sophia Triandafilis equalized less than five minutes later. Defender Haley Rose sent a long free kick from the right side that Triandafilis put on net. Rafferty saved it as the ball bounded off the right post to Triandafilis. She made no mistake this time, putting in the rebound for her fourth goal of the season.

Triandafilis became only the fourth opponent to score on the Buccaneeers’ artificial turf home field this season.

The Wildcats will host Southampton in their final regular-season game on Monday before closing out League VI action at Bayport-Blue Point next Thursday.