With both goalkeepers in top form, it didn’t look as if either team would be able to score a goal against the other. It took one of those teams to score against itself to decide matters.
That team was Shoreham-Wading River.
With neither side looking like it wanted to concede a goal, it took a fluke goal to settle things in the Long Island Class A girls soccer final Sunday.
An own goal was the lone goal.
North Shore benefitted from that fluke a little over eight minutes into overtime. Isabelle Glennon flicked the ball toward the Shoreham goal. The ball skipped off the slick, wet field turf at Bethpage High School’s Howard C. Vogts Field and then off the leg of retreating Shoreham defender Elizabeth Shields. Goalkeeper Lydia Kessel, who had committed herself, was on the ground and could only watch helplessly as the redirected ball floated over the goal line.
“When it hit my defender, I was in a sticky situation,” Kessel said. She said, “Unlucky, but those things happen.”
The goal held up. North Shore had a 1-0 triumph and its first Long Island championship. Shoreham’s season came to an end with its only loss of the year. The Wildcats finished with an 18-1-1 record. North Shore (12-3-2) will face defending state champion Spencerport (18-0-1) in a state semifinal Saturday at Cortland High School.
Shoreham, which earlier this year had won its fourth county crown, had never won a Long Island title, according to Newsday.
The Wildcats, appearing in their second Long Island final in four years, met their match in a physical, talented North Shore team that was fresh off its first Nassau County championship in program history.
“They were big. They were strong. They were physical,” Shoreham coach Adrian Gilmore said. “It was definitely a tough game.”
The Wildcats looked loose, dancing on the field before the kickoff. They soon found themselves in a difficult game on a gloomy, rainy afternoon.
North Shore asserted itself with the majority of the possession. The Vikings held a 15-4 shots advantage.
In the early going, Kessel did well to push aside a drive by Isabella Tedesco.
But it was Shoreham that had the two best chances of the first half within seconds of each other in the 33rd minute. North Shore goalkeeper Guiliana Graziosi did well to stop Emma Kirkpatrick and then the resulting followup by Gianna Cacciola on the rebound.
Kessel (six saves) did well to deny Ryleigh Gilligan with about four minutes left in regulation time. A couple of minutes later, North Shore had an even better opportunity. Cailey Welch centered a ball for the onrushing Selena Fortich, who came within inches of the ball and what looked to be a sure goal.
When the game ended, the Vikings rushed to celebrate with their goalie while the crying Wildcats consoled each other. They watched as the Long Island-shaped championship plaque was handed to the Vikings.
With the loss came the end of the high school career of Kessel, possibly the best goalie to ever play for Shoreham.
“I think she’s probably the best goalie in Suffolk County,” Gilmore said of Kessel, who has posted 48 career shutouts over her four-year career and will play for Vermont. “She is by far the best goalie I ever had.”
All in all, though, Shoreham couldn’t complain about its season.
“I didn’t know how we were going to be this season, and they exceeded all my expectations,” Gilmore said. “I’m proud of them for being here. They went into double overtime, got unlucky on that goal, kind of put it in on ourselves, but you know, living and learning.”
Reaching such a big stage was an achievement not taken lightly by the Wildcats.
“We had a lot of people doubt us, and just to get here is just such a big deal and the way we played today, I’m so proud of my team,” Kirkpatrick said. “It’s upsetting to lose, but it’s almost like I couldn’t be happier with my team. We’ll be back next year.”
Photo caption: Erin Triandafils of Shoreham-Wading River beats Isabella Tedesco to the ball. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)