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Girls Soccer: Stubborn Islip defense stymies SWR

Islip has Shoreham-Wading River’s number. That number is 0 — as in the number of goals the Wildcats have scored against Islip this year.

Unfortunately for SWR, one of those games just happened to be the Suffolk County Class A girls soccer final on Tuesday evening.

As was the case when the teams met in regular-season play on Sept. 21, Islip prevailed, 1-0, in a rematch of last year’s county final. Last year the Wildcats eliminated Islip before losing to North Shore in the Long Island final. This time around, though, everything seemed to go SWR’s way — except for the final score. Despite enjoying better possession and a 12-3 shots advantage, fourth-seeded SWR (11-5-2) was victimized by senior forward Dominique Bono’s 17th goal of the year, according to Newsday.

“Unfortunately, the ball just didn’t bounce our way today and sometimes that happens,” SWR coach Adrian Gilmore said after the game at Hauppauge High School’s Robert Druckenmiller Field. “That’s the beauty of sports. Sometimes you win the games you’re supposed to lose and lose the games you’re supposed to win.”

No. 2 Islip (13-2-2) capitalized on a brief break, scoring on its first shot 27 minutes and 15 seconds into the match. Following a corner kick, an unmarked Bono powered a shot past goalkeeper Alison Devall. That was all Islip needed to be awarded its 12th county championship and first since 2015.

“We dominated the whole game,” SWR sophomore sweeper Lydia Radonavitch said. “We just couldn’t find the back of the net.”

For that, give kudos to Islip’s pugnacious defense, which proved to be a tough nut to crack. For all the possession SWR enjoyed, Islip’s flat-back four, led by Hailey Franco, made sure that goalkeeper Kelsey Scheidel (four saves) wasn’t severely tested. SWR’s dangerous forwards, Nicky Constant and Emma Kirkpatrick, were held in check by tight man marking.

Julianna Eastwood, who wouldn’t have been a bad choice for player of the game, spent a good deal of the match marking Constant. And then, when Eastwood went done with an injury with 9:45 left to play, Grace Rao picked up that responsibility.

“They were double-teaming Nicky almost the entire game,” Gilmore said. “When your leading goal scorer is double-teamed, it changes things.”

Perhaps SWR’s best scoring chance came in the 25th minute when Kirkpatrick’s header off a Lakin Ciampo free kick hit the side netting.

With 16:54 left in the second half, Constant headed a left-wing service from Ashley Borriello on goal. The ball took one bounce right into Scheidel’s arms.

Radonavitch said, “We were going to try to come back hard, but we just couldn’t make it happen tonight.”

Islip’s defense wouldn’t allow it.

“To mark a girl like Nicky Constant and Emma Kirkpatrick, I mean, that’s a dangerous duo there, and our defense did it,” said Islip coach Mike Reilly, whose team will play MacArthur or Valley Stream South in the Long Island final on its home field Saturday. “They got the job done. It looked ugly at times, but in the end, sometimes an ugly win is better than a good loss.”

Islip, which nursed its 1-0 lead to the end, resorted to a defensive shell out of necessity. Reilly said injuries have banged up his team pretty good.

“That was an ugly game by us today,” he told reporters. “We’re just beat up right now. That’s not our normal style of play, but considering all the injuries, we just had to try to find a way to win today against an unbelievably talented team, and we got the job done, and what got it done was the defense really.”

SWR says farewell to its three senior captains — Frankie Lilly, Constant and Kirkpatrick. “We’re going to miss them terribly,” Gilmore said. “They’re huge parts of the team, but we have young talent coming up and that looks really promising.”

It was SWR’s third county final in five years (the Wildcats won in 2014 and 2017).

Ciampo said it was “amazing” that SWR returned to the county final a second straight year. “Not a lot of teams can say they’ve done that, but we worked so hard, and the outcome wasn’t what we deserved. We’ll be back next year.”

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Photo caption: Shoreham-Wading River forward Emma Kirkpatrick rises above Islip’s Sarah Penny (8) and Nicole Multer to get her head on the ball. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)