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Girls Soccer: SWR ousted in playoff PKs marathon

For all the goals the Shoreham-Wading River girls soccer team has scored this season (61 in 13 games), it’s too bad for the Wildcats that they were unable to save one for a rainy day. A really rainy day.

SWR tears mixed with raindrops on a miserable weather day Thursday. The wind and pouring rain made for difficult playing conditions in a Suffolk County Class A quarterfinal that seemed as if it would never end. It could be argued that it was a game that didn’t deserve a goal, and it didn’t get one — at least through 110 minutes of scoreless regulation and overtime. Even the penalty kicks went long — 11 rounds — until Megan Loeser slotted in her second penalty of the tiebreaker for an 8-7 Rocky Point triumph at Thomas Cutinella Memorial Field in Shoreham.

“It came down to that,” SWR defender Brooke Langella said. “A bad way to end the season.”

It was SWR’s first playoff game since 2019, when the Wildcats won their first state championship. This loss snapped a 25-match unbeaten streak that SWR had assembled since a 2-1 loss to Half Hollow Hills West on Sept. 26, 2019.

Mother Nature certainly didn’t do League VII champion SWR (12-1) any favors. SWR players complained about puddles on the field that took away their ground-passing, possession game. The sloppy play matched the weather.

Langella said with the state of the playing surface, “there was no way we could play our style of game.” She added: “One side of the field was a complete puddle. The ball would just stop dead right in the middle of the field.”

As a result, the game quickly deteriorated into a crude kickball contest, with the sides banging the ball back and forth and the ball sometimes popping all over the place as if it was in a popcorn popper. Quality goal-scoring chances were at a premium, the best of those coming during the later stages of the first half. Rocky Point (8-4-1) kept SWR’s eighth-grade goalkeeper, Morgan Lesiewicz, on her toes. Alexandra Kelly turned on the ball and struck a fierce shot that Lesiewicz deflected for a corner kick. Gianna Amendola pounded a liner that barely cleared the crossbar. Loeser ran onto a ball, drilling a 25-yard attempt that Lesiewicz did well getting her fist to.

SWR’s best chance may have been Ashley Borriello’s low, hard shot that Marykate Abernethy gathered.

The rain-drenched marathon went on and on, with 30 minutes of overtime that were largely uneventful. Then it went to dreaded penalties, which in themselves were a mini-marathon.

“Penalty kicks [are] always in the back of my mind because it’s one of the things that scares me the most, but when it got there, I was pretty ready for it,” said Lesiewicz, who made eight saves, not including one during penalties, in her first career playoff game.

Abernethy’s third save in the penalties gave Rocky Point a break. That allowed Loeser to then end it with an effort that Lesiewicz got a hand to, but couldn’t prevent from entering the goal.

Rocky Point’s other successful penalties came from Emmarose Hanson, Kelly, Victoria Curreri, Sophia Wood, Lindsey Lucia and Kaitlyn Reilly.

Ava Condon, Borriello, Kya Condon, Langella, Abigail Bearn, Alexa Constant and Grace Hillis converted their penalties for SWR.

“PKs stink,” SWR coach Adrian Gilmore said. “You know, I’ve won and lost on them many times. It’s not easy to lose on PKs.”

While Rocky Point moves on to a semifinal against Sayville (11-3) Wednesday, SWR knows it will not reach a county final for the first time in four years. The Wildcats had been to five county finals in seven years, winning three of them in that span. This year SWR picked up its sixth league championship since 2011. Every SWR player had at least one goal or one assist this year, except for two goalies and one player who was injured for most of the year and didn’t play.

Still, when the end came, it hurt.

“It’s really just upsetting,” midfielder Lydia Radonavitch said. “I mean, we’re thankful we had a season at all, but it’s just definitely not how we wanted to end it.”