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Garden City Loses a Tough Battle to South Side for the County Championship

The Lady Trojans lost in the Nassau County finals to number 1 seed and nationally ranked South Side 2-1 to close out a terrific season.

Lily Schmitt plays defense.
Lily Schmitt plays defense.
In any sport beating a team three times in one season is a very tough task especially when that third game is for all of the marbles and the level of intensity is raised even higher. So the Nassau County Class A Championship match against top seeded South Side and number two Garden City held all that promise and more.

In the regular season South Side had managed to hand Garden City their only two losses on the season, while they themselves entered the championship match with an undefeated record.

Garden City coach Mike Heedles knew that his team was in for a battle but also felt that the Lady Trojans could match up well to the physical play of the Cyclones. “They’re a team that knows how to use their body to their advantage and we have to make sure we don’t get caught up with that” is how he laid it out to his team before the game. “Just play our game and we’ll be alright.”

The first half went back and forth with each team having several chances to take the lead. In the first few minutes of the match South Side had a corner kick that Trojan keeper Kelsey Tierney punched out before a Cyclone forward could run on to it.

Garden City countered with a couple of corner kicks themselves.The best Trojan opportunity was a through ball that Cyclone keeper Sarah McCarthy slid out to barely beat forward Joanna Sokolovic to and knock away from the goal area.

With 40 minutes in the books and no score it looked like the team that got the first break or loose ball opportunity was going to walk away with the title. The first chance of the second half came about five minutes in off the foot of Christina Klaum, South Side’s dominant forward. Klaum broke free of her mark in the box but her quick shot went just wide of the goal.

The next opportunity turned into the first goal of the game as Garden City capitalized on a hard foul about twenty five yards out as Haley O’Hanlon moved down the left sideline. O’Hanlon took the free kick and buried it into the upper 90 beyond the outstretched arm of McCarthy for the 1-0 lead. As the ball hit the back of the net the Lady Trojans, their sideline and their fans erupted as they had taken the first lead that South Side had surrendered all season.

With South Side knocked backwards but not out Garden City tried to maintain the pressure but the Lady Cyclones were pushing the counterattack. At about the ten minute mark South Side got the breakthrough that they needed as Trojan sweeper Deanna DePiero made a strong defensive tackle inside the six to stop a breakaway. However the ball went over the end line for a corner kick.

The ensuing corner kick was taken by Kelsey Ford and she sailed it to the back post over the outstretched arms of Tierney, as well as a goal area filled with players. It looked as if the ball was going to clear the area until Stephanie Leonardo came out of nowhere to knock the ball into the goal for the 1-1 tie.

With only thirteen minutes remaining in the match the teams had traded blows and neither team appeared ready to leave the field. Garden City thought they had the go ahead goal only two minutes later when Kristen Adams broke in on goal as the Cyclone defenders feet got caught up in hers. But although the ball hit the back of the net the sideline official had raised his flag for a foul on Adams.

The game winner came with just a little over seven minutes remaining as Ford got possession behind the Garden City defense off of a head flick from Klaum. As she was running out of room Ford nailed a sharp angle shot past a diving Tierney and South Side had taken their first lead of the game.

Seven minutes stood between South Side and their second consecutive County Championship and they stepped up their defensive effort to hold off the attack of Garden City. South Side finishes their Nassau season undefeated, while Garden City closes out their season with only the three losses to the Cyclones.

South Side will now play Islip in a rematch of last year's Long Island Class A championship on Tuesday night at 5 p.m. at Dowling College.        

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