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Shelby Fredericks' moment in goal
As one of Long Island’s top scorers, Shelby Fredericks is used to being around the goal. But not in goal.
Yet that’s exactly where she found herself last week…for the first time in her life…during the biggest moment of the season.
Despite the fact that she had never played goalkeeper before, she moved into the frame for the championship-deciding penalty kicks in the Suffolk County final against Center Moriches on Saturday.
“She’s very athletic, probably the most athletic kid we have,” Babylon coach Tim Harrison said. “She’s just remarkable in every regard. PKs are very much a mental activity and not so much physical. Having the best player, in what I feel is the state and maybe the nation, in the frame to have to shoot against is a challenge to the other team. She reads the game so well as a field player that we knew putting her in the frame is something she would also excel at.”
We know all about Fredericks the forward, with her speed and strength, her foot work and striking ability. But Fredericks the keeper?
Seeing her in goal was an unusual sight in what had been an unusual game. Regulation and overtime had been played on Friday night but the game was suspended after the golden goal OTs because the lights at St. Joseph’s couldn’t stay on past 11 p.m. due to a Town of Brookhaven ordinance. Penalty kicks were scheduled for 4 p.m. on Saturday. So the teams, refs, and fans had to come back for roughly 15 minutes of game action the next day. When they arrived, the St. Joseph’s playoff game was still being played because their opponent showed up an hour and a half late due to traffic, pushing back the start of the game.
PKs finally began around 4:45 p.m. and lining up to take the first shot was Fredericks, who scored. After Center Moriches converted its first two shots, Fredericks took over in net, a decision that was made earlier that afternoon. She changed jerseys, approached the goal, smacked the post, jumped up and hit the crossbar and confidently smiled as if she had been a keeper all her life.
“I wasn’t really nervous,” she said. “All the pressure is on the shooter, they expect the shooter to score. If you make a save, that’s great. If you don’t, then the shooter did their job. I felt excitement. It was something I had never done before. It wasn’t anything I had really practiced so I went in with the mentality of trying to get in their head. I tried my best and that’s all I can really do.”
She allowed a goal on her first attempt, but on the next shot, made a crucial diving stop that ultimately allowed Babylon to even the shootout at 3-3.
Fredericks brilliant soccer career, which saw her lead Babylon to a county title last season and earn first-team All-Long Island and All-State as a junior, ended with her in goal as Emily Fey fired past her to give Center Moriches the county title.
“I was extremely proud of each and every one of my teammates for even getting that far,” she said. “There were only four seniors on the team and we were kind of frustrated early in the season because we knew what we wanted to do and that was to get where we were last season, the Long Island championship. We had so many younger girls and we were trying so hard to push them. The amount of growth I’ve seen within them and the amount of passion they’ve shown to keep our senior season alive was unreal. I love my team so much and we’ve all kind of jelled so well together. We understood that it took every single one of us.”
Fredericks, who finished the season as the leading scorer in Long Island public schools with 23 goals, will attend North Western University, where she’ll play lacrosse. But even as she saw the ball hit the back of the net in what was her first and last appearance as a goalkeeper – and final game as a soccer player overall – she wasn’t overcome with sadness or disappointment.
“At the end of the game, I felt at peace,” Fredericks said. “It was a weird feeling. Definitely a tough loss, but I feel very excited that this is just the beginning of Babylon’s success. I’m proud that I was a part of that.”
With many goals scored, and one career save.