Sometimes Connor McPartland had to dive to his left. Other times, he dove to his right. He leaped. He stretched. He gobbled up low and high shots. And when Hicksville's junior goalkeeper couldn't get a hand on a shot, there was a teammate ready to help.
McPartland made 12 saves, including several difficult ones in the second half, and Matt Sloan and Storm Strongin scored goals as No. 1 Hicksville defeated No. 5 Syosset, 2-0, Sunday in a Nassau AA boys soccer semifinal at Farmingdale State.
"That's the best game of his high school career," Hicksville coach Scott Starkey said of McPartland after the Comets (14-0-2) advanced to the Nassau AA championship game against No. 2 Massapequa on Thursday night at 7:30 at Bethpage High School. Syosset finished 10-4-2.
"That's the best game I've ever seen him play. He's been fantastic all year," Sloan said of McPartland. "He made the big saves when we needed him."
McPartland was especially strong late in the second half, when Hicksville was trying to protect a 1-0 lead earned on Sloan's penalty-kick goal 18 minutes into the game, his 13th of the season. McPartland dove to stop a shot with 12 minutes left and knocked away another with 6:20 left. That one required an assist. "I got my fist on it," McPartland said. "Then my teammate, Cameron Beale, kicked it out. Syosset really pressured us in the second half. They beat us in the playoffs two years in a row and that has kept a chip on my shoulder."
Strongin gave McPartland some breathing room when he scored his seventh of the season on a cross from Austin Mars that nicely finished a two-on-one break.
"We're more of a family then a team. We all hang out," McPartland said. "It's natural for us to play together and play well."