Emily Mara's goal gives Friends 8th straight Nassau 'C' title

Oyster Bay's Alessandre Puccio battles with Friends Academy's Oyster Bay's Alessandre Puccio battles with Friends Academy's Caroline Sgaglione for control of the ball during the Class C Nassau Field Hockey finals. (Nov. 11, 2012) Photo Credit: Newsday/Audrey C. Tiernan

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To the left, to the left.

Not Beyoncé lyrics, but the direction of Friends Academy's shots, five of which went just wide of the left post. Two other attempts clanged off that same post, too.

Maybe all that worked to the Quakers' benefit with just over a minute remaining in the second overtime.

Emily Mara dodged two defenders on a fast break, faked left to draw the goalie, and fired a liner toward the right corner.

“WHAP!”

That was the sound of the ball, finally, smacking against the back of the cage as top-seeded Friends Academy edged No. 2 Oyster Bay, 1-0, yesterday at Adelphi. It was the Quakers’ eighth consecutive Nassau Class C title, but this one, given the flow of this game and preceding circumstances, was perhaps the most rewarding.

"It was really frustrating missing all those chances and I thought for a second that we would lose," Mara said. She, admittedly, was among the wide-left culprits, missing a shot in the first overtime. "I just wanted to get it in. I had to make up for that last one."

Friends Academy (10-4) has found ways to persevere this season. They graduated three of the best players – the top two scorers among them – from last year's Long Island championship squad. They are also again without star forward Bridie Gahan, who led them in scoring in 2009 and 2010, but has missed the last two seasons with hip injuries.

And, although this issue certainly isn’t exclusive to Friends Academy, the team had a 19-day layoff between games and superstorm Sandy’s aftermath limited them to two practices in that period.

Still, the Quakers have thrived.

“It’s amazing to think about how much success this program has had and to know that we’re helping to continue that success,” Chloe Friedman said. The forward also attributed some of her team’s misfires to rust. “This was really nerve-racking, but it was a great game,” she said. “There are some things we need to work on, but it’s exciting to win in double-overtime.”

Anna Montick had 11 saves for Oyster Bay (8-8), which cleared 20 penalty corners. One of them, with 6:59 remaining in the first overtime, was a Quakers shot that deflected off a stick and sailed over the cage and out of bounds. If you’re wondering – yes, that also was to the left.

Oyster Bay came out extra hard; I think they were fired up after beating Carle Place and they really wanted to beat us,” Mara said. “But we’re a hard-working team and we pulled it out in the end.”

Friends Academy will face the Suffolk Class C champ -- Southampton plays Pierson/Bridgehampton today -- in tomorrow's Long Island final at Adelphi.

"It makes for an exciting game, but we would've been fine with finishing in 60 minutes," Quakers coach Christine Botti said. "But a win is a win."

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