Kucharczyk's goal gives Manhasset Nassau 'B' crown

Manhasset's Sarah Barcia gives a big hug to

Manhasset's Sarah Barcia gives a big hug to winning goal scorer Abigail Kucharczyk during the Nassau High School field hockey Class B final. Manhasset defeated Garden City 1-0. (Nov. 11, 2012) Photo Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

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A group of fans braved the cold at Adelphi, showing off their "M-A-N-H-A-S-S-E-T" chest paint and chanting. In the game's waning minutes, out came the "I believe that we will win" cheer.

Easier sung by the fans than done by the players against juggernaut Garden City, winners of 18 straight county titles.

But then the Indians did.

Yes, you read that correctly. Manhasset defeated Garden City, 1-0, Sunday night, wrestling away the Nassau Class B title.

Seconds after the chant began, Abby Kucharczyk scored off a penalty corner with 4:06 left as No. 2 Manhasset stunned the top-seeded Trojans.

"We wanted it so bad; we needed it," said Kucharczyk, a junior. She had left the game briefly with a hand injury in the first half but demanded to re-enter after being checked by the trainer. "We’re a good team and we’ve come so close… This is just amazing.”

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Garden City had a last-ditch chance to tie, drawing a penalty corner just before time expired. But Manhasset's Sarah Barcia flew through the circle and deflected the insert pass to seal the victory.

Then onto the field rushed the Indians’ delirious bench; out came the boom box and Jensen Polizzotto’s dance moves. And out poured the emotions of a team that hadn’t won a title since 2002 -- when Garden City was in Class A.

"That’s a powerhouse; a true dynasty,” said Manhasset coach Steve Sproul, whose team had lost in the semifinals the previous two years. “For us to beat them is a great accomplishment. It’s a wonderful feeling for us right now.”

Kucharczyk received a pass to the left of the cage and, from within a crowd, sent a shot toward the right side that was deflected and trickled in, just out of the goalie’s reach.

Manhasset’s defense, led by Katie Connors, cleared four penalty corners in the second half, including two in the final three minutes. Polizzotto made six saves and cut one rug for Manhasset (13-2). The sophomore broke out The Dougie during the Indians’ post-game celebration.

And those chest-painters were members of the Manhasset football team, Sproul said. “Those guys have been showing up to our games and cheering us along for a couple years now," he said. "Our girls do the same for them."

Allison Miller had two stops for the Trojans (15-2), who had beaten Manhasset twice in the regular season. Garden City entered having outscored opponents 62-6.

"All good things come to an end," Trojans coach Diane Chapman said. "We had our opportunities, but we just couldn’t finish and put one in. That was the difference… It’s tough, but it is easier to accept [a loss] knowing what a great team Manhasset is."

Manhasset will face the winner of the Miller Place/Rocky Point game in the Long Island championship at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Adelphi.

“I was shaking at the beginning of the game,” Connors said, explaining the magnitude of this contest. Well, the late-autumn chill might’ve also contributed. “I was really nervous, but I knew we could do it. I could feel it in my heart.”

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She, too, believed that they would win.

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