Schmidt, Gallo goals send Southampton to field hockey title game
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CICERO, N.Y. -- When Southampton cleared that last penalty corner with time expiring, coach Kim Hannigan jumped for joy -- quite high, actually -- and her Mariners rushed the field to form the customary celebration huddle.
But following that was this: Gina Curreri ran to Chloe Schmidt, scooped her up and carried her teammate off the field, bouncing Schmidt in her arms as she walked toward the sideline.
Schmidt, a diminutive freshman, has been nicknamed "Little Koala," and she calls Curreri and Southampton's other senior leaders "Mama."
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But here's the twist: It was Schmidt and Meggie Gallo, a sophomore, who first carried the Mariners. The young'uns scored second-half goals as Southampton came from behind to beat Barker, 2-1, Saturday in a state Class C field hockey semifinal at Cicero-North Syracuse.
Schmidt's third career goal tied the score 5:24 into the second half, and Gallo scored the winner with 7:48 remaining.
This was supposed to be the rebuilding year for the Mariners. They graduated 11 seniors and, short on numbers, Hannigan had to call up several underclassmen from the junior varsity. Well, now Southampton is competing for a state championship and will face Greene in the final at 10 a.m. Sunday.
"The seniors have worked so hard and I just want to match that and help them win," said Schmidt. Mariners captain Emily Wesnofske cajoled her into taking up field hockey last year. "That was a pretty good decision," the freshman said.
Wesnofske forced a turnover, drove up the left sideline and, from the 20, sent a long sweep pass toward the right wing. After a brief scrum, Schmidt tapped it into the right corner.
Gallo has scored second-half goals in each of the Mariners' three playoff games. Keeling Pilaro took a deep penalty-corner insert and fired from about 2 yards beyond the arc. The ball was tipped in front of the cage, deflected off the goalie's pads and, while it was still in the air, Gallo whacked it into the right corner.
"I feel a sense of urgency in these situations," Gallo said. She scored both goals in Southampton's 2-1 win over Friends Academy in Wednesday's L.I. final. "I go where I think the circle needs balance and I shift defending on where the ball is coming from and the angles."
Teammates said they don't have a nickname for Gallo. Well, here goes: She scores big goals . . . so we'll call her "Big Goal."
As for Pilaro, who didn't score but forced five turnovers: "He's a difference-maker," Barker coach Jeff Costello said. "He's not their only good player, but he's skilled, for sure."
Southampton (11-8) controlled the action for most of the first half but couldn't capitalize, and Barker went ahead on Kimberly Zaepfel's goal 16:56 before halftime. Barker (17-1-1) had its chances in the second half with seven penalty corners, but it was the Mariners who made theirs count.
"This is states, and we weren't going to accept a loss," Wesnofske said. "Meg and Chloe stepped up big-time."
They made Mama proud.