Sweet 17! Caroline Sgaglione celebrates birthday by helping Friends Academy advance to 'C' final
There still was plenty of time, but for a team that had struggled all season to score, an early deficit in a playoff game seemed dire.
And all Caroline Sgaglione wanted for her birthday was a game-changing goal.
There were no candles to blow out, but the midfielder made her own wish come true Tuesday.
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The birthday girl scored the tying goal and her teammates added three more as Friends Academy topped Oyster Bay, 4-1, in a Nassau Class C semifinal.
"It's a perfect win-win," Sgaglione said of celebrating her 17th birthday with a victory. "I couldn't have asked for anything better."
Neither could her team.
The second-seeded Quakers, seeking a ninth straight county title, will face Carle Place in the final at 2 p.m. Sunday at Adelphi.
Hannah Kaiser scored for No. 3 Oyster Bay with 17:07 to go in the first half, but Sgaglione answered 3:38 later.
During a scramble after a penalty corner, the midfielder took a squib pass from Lydia Graham and tapped it into the right corner from 3 yards out.
"Once we got the first goal," coach Christine Botti said, "we gained momentum and everything began clicking offensively."
With improved midfield spacing and Sgaglione and Emily Mara operating in transition, Friends managed 20 shots on goal.
Alexa Landow put the Quakers ahead with 9:17 left in the first half. Mara's chip shot from 9 yards out made it 3-1 early in the second half, and Juliane Florez, off a pass from Sgaglione, scored with 1:44 remaining. Charlotte Gelfand had 16 saves, including a leaping swat of a penalty stroke 12 seconds before halftime for the Quakers (9-4).
"It's the playoffs," Mara said, "so I think our energy was up and everyone was more focused."
Injuries befell Friends' offense (star forward Chloe Friedman was lost for the season) and the Quakers averaged only 1.9 goals per game.
"It's frustrating not scoring like we're accustomed to," Gelfand said, "but I think today we progressed in that regard."
Anna Montick made 11 saves for Oyster Bay (9-6), which Friends edged, 1-0, in double overtime of last year's final.
The stage now is set for a rematch with rival Carle Place, the county runner-up in six of the last seven years. They beat the Quakers twice this season, though.
"We need to carry this performance over," Sgaglione said. "If we can score like this in the final and win another title . . . "
Well, that would be icing on the cake.