Friends girls get first state title
Friends Academy was in unfamiliar territory this year. The Quakers had never won a Southeast Regional title before, let alone a state championship, but in their debut, they showed no signs of stage fright as they won a share of the Class C girls soccer state title.
As Nassau's lone Class C school, Friends Academy competed against larger Class B schools and had little difficulty, going 9-0-1 in the regular season with each win by at least two goals. After a two-week break in competition, the Quakers cruised past Suffolk champion Stony Brook, 6-0, in the Long Island championship.
The defense-first mentality of the Quakers was evident in the Southeast Regional final as they held S.S. Seward to just one shot on goal in a 2-0 win.
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Once at states, Friends Academy got a bit of a rude awakening. Playing into the glaring sun, the Quakers fell behind Keshequa on a free kick five minutes into the game. Friends responded and took a 2-1 lead, but Keshequa scored on another set piece to tie it at 2 late in the first half.
With the sun at their back, the Quakers dominated play in the second half. The defensive line of Amanda Edwards, Sophia Toles, Marissa Tidona and Kristina Kim locked down the Keshequa forwards.
"I was very proud we were able to shut down their key player," Friends Academy coach Gail Baker said. "They didn't seem to have much of an attack without that."
Junior midfielder Krystina Iordanou caught the Keshequa defense too far up field and got free on a breakaway, burying the winner with 16:37 left.
"I think when [Iordanou] had that breakaway, we all felt on the sideline if it's going to be anybody who has this opportunity, she's our most poised and someone who has played at such a high level," Baker said. "When she took it on, I thought in my mind silently that 'we got this goal.' "
Friends Academy dominated play in the state final against Hoosick Falls but could not put the ball in the net. The Quakers hit the post on several occasions and had numerous set pieces of varying distances but each time, the Hoosick Falls goalkeeper was there to make the save.
Toles and Tidona, who was named finals MVP, replicated their stellar semifinal performance and prevented Hoosick's forward from mounting any offensive threat.
Iordanou, who had committed to Vanderbilt, collided with a Hoosick Falls player with 6:45 left in the first overtime period and did not return to the game. The Quakers had fewer opportunities without their leading scorer and the game ended in a scoreless tie with the teams named co-champions.
It was the first state title in any girls sport at Friends Academy (12-0-2) and though the Quakers shared the title, they sent a message to the rest of the state.
"We dominated this class," Baker said. "I think it proves to our league and our class that Friends Academy is on the page now. We're somebody to reckon with."