States. Say that word to a member of the South Side girls soccer team during the season and they have to knock on the side of their head three times.
"We don't have to knock anymore,'' junior goalkeeper Sarah McCarthy said of the long- standing tradition, "because we're going.''
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The only place they'll be knocking is on the doors of Cortland University so they can enter for the state tournament.
Thanks in large part to McCarthy, a first-year starter on a team defending its state championship. With the game scoreless after 80 minutes of regulation and 30 minutes of overtime, McCarthy made two stops in penalty kicks to lift South Side to a 3-2 shootout win over Islip Tuesday in the Class A Long Island championship at Dowling Sports Complex.
Christina Klaum fired right down the middle, and Alex Reis and Keri Cavallo each scored inside the right post on South Side's first three penalty shots.
After South Side (16-0-1) overshot with a chance to seal the win, Islip had a chance to extend the shootout on its fifth and final shot. But McCarthy, who dove to tip Islip's second shot over the crossbar, dropped to the turf to secure a ground ball and preserve the win.
"I saw we missed and I was like, 'I gotta get this one,' '' McCarthy said. "I knew how hard everybody worked and how much everybody sacrificed. I didn't get anxious, I just dove and got it.''
McCarthy made 10 saves before the penalty kicks, including a diving stop on a beautiful shot by Mary O'Hara with four minutes left in the second sudden-death overtime.
Islip (13-5-1) threatened to hand South Side its first loss as keeper Tara Mackey, who had 18 saves, made a series of diving and full-extension stops with the season on the line.
South Side advances to the state semifinals in Cortland at 5 p.m. Saturday. The Cyclones will look to capture their 17th state title.
"We're so excited to go back to states,'' Cavallo said. "It's a tradition on this team.''
Kind of like knocking on your head three times.