CORTLAND, NY - The best defense is a good offense.
No, wait. That's not it.
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The best offense, it turns out, can be good defense . . . or defender, as the case may be.
Saturday afternoon at Cortland High School, Massapequa's Kristin Muir turned the old adage on its head, turned Cicero-North Syracuse on its head, and all by delivering some expertly placed corner kicks to some waiting . . . heads.
The senior defender, who had three assists, all on corners, helped the defensively minded Chiefs to an offensive explosion, as Massapequa (17-1-1) defeated the Northstars, 4-1, to advance to the Class AA girls soccer state final against North Rockland at 1 p.m. Sunday at SUNY Cortland.
"I just do what I usually do," Muir said quietly as the personal cheering section behind her threatened to drown her out. "I just kicked it and they were able to get a foot on it every time."
Sorta. Meghan McCabe opened the scoring on a Muir assist in the 13th minute. "I just remember running in and it just going off the top of my head," she said. McCabe, who scored an own goal in the Long Island Championship, notched her first score of the year on the expertly delivered strike, which she drilled right under the crossbar and into the back left corner of the net.
The makeup goal was everything she could hope for.
"It's crazy because I haven't scored like this all season," McCabe said. "I just got that opportunity and it was amazing."
Alyssa Iannuzzi's cross to Hope Breslin, who scored on a volley, was good for a 2-0 lead with 23:29 left in the half. Shortly after, in the 26th minute, Muir's corner to Kim Livecchi, who headed it in, gave the Chiefs a 3-0 lead with 15:16 left in the half. It was Muir's first multiple-assist game of the year.
Cicero's Hanna Haven scored with 12:07 left in the half. Not that the Northstars didn't have their chances -- Massapequa keeper Katie Hatziyianis made 11 saves, and that was when she got her hand on the ball. Her challenge on Olivia King, coming out of the box to take her on one on one, spoiled King's angle and saved a sure goal in the 24th minute.
"She's so accurate," McCabe said of Muir, who takes most of Massapequa's corner kicks. "She's on every single game and her corners are right there . . . Then we have Taylor Kugler, who would take it to the corner. She would always be dribbling it down along the sideline."
Kugler, who ended up scoring the fourth goal of the game (on a Muir corner, naturally), helped Massapequa "get more corners than we usually do," Muir said.
Especially this time, "We finished those corners whenever we got the opportunity," said McCabe (Massapequa scored on 3 of 8). "And when we didn't, we were able to get it back with our defense."
And you know what they say about defense.