Lindsay Tighe described her goal as "freaky."
Well, not so much the goal itself, which she scored with 21:16 remaining to lift No. 3 South Side to a 1-0 win over No. 2 Wantagh in the Nassau Class A semifinals Friday night, but what was said before it. When Tighe was checking into the game in the first half, South Side coach Shannon McEntee had a message for her.
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"She came up to me," Tighe said, "and actually told me she had a funny feeling that today was the day I was going to score."
And that's where things get a little freaky. Reason being?
1) Tighe is only a freshman.
2) Tighe is a defender.
3) Tighe had never before scored a goal on varsity.
But because Tighe had been so aggressive making runs to goal all week in practice, McEntee played her at forward on Friday.
"We figured, why not?" McEntee said. "She looked great in practice this week. She makes the right runs and gets herself where she needs to be. Thank God she's a freshman and we'll have her for three more years."
Ally Diez served a perfect corner kick into the box, where Tighe headed the ball into the back of the net.
"My coach told me to cover the goalie and I covered her with my teammate Maggie Modico," Tighe said. "She kept trying to get through us but we were unbeatable. Then a defender forgot me and I was wide open. Ally Diez made a perfect cross into me and I managed to get my head onto it."
That Diez was in position to make a perfect cross is remarkable in itself. Diez took a hard fall late in the regular season and suffered a knee injury. She said she went to a doctor and was told she had a fractured knee and assumed her season was over. It turned out to be a bone bruise, she said. Still, she missed South Side's first two playoff games before returning Friday.
After the game, the very leg she used to serve the corner kick was wrapped in ice.
"I can't lie, in the game, I never feel pain," she said with a laugh. "I'm so into it. Then I walked off the field and my knee was kind of jiggling because it was so swollen."
Kayla Klarides made 11 saves for South Side, including a catch on a liner during a free kick from the corner of the box with seconds remaining.
When the game was scoreless, South Side defender Annie Ford broke up a breakaway by charging across the field, cutting off the angle, and making the tackle to thwart the scoring opportunity.
"Right away, I saw she was on breakaway so I started sprinting even before she beat the defenders so I already had my forward momentum going towards the ball, so I knew I was going to beat it," Ford said. "I was doing anything possible to keep them from scoring."
Julianna King made 10 saves for Wantagh (9-4-5), which was seeking its first appearance in the county championship game.
South Side (8-4-4) plays top-seeded Garden City in the county championship game at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday. at Cold Spring Harbor. The Cyclones will be there thanks in part to a freshman defender and a coach who predicted her heroics.
"I can't understand how I did that," Tighe said. "I'm just happy that my coach believes in me. And she was right. It's freaky."