Garden City senior midfielder Haley O'Hanlon anticipated a battle Wednesday afternoon.
"Most definitely,'' O'Hanlon said. "Beating a team for the third time in one season is so difficult, especially against this team, which came out extremely hard against us. They weren't just going to give us this game.''
O'Hanlon's expectations were met. That's why her goal on a direct kick with 3:53 left in the first half was so critical in second-seeded Garden City's 1-0 win over No. 7 Clarke in a Nassau Class A quarterfinal girls soccer match.
"I was pretty confident, and confidence was the most important thing, because I knew leading up to it that it was something I had to get done,'' O'Hanlon said as one of her comrades yelled to her, 'Haley, you're a legend.' ''
Garden City (10-3-1) will play No. 6 Cold Spring Harbor in a semifinal Saturday at 7 p.m. at Denton Avenue Field. Clarke finished 5-8-3.
Yet, as Garden City coach Mike Heedles put it after the game, "the win was anything but pretty.''
The host Trojans had difficulty scoring because Clarke played exceptionally well on defense, altering many shots and winning vital balls in the air. Clarke defender Jennifer Wahlig frustrated the Trojans throughout most of the game, especially early in the first half, because of her ability to win nearly every ball she challenged for.
"Wahlig is just lethal,'' Heedles said. "At half our adjustment was to just keep the ball away from her.''
The plan worked somewhat, as Garden City had more chances to score, but goalkeeper Annisa Deljanin, who made nine saves, made sure the Trojans couldn't cash in.
Garden City was equally impressive on the defensive side. Sisters Megan and Colette Seel, both outside backs, and Caroline Beaty barred Clarke from attempting shots from close range with key clears and tackles. Goalkeeper Taylor Carpentier made a pivotal stop on an attempt from a few yards away with about eight minutes left. Carpentier had four saves and Nicole Chtchekine, who started the match, made five in the shutout, the duo's 10th of the season.
O'Hanlon, a captain, said she knew her team didn't play a perfect match and that advancing didn't come easy.
"We just weren't at the right place at the right time in a few situations offensively,'' O'Hanlon said. "But a win is a win, right? From here, there are things to work on going forward.''