Seniors Kayla Cappuzzo and Taylor Sipos have been teammates on Calhoun's girls varsity soccer team for four years. No wonder their chemistry on the pitch was so evident in Tuesday's home playoff game.
Cappuzzo set up Sipos for two goals and scored a spectacular goal herself, and Alexandra Marcello made a critical stop on a penalty kick to lead No. 2 Calhoun over No. 10 Plainview JFK, 4-1, in a Nassau Class AA quarterfinal.
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Calhoun (8-5-3) will play in the semifinals against No. 3 MacArthur at 6 p.m. Friday at Denton Park in New Hyde Park. Plainview JFK finished 11-4-2.
"I think we're so good together because both of us really want to win and have been playing at a high level for a long time,'' Cappuzzo said. "I can trust Taylor with the ball.''
Said Sipos: "Kayla gets down the side so quickly and I just try and finish. I think being friends off the field helps us.''
Calhoun took a 1-0 lead in the eighth minute after Cappuzzo won a ball about 10 yards past midfield and led Sipos. She capitalized on a one-on-one battle with a defender and struck the ball into the net past a diving Alana Cohen.
Plainview JFK had a chance to tie it in the 24th minute when the Hawks were awarded a penalty kick. Goalkeeper Marcello, though, guessed correctly as she moved to her right and stopped Erica Campbell's shot to keep Calhoun ahead.
"Honestly, I love PKs. I just love going one-on-one,'' Marcello said. "I try to take my time and psych the girl out and just felt it. I went with my gut and she happened to go that way. It got our spirits up and we scored a lot of goals after that.''
Minutes later, Calhoun scored again. Cappuzzo got a lead pass from Lauren Marinello up the right side and sent a cross through the box to Sipos, who one-timed it off a bounce for a 2-0 lead.
Cappuzzo had the goal of the game 3:34 before halftime. She started with the ball on the defensive side of midfield and dribbled in and out of three defenders before bringing the ball into the box on the left side. With two more defenders draped around her, Cappuzzo fired the ball into the net with her left foot to make it 3-0.
"I just had this burst of energy from midfield,'' Cappuzzo said. "I passed one player and said, 'All right, I got it,' passed another player and then split the two defenders and was like 'I got it, I got it.' I had so much confidence going into that play. I saw a gap opening and I burst right through it.''
Plainview JFK made it 3-1 on Puneet Arneja's goal off a lead pass from Madalyn Fernbach in the 51st minute, but Calhoun went ahead 4-1 with 8:36 left when Taylor Iacono raced to track down Nora Charidah's long clear and scored.