Kristen Shanahan didn’t think. She didn’t have time.
The Sachem East midfielder saw the ball on her stick, knew the clock was winding down and reacted on instinct, pulling back to find a few inches of space in the corner of the net. Shanahan’s shot went in with 1.5 seconds left, wrapping up the victory as Sachem East topped Ward Melville, 3-1, in Suffolk I on Wednesday.
“It had been back and forth all game, so it was exciting to end on a bang,” Shanahan, who scored all three Sachem East goals in the rematch of last year’s Suffolk Class A final, said. “It really felt good to get that win.”
Shanahan was the spark for Sachem East, starting the Flaming Arrows (14-0) after Ward Melville came out firing early.
Amanda Lee got Ward Melville on the board with 26:48 in the first half, setting Sachem East back on its heels as the squad faced a rare deficit. Shanahan, however, wasn’t worried, tying the score just over three minutes later on a penalty stroke.
It was more than enough to give Sachem East a boost of confidence and helped the Flaming Arrows settle back into their game plan.
“We huddled up and told everyone, ‘We’ve got this,' ” Shanahan said. “Taking the stroke is a little nerve-wracking, but I knew I had to do it and try to score.”
Shanahan padded the lead with 10:56 in the first half, scoring off an assist from Katherine Allen to make it 2-1 and give Sachem East a lead it would never surrender.
Still, the Flaming Arrows knew Ward Melville (11-3) wouldn’t go down without a fight.
“You can never count out Ward Melville and we knew that,” Sachem East coach Tina Moon said. “We had the lead, so we had to be smart about what we were doing and our decision making.”
Sachem East has relied on its defense all season, rarely giving up goals and constantly swarming the ball. The Flaming Arrows did just that in the second half, allowing only one shot in the final 30 minutes.
“[The defense] works hard and they’re smart,” Moon said. “I think they did a really good job of holding on late.”
Sachem East didn’t have many offensive chances late, but Shanahan made sure to take advantage of hers in the final seconds. Her late-game goal wrapped up an undefeated regular season for the Flaming Arrows, who have their sights set on a return to the county championship and, maybe, another matchup against Ward Melville.
“We know we have a lot of work left, but that’s all going to start in practice,” Shanahan said. “We’ve got to get ready and do our job."