The last thing Nicolette Buffolino wanted to see was the number 10. But, there it was — in lights, on a scoreboard that she hoped would have already revealed a Massapequa victory. After building a two-goal first half lead and holding another one-goal lead with one minute left in the game, Massapequa found themselves in overtime. 10 minutes for a championship that, a few times, they thought they had won.
"All my teammates were telling me I had to score," Buffolino said. "So, I just had that mentality in my head. I was so nervous. I wasn’t even smiling after the [overtime] break."
But a smile soon emerged. Buffolino scored the winner off a rebound with 2:41 left in overtime to lift top-seed Massapequa over No. 3 Port Washington, 4-3, in the Nassau Class A field hockey championship game Wednesday afternoon at Cold Spring Harbor High School.
Massapequa (8-6) will face Northport 3 p.m. on Sunday in the Class A Long Island Championship Game at Centereach High School.
"Kate Ciarlo hit it [initially], and I just saw a wide-open net in the bottom right corner," said Buffolino, who scored twice in the win. "I just ripped it."
Buffolino’s first goal of the game, scored with 3:02 left in the first quarter, gave Massapequa a 2-0 lead. Port Washington, which got three goals from Rachel Nissan, tied the score at 2 with 7:47 left in the game. Massapequa’s Carina Ramirez’ goal with 4:15 left opened up a 3-2 lead, but Nissan netted her final tally of the game with 45 seconds left to send the intense matchup to overtime.
"All my emotions just fluttered out," Buffolino said. "I was just deflated."
Ramirez, who thought she had the game-winner until the final minute, said that she visualized scoring on the pre-game bus ride.
"I imagined that I was going to get the ball at the top, pull it, and then just shoot off my right foot into that left corner," Ramirez said. "I was so amazed when it actually came true . . . .In the exact moment, I didn’t even have to think. My body already knew what to do. It was like my body was acting on its own."
Perhaps Massapequa’s toughest task was breaking through Port Washington goaltender Nicolette Gonzalez, who was virtually unbeatable in the second half. Gonzalez (23 saves) withstood multiple Massapequa flurries, swatting away shot after shot with seemingly impenetrable leg guards. She made two nice saves in the opening minute of overtime to prolong the game and put her team on the precipice of an upset.
"She was stopping everything," Buffolino said. "Not many goalies step out of their crease. She comes out, which is very brave of a goalie to do. She stopped almost all of our balls . . . I was shooting everything and she was just saving them all. She was probably one of the best goalies I’ve ever gone against. She might be number one."