The situation: 25:13 left in a scoreless game versus a longtime nemesis in the Suffolk Class B semifinals… Not a bad time to score your first career goal, eh, Zoe Norton?
“I honestly didn’t believe it,” said the Sayville sophomore, who was called up from junior varsity two weeks ago. “I was like, ‘Wait, did that just go in?’”
It did, getting the Golden Flashes on the board en route to a 2-0 win over fifth-seeded Miller Place on Friday. Sayville maintained its unblemished record (17-0) and will face Rocky Point in the final on Tuesday, 5 p.m. at Ward Melville.
The first few minutes of the game were dominated by Miller Place (11-5), then Sayville took control and was on the attack for most of the first half. But good defense, a couple shots wide of the post, and some slick stops by Miller Place’s Chelsea Blaney (nine saves) snuffed out those opportunities. On the other end, Shannon Litvin and Olivia Cabral were stellar defensively, helping clear penalty corners to keep it scoreless.
But Norton knocked early in the second half. The forward took a pass from Taylor Mills in the post and deflected it in.
“She’s adapted so well,” Mills, who also scored, said of Norton. “She’s a great addition to the team and we couldn’t have asked for anyone better.”
Added Cabral: “She came up from JV and was never scared. She always had confidence. I wish we’d had her all season, but we’re lucky she’s here now.”
When asked what prompted Norton’s promotion to varsity, coach Patti Fedelem, before the question was completed, said, “Speed! She’s a speedy little sparkplug… She played midfield in JV, but we needed that speed on the front line.”
Mills added the insurance goal, firing in a bullet from the top of the circle with 8:04 remaining. It was the junior’s Long Island-leading 19th goal. Earlier this season, Cabral and Litvin had guaranteed Mills would be the Island’s top goal scorer.
“Told you she would,” Cabral said. “She’s my best friend, so it’s a lot of fun to see her do this.”
(Clarification: Cabral had said lacrosse teammate Emily Meier is her best friend some months back, and that still stands. But Mills is the BFF not in her 2012 graduating class, she said. Had to clear that up and make sure there’s no rift.)
OK, back to bloggin'...
Sayville makes its second consecutive trip to the county championship game, again carrying a perfect record. Last season they had that washed away in a 6-2 loss to Shoreham-Wading River in the final. Miller Place eliminated the possibility of a Sayville grudge match, bumping SWR out in the quarterfinals.
“We didn’t care,” Cabral said of potential matchups entering the postseason. “Shoreham or Miller Place, we knew we were going to face a good team. We didn’t care who it was, as long as we won.”
Mills said this team is better prepared mentally for what awaits it in the final. “We have more drive to do it,” she said. “We have the confidence, too.”
And from the rookie’s standpoint – getting a chance to compete for a county title a couple weeks into her career: “I can’t explain how excited I am,” Norton said. “But right now, it’s last man standing. We have to focus and work even harder.”
Spoken like a veteran.
* Of Note: Kudos to Miller Place’s Kitty Moore. The defender was hit in the head with a ball and went down with 17:26 remaining. She was evaluated by a trainer (and her mom) and insisted she was OK. Moore left the game briefly but returned at 16:44 – with the clock stoppage, it was about 4-5 minutes in real time – and finished the game. Give her credit for toughness. Hopefully she’s alright.
** Rocky Point avenged a 1-0 loss to Harborfields with its 3-0 victory on Friday in the other Class B semifinal. Catlynn Kundrat scored twice and Casey Heely made two saves for the Eagles (14-4), who were a dark horse going into this season. Rocky Point has exceeded expectations – except, perhaps, their own – in making the leap from “playoff team” to “championship contender” in one year and reaching the title game. The final will be another revenge game for the Eagles. They lost to Sayville, 5-3, in the semifinals last year.