Katie Vahle made one save in last year’s Suffolk Class B girls lacrosse championship game. In Thursday night’s county final, she made three in the final 45 seconds of a one-goal game.
The sophomore netminder for top-seeded Eastport-South Manor came up clutch, making 10 saves and denying West Babylon’s furious comeback in an 8-7 win at Farmingdale State, securing the team’s fifth straight Suffolk Class B title.
With driving rain drenching the field and inhibiting visibility, Vahle made the three biggest saves of her team’s season.
“It’s so hard,” said Vahle, who admitted the yellow lacrosse ball is easier to see in the rain than a white ball but still a difficult task. “I have water dripping from my helmet. You have it coming through every single part of the helmet. It’s just crazy.”
Kasey Choma’s fourth goal of the game put Eastport-South Manor (16-1) ahead 8-4 with 5:58 to play, but West Babylon’s Emily Heller didn’t fold. The senior scored three straight — the last with 1:45 remaining — cutting the deficit to 8-7.
Then, Vahle stepped up. She saved a low shot with 45 seconds left, then took another shot off her facemask. With 9.5 seconds left, Vahle kicked a low shot that dinged off the pipe.
“If it wasn’t for Katie Vahle making those saves at the end, it would’ve been a completely different game,” Choma said.
After defeating West Babylon (14-4) in the county championship game for the second consecutive season, Eastport-South Manor will play Manhasset for the Long Island Class B championship at 5 p.m. Saturday at Adelphi.