After being charged by her teammates on the field, Gretchen Keller sprinted to coach Paul Paino on the sideline, jumped into his arms and proclaimed, “The drought is over!”
“From the first day of preseason, throwing up and making us do sprints, to now, looking back, it was all completely worth it,” Keller said after Wheatley’s 5-1 win over Babylon in the Long Island Class B girls soccer championship game Friday afternoon at St. Joseph’s College. “Every single second of it.”
For senior captains Keller and Allie LaMonica, the win meant vindication after playing on teams that lost the same game in 2013 and 2014. It was the program’s first Long Island championship since 2006.
“Much sweeter. It’s much better,” said LaMonica, a five-year varsity member. “After losing two years in a row, the drought is over.”
Wheatley (12-1-4) will face the winner of Westhill (Section III) and Beekmantown (Section VII) in a state semifinal at Cortland High School on Nov. 12 at 12:30 p.m.
Tiffany Bernot started the scoring when she fired a shot from 18 yards on the right side of the field to the left corner of the net.
“That felt amazing because it started the tempo,” Bernot said, “and you always say as a soccer team, ‘You want to get the first goal because it sets the pace of the game.’ ”
Sam Giovinazzo tied the score for Babylon (11-3) 13 seconds later, but LaMonica took over from there, scoring with less than 19 minutes remaining in the half. She broke free from the defense at midfield to give the Wildcats a 2-1 lead.
With 12:08 left in the first half, LaMonica drew three defenders before passing to Nicole Hetzel, who scored to give Wheatley a 3-1 lead.
“Allie LaMonica just has this ability to be able to take on anybody,” Paino said. “I don’t care who it is. She beats them 100 percent of the time. Every time she gets the ball, I know it’s going to end up at that corner of the net.”
Bernot added her second goal of the game on a penalty shot and Isa Rios had a breakaway goal for Wheatley. Sydney Silverman made 10 saves.
“After four years of this drought, I’m proud to say it’s finally over,” Keller said. “And that I’ve been a part of it for all four years and I’m really blessed.”