The finality was apparent. For the first time, the Babylon girls soccer team entered a county championship game knowing — win or lose — it would be the final game of the season. They felt a little magic in that.
"We dealt with challenges like everyone else did this season," coach Frank Mancuso said. "But it was a unique opportunity to win our final game on the schedule. Usually, we are looking to what’s next."
In a typical year, Babylon would be focusing on playing its best soccer of the season in hopes of an extended run in the state tournament. But even with no Long Island or state championships due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Panthers were still determined to walk off the field after their final game as champions.
Babylon had three goal scorers and five players record points as the top-seeded Panthers defeated No. 2 Center Moriches, 3-0, in the Suffolk Class B girls soccer championship at Shoreham-Wading River Saturday afternoon.
"To come out with a win like this and have the season that we had, it brought some normalcy back to the way we operate," Mancuso said. "And the game brought us right back to an October day where we are back there fighting for the title."
It was Babylon’s second straight county title and fourth in the last five years. Babylon finished 10-2-2 and Center Moriches went 10-4.
Jayne Stark opened the scoring for Babylon by finishing a free-kick from 20 yards 15 minutes into the first half.
"She’s never afraid of this type of moment," Mancuso said. "She’s always contributing in these playoff and championships games."
Julia Dunne gave Babylon a 2-0 lead off an assist from Campbell Stein with 25 minutes left in the second half and Kate Ficken scored the game’s final goal off an assist from Ashley Bell with five minutes remaining in the contest.
The Babylon backline, including Kristen Szuchy, Rebecca Guerra and Carli Pavlik, had a strong game and Mancuso credited Sophia Corrado’s midfield play in the victory. Megan Burke had six saves, filling in after the team’s starting goalkeeper, Emily McGurk, was injured at the final practice of the season.
"The big thing about this team is everybody did something," Mancuso said. "Everybody contributed."