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Babylon girls fall in state soccer semifinal

Babylon's Olivia Maldonado, right, and Aquinas's Chanel Alexander

Babylon's Olivia Maldonado, right, and Aquinas's Chanel Alexander run for the ball during a state Class B girls soccer semifinal at Cortland High School on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017. Credit: Heather Ainsworth / Heather Ainsworth

CORTLAND, N.Y. — The Babylon girls soccer team’s deepest run since 2004 ended Saturday night with a 3-0 defeat to Rochester Aquinas Institute in the Class B state semifinal at Cortland High School.

Despite the loss, Babylon senior forward Olivia Maldonado was grateful for the season that the Panthers put together.

“It was unforgettable,” Maldonado said. “I have been on the team for five years and we have tried to get here every year. I can’t say that I’m torn apart that we lost the game because we made it all the way here and we worked so hard.”

Aquinas Institute opened the scoring with 28:19 remaining in the first half when Alana Piano scored off an assist from Emily Wolak for a 1-0 lead. Substitute Mary Genrich increased the Aquinas lead to two with 15:59 remaining in the half, off a beautiful cross from Piano.

Heading into halftime down by two goals, Babylon ramped up the pressure in the second half. The Panthers controlled the ball for a bulk of the first part of the half, but were unable to score.

With 3:41 remaining in the game Renee Vito found the back of the net for the final goal.

“Being with these girls is like being a part of a family and I am going to miss the time we had to spend together,” Babylon coach Frank Mancuso said. “I am glad that we had this experience. It truly is a once and a lifetime experience, and the girls definitely made the most of it.”

Lea Annechino made four saves and Erica Knapp made three in the combined shutout. Senior Grace Malley made eight stops for Babylon (18-1).

“This season was a perfect ending for the seniors,” Malley said. “Winning the Long Island championship and winning counties is what I am really going to take away.”

Babylon entered Saturday’s game undefeated and advanced to the state semifinal after besting Wheatley in penalty kicks in the Long Island Class B final Nov. 5.

Maldonado, who finished the season with 18 goals and 10 assists according to statistics reported to Newsday, knows just how important this team was to her own success.

“I learned a lot from all the girls, even the younger girls,” Maldonado said. “We all have a big influence on each other and we are together so often. We spend a lot of time at practice and are together a lot off the field. They helped me become the player I am and this is the best team that I have ever been on.”

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