There doesn’t seem to be a moment too big for Babylon’s Sophie Ryan.
After scoring the winning goal in double overtime Wednesday to put the Babylon girls soccer team in the Long Island Class B championship/Southeast Regional final, she provided a great encore Sunday. Ryan put away the final goal in penalty kicks as the Panthers advanced to the state Class B semifinals with a victory over Wheatley at Bethpage High School.
Babylon and Wheatley played to a tie at 2 in regulation and through 30 minutes of overtime before the Panthers won the penalty-kick period, 3-1, in a span of four kicks.
Although battling some nerves, Ryan tried to put on a tough face as she lined up for the kick. “Just take a deep breath and be confident,” she said. “And when you act intimidating, you are intimidating.”
Her resume leaves no goalkeeper excited to see her, even though Wheatley’s Cecilia Jozef had a great game with 11 saves.
Babylon (18-0) will play Aquinas Institute (Rochester) at Cortland High School at 5:30 p.m. Saturday in the team’s first trip to the state semifinals since 2004, coach Frank Mancuso said.
The Panthers’ 21-player roster, all juniors and seniors, wanted to avenge last season’s loss to Wheatley in the same round. “It’s a warrior mentality,” Mancuso said. “It’s a very tight-knit group. They’ve been playing together a long time and it’s kind of rare at a small school to have all seniors and juniors, so to keep the continuity from last year to this year, I think they all knew when our backs are up against the wall, we’re fighting for each other.”
Babylon took a 2-0 lead as Sam Giovinazzo scored off a corner kick from Sarah Quigley 10 minutes into the game and Molly Cummings scored off Quigley’s second assist with 9:45 left in the first half.
“It’s what we’ve been working for since we lost last year,” Cummings said. “We wanted this moment forever. The past five years, we’ve gone to [the county final] and we’ve never made it this far, and it feels so good just to be here and to go to states together.”
But Wheatley (3-8-2) didn’t back down. Tiffany Bernot had free-kick goals from 48 and 45 yards out only 2 minutes, 12 seconds apart to tie the score with 25:42 remaining in the second half. Bernot also scored during penalty kicks.
Babylon’s Olivia Maldonado and Quigley made the first two penalty-kick goals, with Grace Malley making a save before Ryan’s clincher continued Babylon’s season.
“Sometimes I get a little pressured, but I think I’m able to stay composed,” she said. “I don’t mind being put under pressure in moments like this.”