When Briana Sayoc lines up for a corner kick, everyone on the field takes notice.
“She’s amazing,” midfielder Rachel Eisert said. “Every ball she puts in is perfect, even though I can’t always finish them. She always plays a perfect ball to me and I appreciate it.”
Sayoc did just that early and often as host No. 3 Mepham defeated No. 6 Manhasset, 3-1, in a Nassau Class A quarterfinal girls soccer matchup Tuesday afternoon. The junior midfielder sent in a corner kick leading to the game’s first goal, and found Eisert for a header off a corner with 9:49 remaining in the second half for the final score of the match.
“I just loft it into the middle and hopefully someone will be there to finish it or get a rebound,” Sayoc said. “I don’t really aim anywhere, I just hope for the best.”
Mepham (8-5-3) advances to play No. 10 North Shore (8-7) in the Nassau Class A semifinals at Cold Spring Harbor High School Saturday at 5 p.m. North Shore defeated second-seeded Garden City, 4-2, Tuesday.
Sayoc helped the Pirates get on the board first after placing a corner kick in front of the net. Olivia Brill corralled the loose ball off an assist from Eisert to take a 1-0 lead with 6:47 remaining in the opening half.
“It was exciting and I was nervous,” Brill said. “[Sayoc] always puts in a good ball and we always have someone there.”
Sayoc scored the second goal off a penalty kick with 20:02 remaining in the second half, but Manhasset (7-10) quickly responded with a goal from Kendall Sims with 18:26 remaining in the half. Then Sayoc found Eisert for the final goal to seal the victory.
“She’s a special player,” coach Janine Bizelia said of Sayoc. “She’s verbally committed to the University of Tennessee, that’s a top notch school, and she sees the field really well. She plays balls through, her corner kicks are spot on, she really works hard.”
The backline of Adriana Iemma, Christina Johnson, Emily Manzella and Allura McManus with Hailey Stork in goal along with Julia Cardace, Julia Rawlinson and Luciana Setteducate controlling the possession in the midfield and offensive zones limited scoring chances for Manhasset.
And with the Pirates one win away from the chance at their first county title in program history, the focus remains on just that -- making history.
“They are rising to the occasion every time,” Bizelia said. “We are taking it one game at a time. But they’re really putting their positive thoughts and they want to win the county this year...it’s a special group, and we can do it if we stay on course.”