The walk was less than 100 feet, but for Carly Ackerina it was a five-year trek.
After 110 minutes of team soccer, it came down to a one-on-one between Carle Place's Ackerina and Wheatley goalkeeper Sydney Silverman to decide the winner of the Nassau B girls championship. Silverman had just made a huge save on a penalty kick to keep Wheatley's hopes of advancing to the Long Island championship game alive.
Ackerina, a five-year varsity player, left her teammates' side from the 30-yard line on her way to the game's final play. She took several deep breaths.
"I was kind of freaking out honestly because PKs are not my forte," she said. "I just realized this is it, if I score, that's it, we're done. It's over. We won. So as I was walking, I tried to keep calm, didn't look at the keeper because that would psych me out."
Ackerina fired her shot to the top-right corner, which the diving Silverman had no chance at defending. The result: No. 2 Carle Place's first trip to the Long Island championship game after beating the No. 1 Wildcats, 4-3, in penalty kicks after a 2-2 game.
Both teams finished co-county champions because the game went to penalty kicks. Carle Place advances to the Long Island Championship Saturday at Adelphi at 3 p.m.
After losing to Wheatley in penalty kicks in the 2013 championship and losing in the semifinal in 2014, it was an emotional scene for the Frogs. Ackerina, a senior, was in tears getting her championship plaque.
"I have no words to explain how happy I am," she said. "I'm just ecstatic. For so long it's been so hard for us to win, and every year it's always against Wheatley."
Wheatley (11-3-2) opened the scoring when Hannah Woodward found Brianna O'Brien less than four minutes into the second half.
The Frogs responded with two goals in a three-minute span, starting when Catherine Gambino played a through ball to Emma Beattie for a goal. Gambino then found Nicole O'Connell for the go-ahead goal with 25 minutes left.
Wheatley's Tiffant Bernot fired a free kick from 32 yards to the upper right corner with 14:25 remaining to tie the game at 2.
Carle Place goalkeeper Gianna Marasco had nine saves in what coach Erik Tonner described as "probably the best game I've ever seen her play."
For Ackerina, it was the best way to end her Nassau soccer career.
"Since I was in eighth grade, we just couldn't finish," she said. "We couldn't bring home the title and it's been a roller coaster of emotions finally being able to do that. Especially senior year. It's probably been the most special thing you could ask for."