Halle Foster was so nervous before stepping to the ball for a decisive penalty kick that she needed a little help. Her Mattituck teammates provided the perfect sedative. “They had to calm me down. I didn’t expect to be in that spot. They said, ‘Don’t worry Halle. You got it.’ That helped.”
Foster may have been jumpy but her shot was arrow straight. She whizzed one into the left corner of the net on the final shot of the first round of penalty kicks that gave Mattituck a 4-3 edge and an exhausting but satisfying 2-1 victory over visiting Center Moriches Wednesday in a Suffolk Class B girls soccer semifinal.
The No. 2 Tuckers (13-4) will face No. 1 Babylon for the county championship at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at Islip. The Red Devils, who won an appeal to extend their season after first being told they would not go to the playoffs because they played an extra non-league game, finished 11-6.
Lola Kochanskyj scored off a feed from Kiersten Fuhrmann in the 18th minute to put Center Moriches on top. From that point on, Mattituck had a territorial advantage and several good scoring opportunities. The Tuckers finally cashed in when Claire Gatz took a pass from Amber Rachon and scored the tying goal with 24:54 left in regulation.
Because this was Center Moriches and Mattituck, two incredibly evenly matched teams, it was no surprise the game was tied after the two regulation 40-minutes halves. They had split a pair of double-overtime games during the regular season and outdid themselves Wednesday.
The first 10-minute period was scoreless, though each team had a good scoring chance. The second 10-minute session favored Mattituck, with Elvira Puluc hitting the crossbar with one shot and having another saved by Allison Carpenter.
There were few scoring opportunities in the two five-minute “golden goal” overtime periods, necessitating a penalty-kick outcome that guaranteed one side of broken hearts and one side of soaring ones. “This is exactly the kind of competition we wanted when we appealed,” Center Moriches coach Mike Valentine said. “We did it for the girls. And they got to play in an absolutely amazing soccer game.”
After 110 minutes, the shootout format, fittingly, produced a tie at 3. Sydney Passaro, Arianna Alvarez and Anna Ricci converted for Center Moriches; Puluc, Gatz and Mackenzie Daly countered for Mattituck. Two diving saves by the Tuckers’ Sarah Santacroce allowed Foster to shoot for the win.
“I shot it top left. That’s my spot,” Foster said. “I was so amazed. I just ran to my teammates and shouted, ‘Oh my god. I love you guys. Thanks for believing in me.’ ”