CORTLAND, N.Y. -- Katie Ford scores big goals.
Ford deposited a rebound off a long free kick by Jess Hawley from 30 yards out with 30:24 remaining Saturday in a girls Class A state semifinal to lift the Cyclones over Cornwall, 1-0.
The Cyclones, who play Jamesville-Dewitt at 4 p.m. Sunday, are a win away from a second consecutive state title and 17th in program history.
"That's what she's there for," South Side coach Shannon McEntee said of Ford. "She's so good at being in the right place at the right time -- creating a goal, being there for the assist if she needs to -- and she really is a great player to use off the bench, although today she got the start."
For Ford it was just another showcase of soccer IQ and quick thinking. "I just try to go for the ball and give 150 percent and follow the ball up," Ford said. "Jess Hawley got a perfect shot and the goalie misread it, it bounced off her hands and I just followed up and kicked it in."
It may have taken a fortuitous bounced for South Side (17-0-1) to finally capitalize, but the Cyclones controlled play for the majority of the half and used prior championship experience to stay calm.
"We knew that we just had to keep playing and we had the ball most of the time," Ford said. "We knew our goal would come eventually but we just had to keep working hard."
Even after getting the lead it took a continued great effort and a few clutch saves by goalkeeper Sarah McCarthy to help South Side advance.
McCarthy twice denied Cornwall's Caroline Staudle with point-blank saves in the second half, including an incredible lunging lefthanded stop from in tight.
"[The lunge] was a great initial save on Sarah's part and great defense backing it up," McEntee said. She added that South Side had some help when the rebound somehow stayed out of the goal: "We got lucky that [a Cornwall player] misplayed that ball."
McCarthy made her final save with 2:30 remaining after a scramble in front and the Cyclones' defense kept the pressure to a minimum to secure the victory.
"Being here before, we know that it's so exciting but we have a little composure because we have the experience of playing in these types of games before," McEntee said.
It was another big victory for Ford and South Side but it will be Sunday's championship match that will be this season's legacy-builder for one of the most decorated girls soccer programs on Long Island.
"It definitely adds pressure because we're the defending state champs and we need to do it again," Ford said. "But we'll just work that much harder to keep up our reputation."