Francesca Vasille-Cozzo closed her eyes, took a deep breath and ignored the nerves in the pit of her stomach. She had a job to do.
The Mattituck/Southold/Greenport senior scored the game-winner in penalty kicks on Monday as the team advanced, 5-4, over top-seeded Babylon in the Suffolk Class B girls soccer championship at Center Moriches High School. The teams drew 3-3 after regulation and overtime.
In its first year as a combined team, No. 2 Mattituck/Southold/Greenport (9-8) will move on to the Long Island championship against Wheatley Saturday at Islip High School.
“There were jitters,” Vasille-Cozzo said. “But I wanted to do it for my team instead of anything else.”
Mattituck/Southold/Greenport trailed 3-1 in the 62nd minute after Babylon’s Erin MacQuarrie scored, but the squad never panicked. Instead, they pushed the ball forward and Jillian Golden forced OT, scoring two goals in the final 15 minutes, including the game-tying goal with 32 seconds left.
“We got that second goal and you could see that confidence came back,” Tuckers coach Chris Golden said. “It was just a matter of time until we got that next one.”
The teams traded goals on the first four PK attempts for each team and both keepers, Mattituck/Southold/Greenport’s Sarah Santacroce and Babylon’s Emma Ward of Babylon (9-6), made saves on the fifth and sixth attempts. Santacroce moved into goal after playing the game in the field, a change Golden said sparked the team late.
“Sarah started the year as our keeper and she’s got a good feel about being in net,” Golden said. “We knew she’d make the saves.”
Vasille-Cozzo got the chance to play hero after Babylon’s seventh PK sailed over the net. She didn’t miss her shot, putting the ball into the left corner and sending the Tuckers to the Long Island championship.
“The ball is round and it’s still got to go into the net,” coach Golden said. “Hopefully we’ll put it in the net more than they do. “