Garden City girls soccer is pretty confident going into the Class A state semifinal in Cortland this weekend. And really, can you blame them?
The Trojans took home the top prize in 2010 and defeated one of the most decorated programs on Long Island when they beat South Side in penalty kicks last week. Their defense has allowed a scant nine goals in 17 games, and they were most recently able to solve Sayville's Kiarra Grimes in triple overtime (granted, the stud goalie still managed 18 saves).
"We're very tough defensively," coach Mike Heedles said. "We're tough to get around, we're tough to beat, we get to the ball quickly and we've been there before."
Garden City, which takes on Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Saturday at 5:30 p.m. at SUNY Cortland, will be led by center midfielder Haley O'Hanlon and the devastating duo of Kerry Defliese, the stopper back, and sweeper Deanna DiPierro.
"Kerry is a fierce competitor," Heedles said. "She competes and she understands that she's out there to play and she's there to represent her team and school. She's a pleasure to watch."
With Defliese marking the best opposing offensive threat and DiPierro picking up the stragglers, "it's going to be about who's going to convert the chances," Heedles said. "Both defenses will be very, very strong, as they usually are at this stage. PKs might be an issue."
Which means that even more attention will go to Taylor Carpentier, the lacrosse wunderkind who finally made the transition to soccer goalie this year after previously playing at forward.
"This will go to the team that makes the fewest mistakes," Heedles said. "It's the state championship. The motivation is there."
The skill, the pedigree and the confidence, too.