Jaxie Cestone wasn’t going to leave anything to chance.
When she saw the ball floating in the air right around the goal, Cestone used her noggin.
The senior headed in the game’s lone goal with 13:36 remaining in the first half to lead host Kings Park past Hauppauge, 1-0, in a Suffolk League III girls soccer match Monday.
Cestone crossed the ball into the box to Victoria Menzies, who got a shot up, but Cestone continued toward goal and wound up with the finish.
“I was just in the right place at the right time,” Cestone said. “I just followed the shot, saw it coming and I wasn’t sure if it was going in, so I just headed it in. Just following the ball and following every shot we take.”
“I’ll gladly take the assist for that one,” Menzies said with a smile. “I’m just glad we were able to get on the board to beat a team like Hauppauge.”
The victory over Hauppauge meant even more to every returning Kings Park player. Hauppauge ended its season last fall in a 1-0 contest in the Suffolk Class A quarterfinals.
“It definitely made us more motivated,” said Anne McGovern, a senior midfielder. “We definitely had more fire under us coming out. For the seniors now, we played our last game with the senior class last year when they knocked us out. It was a really emotional game and that really shaped us coming into the game this season.”
“It weighs a lot on your mind because you wait a whole year,” Cestone said. “You go through other [sports] seasons. It’s just wanting it, and it forms a fire.”
Coach Nicole Keicher could see the difference in her players at practice and the pregame workouts.
“I felt like in the warmup and our practice yesterday, there was something different in their play,” Keicher said. “It seemed like they had a chip on their shoulder and I think the way they played today showed that they had something to prove.”
Taylor Mileti had 11 saves for Hauppauge, including multiple diving stops on Cestone and McGovern.
“Those were very impressive,” Keicher said. “There were a few times I thought we were definitely going to score but she’d get a tip on it. Props to her and I thought their whole team played awesome.”
Sophia Kennedy, Sarah McDonald, Gianna Zawol, Chloe Hickman and Julia Zdanowski had a strong defensive contest to limit Hauppauge’s chances.
Along with a little revenge, Monday’s victory also served as an early season confidence booster for Kings Park.
“We controlled a lot of the pace,” McGovern said. “We came out pretty strong and had a lot of energy. Playing Hauppauge is always competitive, we’ve kind of built a rivalry with them, especially from last year.”