CORTLAND — It’s no secret who Massapequa turns to when in need of a big goal.
“Hope Breslin’s just magic,” coach Bruce Stegner said. “She’s the best player to ever come out of Massapequa.”
That magic was on display as Breslin scored her 81st and 82nd varsity goals in the Chiefs’ 3-1 victory over Section II Niskayuna in a state Class AA girls soccer semifinal yesterday at Tompkins Cortland Community College. Massapequa (17-1-2) advances to play Section I Arlington (19-3) at SUNY Cortland Red Field today at 12:15 p.m. in search of its fourth straight state title.
“We’re so excited, honestly,” said Breslin, Massapequa’s all-time leading goal scorer. “This game means a lot to us but we know we can’t get ahead of ourselves.”
Despite dominating ball control throughout the first half, Massapequa allowed the game’s first goal for the fourth consecutive match. Niskayuna scored after a clear attempt from Massapequa hit an offensive player and deflected into the net with 29:04 remaining in the first half.
But just like in the previous playoff matches, the Chiefs didn’t let an early deficit get them down.
“To have the composure and fight through it and come back the way we did, it’s just awesome,” Stegner said. “That’s what’s made the biggest impression. Whether it’s the first one or the fourth one, just the way we’ve come back and stayed composed and finally got some goals.”
It didn’t take the Chiefs long to strike in the second half. Breslin buried a penalty kick into the lower left corner of the goal to tie the score at 1 after drawing the foul five minutes into the second half.
“That shot was kind of a lot of pressure, especially because we were down 1-0,” said Breslin, a four-year varsity player who has scored in five of her seven games in Cortland. “But we practice those a lot so I just knew I had to step up and place it in the corner and that would start the momentum for our team to keep going.”
And so it did as Breslin added her second goal with 26:46 remaining. After corraling a pass from Julia Hannon at the top of the 18-yard box with her left foot, playing it to her right foot and back again, she fired a shot off her left foot into the top left corner to give the Chiefs a 2-1 lead.
Sierra Brophy scored the final goal off an assist from Breslin with 5:10 remaining. Brophy, a freshman, has scored in every match since being called up to varsity in the first round of the playoffs. Said Stegner: “She’s just light years away from most players her own age.”
The Massapequa back line — Morgan Camarda, Alexandra Valentine, Cassidy Byrns, Kyleigh Gallagher and Brianna Deluna, along with Grace Bernardi at midfield and Haylee Poltorak (eight saves) in net — had another strong game.
And with that, the Chiefs are one win away from their fourth straight state championship.
“That’s what we’ve been working toward all season,” Bernardi said. “That’s our goal. That’s what we want and we won’t stop for anything less than that.”