When Julianne Johnston puts her best foot forward -- her right one -- good things happen. So when the Sayville star came in alone on net 20 minutes into Tuesday night's Suffolk A girls soccer title game, red-haired ponytail bouncing behind her, Johnston admitted, "I thought I had it."
Johnston went top shelf, but Islip goalkeeper Taralyn Mackey went higher -- leaping to deflect the shot over the crossbar. Said Sayville coach Joe Nasta: "Julianne had a point-blank shot and the keeper made a great save. You think, 'That might've been our chance.' "
But Johnston got another chance. She took a long ball from Ashley Coia and this time went to her left foot to beat Mackey with 16:02 remaining in the second half and give Sayville a 1-0 victory over the two-time defending county champions in a thriller at Dowling.
"Ashley got me the ball and I cut it back and hit it with my left foot into the top corner," Johnston said of her 17th goal this season. "I knew I needed to get one. I knew if we put in a goal, it was over."
Sayville (14-2), which will play for the Long Island A championship at 5 p.m. Saturday at Tully Park in New Hyde Park, had been eliminated in the county playoffs by the Buccaneers the previous two years, which, Johnston said, made the victory much sweeter. "It was 10 times better because they beat us in the finals last year."
Islip finished 11-3.
Sayville defenders Zoe Grimes and Kaitlyn Ross limited Islip's scoring chances and the Islip defense did the same for everyone but Johnston, who also just missed another goal when her bouncer went wide left.
"She's our leading scorer and she makes a lot happen," Nasta said. "She creates a lot of scoring chances and she's difficult for the defense to handle."
Islip applied some desperate pressure in the final 10 minutes, but was unable to earn a three-peat.
"This game was even tougher than I expected," Nasta said. "Hard fought, but I knew that coming in. Every year, both teams are very competitive. It was our turn. Finally."