One of the shortest goals Emily Leverich has ever scored turned out to be a historic one.
Leverich provided the difference-maker just over two minutes in, tapping in a low free kick from Jillian Meaney right in front of the net for the lone goal of the match as No. 4 Smithtown West earned a 1-0 victory over No. 2 Hills East in the Suffolk AA championship at Hauppauge High School on Tuesday night.
“When the season started, we set our sights on winning the county title,” said Leverich, whose goal propelled the Bulls toward their first county title in program history, according to coach Rob Schretzmayer. “I am so excited. Before the game started I told my teammates we needed to get a goal in the first five minutes and that’s what we did.”
Nicole Menella set up the goal moments earlier by drawing a foul in the open field from about 20 yards out in a matchup that featured plenty of physicality.
Menella nearly iced the win in the 66th minute when her shot in the open field went about a foot wide-left of an open net.
Smithtown West will play in the Long Island AA Championship Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Islip against Syosset.
“I’m just overjoyed,” Schretzmayer said. “This is the most relaxed I’ve ever been in a final. Our approach was to come in and do the things we’d been doing here. Credit to the girls.”
The Bulls nearly extended their lead to 2-0 in the 28th minute when Jillian Unkenholz sailed an open shot from inside the box over the crossbar. She made another strong run in front of the net in the 47th minute that Hills East stifled.
Jessica Garziano nearly knotted the score in the 60th minute on a one-versus-one with Smithtown West goalkeeper Emily Wallace, who left the goal to dramatically save Garziano’s shot inside the penalty box.
Garziano, who entered the match with 10 goals on the season, applied pressure throughout the night, but Wallace and Smithtown West managed to hold her scoreless. She got the crowd buzzing with an evasive maneuver by the left sideline in the 13th minute. Garziano followed up with a quality shot from about 25 yards deep saved by Wallace in one of Hills East’s best opportunities of the first half. Wallace came up with a diving save to her left about six minutes later to deny the Thunderbirds and preserve the lead.