It was the second county championship in seven months for the South Side girls soccer program. But this one comes with an added bonus.
At least one more game.
After South Side won the county championship in April 2021 in a COVID condensed season, that was the true finale. There was no Long Island championship or opportunity to compete for a state title. For many of the girls on the team, it was on to lacrosse season.
But not this time.
After No. 2 South Side defeated No. 5 Manhasset, 2-0, in the Nassau Class A girls soccer championship at Cold Spring Harbor on a rainy Tuesday evening, the players rejoiced with the fact their season carried on. Next up, the Cyclones advance to play East Islip (14-1-4) in the Long Island Class A championship/Southeast Regional Final at Shoreham-Wading River at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. Manhasset finishes 9-6-3.
"It just feels like we’re not done yet," sophomore midfielder Nora Basile said. "Last time, it was just the season was over, but we have more work to do. We’re not done yet."
South Side (12-3-2) controlled possession throughout the majority of the game but the Manhasset defense and goalkeeper Alexis Lin wasn’t making anything easy for the Cyclones. But South Side finally broke through when Emma Madden headed a goal following a ball played in by Basile with 9:09 remaining in the second half.
"I felt like we dominated that entire game and I knew it was coming," Madden said. "I could just tell every single girl on the field wanted it and was putting the effort in. I knew we were going to finish it at some point, we definitely were struggling, but it came at the perfect time."
Basile added the second goal off a rebound following a 30-yard free kick Kayla Hubler played on net with 3:22 remaining in the second half.
"I realized because it was wet and slippery, I just followed it up and it went in," Basile said. "Even though the game wasn’t done yet, it was just a relief for me and all my teammates that it was 2-0 and not a one-goal game, so I think it took a lot of pressure off our backs."
The South Side backline including Cristina LiCalzi, Morgan Harloff, Charley Doreste and Hubler had a strong game to limit Manhasset’s chances along with Avery Testa’s three saves. The midfield and attack, including Emma Hospodka and Anna Pennecke, continued to create chances as well.
"They weren’t giving up," said coach Judi Croutier, a New York State High School girls xoccer Hall of Fame coach in her first season back on the sideline for South Side after guiding the Cyclones to eight Long Island titles in as many years before stepping down in 2010. "They were sticking with the game plan and they just kept working. It’s 80 minutes, so you don’t stop until that whistle blows."
After going through a championship drought by South Side standards of not winning a county title since 2014, the Cyclones have two county championships this calendar year. The South Side girls soccer program has won 28 county titles.
"Our saying has been ‘Back on the map,’ " Madden said. "And finally winning two seasons in a row and being consistent with it and now going to Long Islands, we just have high expectations for this program because our tradition is winning."