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Megan Walsh leads defense as Garden City blanks Island Trees, reaches Class A final

Garden City's Isabel Klatt, center, and Jackie Morris

Garden City's Isabel Klatt, center, and Jackie Morris (17) congratulate Chloe Stapleford (12) after she scored a goal in the second minute of a Nassau Class A semifinal against Island Trees at Cold Spring Harbor High School on Friday, Oct. 30, 2015. Credit: James Escher

Megan Walsh and the Garden City defense stopped attacks, they stopped shots, they even stopped traffic.

Yup, not even a few honking cars could get past them.

After top-seeded Garden City defeated Island Trees, 2-0, in the Nassau Class A girls soccer semifinals Friday night at Cold Spring Harbor, three key members of the defensive unit stood on the sidewalk for postgame interviews. Their bus waited for them, blocking a single-lane road and causing quite the traffic jam.

It was impenetrable, just like the Garden City defense, which recorded its fifth straight shutout.

"We cleared the ball out of the back really fast and communicated," said Walsh, a stopper. "Also just moving up as a unit from the defense into the midfield all the way to the strikers really helped us defensively."

The only goal Garden City needed came just 64 seconds into the game. Island Trees' keeper Kaeley Johnston made a sliding save on the initial shot, but Chloe Stapleford knocked in the rebound for a 1-0 advantage.

Isabel Klatt scored on a header off a corner kick by Emma Wieland with 34:25 remaining to increase the lead to 2-0.

The defense didn't allow a shot on goal until just 5:27 remained. After a free kick, goalkeeper Caroline Peppard caught a line drive to preserve the shutout. Though it was her lone save, Peppard did come off her line to break up plays, corral many loose balls, and help keep the defense organized.

"We all shift well together, keeping the defense compact so the players can't come through," Katherine Galzerano said.

The Trojans (11-1-3) advance to the county final at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday against South Side at Cold Spring Harbor.

Johnston made nine saves for No. 5 Island Trees (9-5-3). She stopped a penalty kick with 15:24 left, and on the ensuing corner kick, Ashley Jones saved a goal with a header on an empty net to keep the deficit at 2-0.

But it was a deficit that was too great to overcome against Garden City, which has allowed only seven goals all season.

"We have been playing soccer with each other for so long that we have a great connection in the back," defender Kate Farrell said. "We have been training so hard to do everything we can to get to counties. Now we have to keep moving forward."

Something offenses -- and cars -- struggle to do around them.


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