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Meghan McCabe's goal, dominant defense help Massapequa repeat as state champions

Massapequa's Melanie Hingher celebrates her first goal against

Massapequa's Melanie Hingher celebrates her first goal against West Islip with Meghan McCabe and teammates during the first half of the Long Island girls soccer Class AA final at Dowling Sports Complex on Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014. Credit: Brad Penner

CORTLAND, N.Y. - It was Massapequa's traditional state championship eve talent show.

The winning group -- consisting of Olivia Stegner, Hope Breslin, Rebecca White and Melanie Hingher -- held a mock therapy session skit in which they did impersonations, good-naturedly joking about their teammates' flaws.

But once they got on the soccer field Sunday, they were all flawless. That's where Massapequa's real talent show took place as the Chiefs beat North Rockland, 1-0, to capture a second straight state Class AA championship at SUNY Cortland.

"This is what we wanted from the start," Meghan McCabe said. "We persevered through everything. There's a lot of talent on this team."

Talents on display Saturday night included dancing, singing and poetry. After Sunday's game, the players were asked to describe their best individual talent on the field.

Breslin: "My footwork."

Sara Mangialardi: "My distribution."

Mackenzie Palmer: "My leadership."

All of those talents -- along with Stegner's work rate, Skylar Vitiello's crosses and Kristen Bischoff's speed -- blended together this season to help Massapequa repeat as state champions for the first time.

McCabe charged toward the net on a restart, fought off a defender to win the ball and placed a strike into the back of the net with 23:32 remaining in the first half for what proved to be the winning goal.

For the Chiefs' opponents in the playoffs, trailing by a goal was an insurmountable deficit. In six postseason games -- 480 minutes of soccer against the best teams on Long Island and in New York State -- Massapequa did not allow a single goal.

So defenders, what is your greatest talent on the field?

McCabe: "My headers."

Hingher: "My throw-ins."

Bianca Furci: "My communication."

Maggie Shanley: "My tackling."

Combine that with Cara Gallagher's anticipation and White's reaction time, and you have a team that outscored opponents 13-0 in the playoffs.

"I couldn't be any more thankful," Hingher said. "We were willing to give it our all so that nothing would go into the back of the net. And we succeeded."

Gallagher made eight saves, none prettier than a diving stop on a shot off a corner kick late in the first half. She fell to the turf to catch a low line drive with just under a minute left in the game to seal the win, giving Massapequa (17-1-3) its sixth state title. The team then swarmed her in celebration.

"We already knew what it felt like to win it once," Palmer said. "But to know that you made history for your school is the best feeling in the world. It took a lot of dedication and heart."

And a lot of talent.

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