Brute force was a bust; finesse failed. So when it was finally time to finish, Mepham's Sam Picinich used her head.
In the 53rd minute, Picinich beat out a slew of leaping defenders in the box and sailed Ashley Appel's corner over Lindsey Hoffman -- a perfectly timed header that marred a stellar afternoon for the East Meadow keeper -- as the Pirates (5-3-1) went on to defeat the host Jets, 2-0, Tuesday in Conference AA-I girls soccer.
A push in the box set up Mepham's second score, Erin Gilroy's penalty kick with 3:37 to play.
"It was perfectly executed," coach Samantha Foronjy said of Picinich's score. "She's always winning 50-50s and always the first to put her head on the ball. That's why we love her in the box, especially in corner kicks."
East Meadow (0-6-2), still winless in the ability-based league, nearly went ahead in the 51st minute on Emily Fitzsimmons' screaming liner, denied by keeper Nadine Simpson when she dove to her left to make the tumbling stop.
"I feel like I'm better in the net than coming out," said Simpson, who is playing injured after getting kicked in the ribs in a loss to Massapequa last week. "I was able to peek through other people's legs and . . . I managed to get my hands on it."
Simpson, who had five saves, had little margin for error because of Hoffman, who had a season-high 19 saves in the loss.
Her stops "just motivated me to do the same," Simpson said. "I'm a little bruised up, but I'm happy to do it."
East Meadow's other credible threat came in the 16th -- a bending corner by Toula DeLeon that Simpson punched away. Mepham's offense, meanwhile, sputtered in the early going, still adapting to a new formation. The Pirates are moving away from the standard 4-4-2, Foronjy said, "and we're getting used to it."
"We weren't finishing, but I think we really came together in the second half," she said.
In the first half, "We were shooting it right at [Hoffman] rather than finding a corner to put the ball in," Picinich said. "We definitely got better as it went along. By the second half, we had more chances."