Sacred Heart celebrates after Anne Price scores during a CHSAA girls soccer...

Sacred Heart celebrates after Anne Price scores during a CHSAA girls soccer semifinal playoff game against St. John the Baptist on Monday at Sacred Heart. Credit: Howard Simmons

Kaitlyn Cole wasn’t going to let this one slip away.

The senior on the Sacred Heart girls soccer team had a 1-on-1 chance with the goalkeeper earlier in the second half of the CHSAA Class AA semifinals. She sent the shot just wide and although she’s primarily a defensive player, Cole told herself that if she had another opportunity to strike, she was going to finish it.

That moment came with the score tied at 2. Cole played a touch from Kaylee Fravert and sent the ball to the bottom-left corner from 15 yards out for the winning goal as host Sacred Heart defeated St. John the Baptist, 3-2, in the CHSAA Class AA semifinals on Monday.

“Our coaches said all week we want to play a really high-pressure game and really get the ball going, so I just saw a gap and kind of went for it,” Cole said. “All week that’s what we’ve been working on during practice, so it was great to see that come together when it really mattered.”

Cole scored with 12:32 left in the second half, just a few minutes after nearly converting on an earlier opportunity.

“That play definitely stuck in my head,” Cole said. “I think it was kind of the same angle the second time, so I just really focused on getting that one.”

That goal sent No. 2 Sacred Heart to its seemingly annual meeting with top-seeded St. Anthony’s (12-0-2) in the CHSAA Class AA final at Farmingdale State College on Sunday. The game will begin at either 2 p.m. or 3 p.m., said Sacred Heart Athletic Director Morgan O’Connor.

Cole scored less than six minutes after Julianna Bivona struck from 25 yards out to tie the score at 2 with 18 minutes left for Sacred Heart (7-3-2). Bivona, a defender, was moved to a more aggressive role after Kaitlyn Shotter scored to give St. John the Baptist a 2-1 lead with 21:33 left in the second half. Bivona said she didn’t have scoring on her mind when she got the ball but took advantage of an opening.

“It was kind of spur of the moment, but I knew I had to step up and get us back in the game,” Bivona said. “So once I saw the opportunity, I just went for it.”

St. John the Baptist (4-3-4) scored first on a 35-yard free kick from Leila Anazagasty-Pursoo but Sacred Heart answered when Annie Price scored off a scrum in front of the net following a corner kick from Mae Mullen midway through the first half.

“There’s a lot of fight, a lot of spirit, a lot of courage and there were a lot of seniors on the field today,” coach Gabe Ramos said. “There’s something to be said about how much fight they had as well.”

Next up, another daunting challenge for Sacred Heart. St. Anthony’s has won five straight state CHSAA Class AA titles and six straight league titles. The Friars defeated Sacred Heart in the league final in each of the last three seasons.

“The years I’ve been here, every single year we go to the championship and every single year, we lost,” said Bivona, a senior. “So that’s definitely been a nagging feeling that I just want to end [that] streak of in my final year. That’s definitely a main goal for everybody.”


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