Smithtown West's players celebrate their win during the Long Island...

Smithtown West's players celebrate their win during the Long Island Southeast Region girls Class AA High School soccer finals between Southside and Smithtown West on Saturday Nov 4, 2023 Shoreham Wading River High School Credit: Bob Sorensen

Madison DeMaio could sense this was the moment. And she even saved a little something extra for the fans afterward.

The senior midfielder on the Smithtown West girls soccer team received a cross with space from Madeline Sacco early in the second half. After a first half without many quality scoring chances for either team, a strike with space was a rarity.

DeMaio knew she had to finish and she did just that, scoring from 25 yards on a hard shot to the top of the net for the game’s lone goal as Smithtown West defeated South Side, 1-0, in the girls soccer Long Island Class AA championship/Southeast Regional Final at Shoreham-Wading River High School on Saturday afternoon.

“I saw the open shot and I had to take it,” DeMaio said. “I knew once I hit it, it was going in. I knew I needed to get it done. If there was going to be a goal, that was going to be it.”

DeMaio, a former gymnast, immediately went into a handstand and a cartwheel after the goal, adding some flash to her brilliant strike.

“It comes spur of the moment, but I usually do it,” she said. “It gets the team and the fans hyped. It felt right.”

The goal with 27:58 left in the second half sends Smithtown West to the state Class AA semifinals. The Bulls (15-2-1) play the winner of Columbia/West Genesee at Tompkins Cortland Community College on Saturday at 12 p.m. It’s Smithtown West’s first trip to the state semifinals since 2018 as the program chases its first state title.

Smithtown West’s last two seasons have ended at the hands of eventual state champions. The Bulls lost to Ward Melville in penalty kicks last season in the Suffolk Class AA semifinals. The year before, Smithtown West lost to Massapequa, 2-1, in the Long Island Class AA championship game.

“This was our redemption year,” DeMaio said. “This has been our goal since Day One and I think we earned it. Us going [to Cortland] means a lot to us.”

The Smithtown West defense, including Laina Friedmann, Courtney Vercillo, Charlotte Muratore, Alexandra Given and Sophia Campites along with six saves from Meghan Peet had a strong performance to limit South Side’s chances.

But South Side didn’t quit. The Cyclones (10-4-5) continued attacking to the final minute. They forced two corner kicks over the final 40 seconds, with the second attempt ultimately being cleared out by Julia Trama with less than 10 seconds left.

“If there’s any team that deserves it, it’s this one,” coach Emily Fey said. “They have proven time and time again that they are dialed in and ready to go and I think it’s going to show even further Upstate. They are hungry, talented, they work their butts off all the time. They are just unbelievable.”

And when the opportunity presented itself, Fey wasn’t surprised it was DeMaio delivering the championship-clinching strike.

“If anyone is going to get it done, it’s absolutely her," Fey said. "There’s nobody on the field that can match her. She’s one of the best, if not the best.”


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