South Side's Juliana Pellegrini, right, gets congratulated by teammates after...

South Side's Juliana Pellegrini, right, gets congratulated by teammates after scoring a goal to even the score 1-1 in the first half of a game against Garden City. (Oct. 21, 2013) Credit: James Escher

Losing once in a season was more than enough for the South Side girls soccer team. Twice? Think again.

A 2-1 victory over Garden City on Monday did more than just clinch the top seed in the Nassau County Class A playoffs, which begin this weekend. It also avenged a 2-1 loss to Garden City on Oct. 1 -- the Cyclones' first defeat since 2011.

"No one likes to lose, but we tried to swing it as a positive about bouncing back after a loss. Better now than in the playoffs,'' South Side coach Shannon McEntee said. "They knew what this could do for playoff seeding. They wanted to be tops in the conference. That was motivation for them.''

Jessica Mauro scored what proved to be the winning goal for South Side (10-1-1) with 8:22 left in the second half. After Juliana Klaum's challenge caused a shot to be mishandled, Mauro took a few steps in and knocked the ball into the right side of the net, breaking the 1-1 tie. It was the freshman's first goal of the season.

"They followed up and challenged the ball,'' McEntee said. "They made something out of what could have been a clean save.''

There was celebration after the tie was broken, but not enough to cause focus to be lost. The Cyclones' defense clamped down in the final eight minutes, limiting any opportunity Garden City (8-3-1) had to climb back into the game.

"It was extremely strong and composed,'' McEntee said of her defense. "They did what they needed to do to shut them down. The intensity stayed high.''

South Side fought back after falling behind 1-0 on a goal by Garden City's Haley O'Hanlon in the seventh minute. Juliana Pellegrini tied the score in the 35th minute, firing a header off a free kick from Kelsey Ford. The goal was Pellegrini's second of the season.

"It shows our depth,'' McEntee said. "We don't rely on one or two goal-scorers. They come from all over.''

So do the wins.

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