What can’t Kendall Halpern do?
A field player by trait, Halpern played goalie for penalty kicks. After six rounds of penalty kicks and the score tied, Halpern was called upon to shoot a penalty kick of her own and delivered the final goal to give No. 5 Syosset a 5-4 victory in penalty kicks over No. 2 East Meadow to win the Nassau AA girls soccer championship Tuesday night at Cold Spring Harbor High School after 110 minutes left the game knotted at 1-1.
“This week, we needed someone to step up and I had to get it done,” Halpern said afterward. “I needed to make history for my team, so I was all pumped up and excited to go in net.”
“We tried different things at practice and she showed she could do it and then personality wise, leadership wise, she showed she can handle the pressure,” Syosset coach Joe Marchetta said of Halpern.
Syosset (7-6-3) advances to play No. 4 Smithtown West, the Suffolk AA champion, Saturday at Islip High School at 7:30 p.m. in the Long Island Class AA championship/Southeast regional final.
Both teams are deemed co-champions, with Syosset advancing in the state tournament. East Meadow last won a county title in 1990 and it’s Syosset’s first county title.
After nearly 75 minutes of scoreless soccer, East Meadow struck when Kayla Leary headed a corner kick from Alyssa Vega with 5:19 remaining in the second half to give East Meadow a 1-0 lead. But Syosset didn’t have time to feel sorry for itself. The Braves went on the offensive, with Avani Brandt scoring off a rebound following a cross from Bella Romano in front of the net with 1:22 remaining in the game, forcing overtime.
Sasha Chirinkin, Camryn Miller, Brandt, Daniela Romano also scored for Syosset in penalty kicks.
Scarlett Espinosa, Vega, Myla McLeod and Mary Boyle scored for East Meadow (12-2-4) in penalty kicks,
Both teams pushed the attack during the overtime periods, with Syosset generating crosses near the net and East Meadow utilizing free kicks generated off fouls due to aggressive play.
Syosset pushed the pace the majority of the first half, but the East Meadow back line of Espinosa, Boyle, Rachel Rose and Leary with Stephanie Sparkowski’s aggression in net allowed only one shot on goal by the Braves in the opening 40 minutes.
East Meadow put three shots on goal in the opening half — all stopped by Eve Waldhauser — with a back line of Kelly Batkiewicz, Miller, Chirinkin and Kaitlyn Shin preventing many clean looks for the Jets.
Bella Romano nearly put Syosset on the board with 18 minutes remaining in the game, turning and firing a shot from more than 20 yards away, but it hit the crossbar.