Ward Melville girls soccer players bite their medals after winning...

Ward Melville girls soccer players bite their medals after winning the NYSPHSAA Class AAA girls soccer championship against Monroe-Woodbury at Tompkins Cortland Community College in Dryden, N.Y., on Sunday. Credit: Heather Ainsworth

CORTLAND — Peyton Costello wouldn’t have wanted her final high school goal to come any other way in any other moment.

Peyton, a senior, and her sister Maddie Costello, a junior, have spent countless hours passing the ball and training with one another on fields across Long Island. But because of their age difference, they wouldn’t often play competitively with one another. Varsity soccer was their chance to share the pitch together, and they haven’t only shared it over the years, they’ve dominated.

Sunday was going to be their final varsity game together win or lose in the girls soccer state Class AAA final at Tompkins Cortland Community College. They both wanted to make the moment as memorable as possible and late in the first half, the two connected one final time.

Maddie assisted on what ended up being both Peyton’s final high school goal and the last goal in a varsity game the two would play together. They connected for the game's final goal as Ward Melville defeated Monroe-Woodbury, 4-0, to claim the inaugural girls soccer state Class AAA championship.

“When she came up to me after, I was super happy but I was also super sad because I knew it was the last time I was going to play with her ever,” said Peyton, who finished with two goals. “But it was super cool for my last goal ever to be assisted by my sister.”

Said Maddie, "It’s really special being it’s the last time playing with my sister and all these seniors. Just to be able to finish off on a good note with her really pulls it together so at least it’s not a sad ending. It’s kind of a picture-perfect ending for us.”

And picture-perfect for the whole team. Ward Melville (19-0-3) scored all four goals in the first half against Monroe-Woodbury (14-3-2). Much like the Patriots did in a 3-0 state semifinal victory, they dominated possession throughout the contest.

“Seven goals in two games in the state championship, I would have never predicted it,” coach John Diehl said. “Never would have imagined it coming out that way.”

Ward Melville won its second straight state title on Sunday. The Patriots also capped off their second straight undefeated season, going 36-0-6 over the last two years.

“Knowing we won last year, we knew teams were going to come for us but we never took any teams lightly,” said Gabrielle Justiniano, a senior defender. “We went game by game to get here.”

Adriana Victoriano scored the first goal off a perfect long ball from Aliya Leonard for Ward Melville in the 13th minute. Less than 10 minutes later, Peyton Costello headed in a corner kick from Marissa Tonic to take a 2-0 lead with 18:58 left in the first half.

Sarah Jablonsky later scored on a penalty kick before the Costello sisters connected with 25 seconds left in the half.

“We haven’t had a playoff game where we scored more than two goals in the first half,” Tonic said. “So scoring four goals showed how determined and driven we were to win this state championship.”

The players were focused on repeating as state champions throughout the season. After winning the first state crown in program history last year, they wanted to prove that if anyone believed that was a one-off, they were wrong. The younger Costello hopes to continue that with her own senior class next year.

“I just want to hopefully keep this relationship and family-type bond we have together,” Maddie said. “I just want to keep pushing for us to get back here, raise the spirits, get everyone motivated and hopefully we’ll be as great as we’ve been these last two years.”


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