A 40-yard blast off the foot of sophomore Madison Hnis lifted MacArthur into the Nassau Class A girls’ soccer championship game for a second straight year as the No. 8 seed.
Hnis scored off a direct kick with 15 seconds remaining in last Saturday afternoon’s semifinal to beat fourth-seeded South Side, 3-2. All five goals came in the second half, and the perfectly placed winner just under the crossbar didn’t come without controversy.
An inadvertent whistle with less than 30 seconds left created a restart that eventually led to Hnis’ heroics. An official was working along the hash marks near the 30-yard line when he was hit in the chest with the ball during play. He stopped the action and used a drop-ball to resume it. Once the clock restarted, by rule, South Side’s chance to launch a protest was gone.
“It’s so unfortunate and very disappointing,” Lady Cyclones coach Jenn Abgarian said. “The girls fought so hard for 80 minutes and it’s not the way the season should have ended.”
Senior Kara DeBlasio scored the first two goals for MacArthur, including the equalizer with 21:04 to go. Just 47 seconds earlier, sophomore Emma Hospodka gave South Side a 2-1 lead following junior Kate Sweeney’s corner kick. Sweeney converted a pass from junior Ella Delmond to answer DeBlasio’s first goal.
“We were a different team in the second half,” MacArthur coach Jamie San Filippo said. “The girls were a little tight and weren’t having fun. We finally starting moving the ball the way we’re capable.”
The Lady Generals, who captured the Conference A2 crown, advanced to face No. 3 Mepham in the county championship game. Last season, MacArthur finished runner-up to Valley Stream South.
“We knew South Side would be tough,” said San Filippo, whose team defeated Plainedge in the first round and Seaford in the quarterfinals.
The Lady Cyclones played the second half without starting goalkeeper Julia Cavanagh, one of only four seniors on the roster. Cavanagh, who starred in their quarterfinal win over Valley Stream South with three stops during penalty kicks, injured her fingers and knuckle, Abgarian said, and left the facility for medical attention.
After a scoreless opening half, DeBlasio got the offensive fireworks going 3:01 into the second half. Sweeney tied it 10 minutes later and nearly gave South Side the lead if not for a dynamic diving stop by MacArthur senior goalie Shannon Kilian.
Sweeney scored the team’s only goal in regulation against Valley Stream South Oct. 29 off a feed from freshman Maggie Colvin. Hospodka notched the winning PK. It was Colvin’s goal in double overtime that beat Lynbrook, 1-0, in the first round three days earlier.
“We talk about the season in three parts,” Abgarian said. “It’s the first half of conference play, the second half of conference play, and the playoffs. The first part didn’t go the way we wanted, but the girls showed a lot of character and they really turned things around after the first six games.”