Katie Ford’s got a knack for scoring clutch goals.
Last year, her goal in the fourth overtime lifted South Side over Somers in the New York State Class A girls’ soccer championship game. Last Monday, her flair for the dramatic continued when she scored off a headed pass from fellow junior Christina Klaum with 7:15 remaining to give the Lady Cyclones a 2-1 win over Garden City at Cold Spring Harbor High School for their remarkable 26th Nassau Class A title in 27 years.
“Katie just finds a way to score in big games,” South Side coach Shannon McEntee said of Ford, who dating back to last November has scored in five straight postseason contests. “We got caught up playing Garden City’s style, and it wasn’t until they scored when we settled down and picked up our passing game,” McEntee added.
The top-seeded Lady Cyclones (16-0-1 overall) handily defeated the Lady Trojans twice during the regular season, 4-0 and 4-1, but were forced to come from behind to win the county title. “We expected a closer game,” McEntee said. “And that’s what it turned out to be.”
After a scoreless first half, Garden City took the lead with 21:36 left in regulation on Haley O’Hanlon’s direct free kick from 25 yards out that snuck by South Side junior goalkeeper Sarah McCarthy, who posted playoff shutouts against Mineola, Wantagh and Plainedge. “Sarah did exactly what she was supposed to do,” McEntee said. “It was a perfectly placed shot.”
In unfamiliar territory trailing by a goal, McEntee said the Lady Cyclones didn’t panic. “The girls knew what needed to be done,” she said. “I could just tell their attitudes changed after that goal.”
A little more than eight minutes elapsed before they got the equalizer. Junior Kelsey Ford drove a corner kick to the far post where sophomore Stephanie Leonardo was parked and redirected it in to make it 1-1 with 13:31 to play.
“All the goals in this game were nice goals,” McEntee said. “I’m just thrilled we got one more than they did.”
O’Hanlon’s goal was the first allowed by South Side since the Oct. 23 regular-season finale. It opened the playoffs three days later with a 6-0 win over Mineola, behind two goals and an assist from Klaum, topped Wantagh, 5-0, in the quarterfinals Nov. 9 thanks in large part to sophomore Keri Cavallo’s hat trick, and eliminated Plainedge, 3-0, in the semis last Sunday on goals by Klaum, Katie Ford and junior Jessica Hawley.