The Class AA semifinal match up between Calhoun and Mepham could be described with a multitude of adjectives. A suitable one may just be shocking.
No. 9 Calhoun (16-0-2) preserved its undefeated season with a 2-1 overtime victory against No. 4 Mepham (7-7-2) after senior Mary Hijazi put in a penalty kick goal in the first of two overtime periods.
“They just put their hearts and souls into it because they didn’t want this to be the end of their season,” Lori Biscardi, Calhoun head coach, said. “When you get tired, you just have to dig deeper and give it all you’ve got and leave everything on the field.”
Sophomore Jessica Foley scored the game-tying goal in the 79th minute after the Lady Colts spent the previous 62 minutes trailing behind the Lady Pirates.
“We just had to give it our all and we knew what had to get done,” said Foley. “We knew we were tired and we needed to get through it.”
Sophomore Emily Schmitt gave Mepham a 1-0 lead in the 16th minute with a long shot from outside of the box that deflected off of goalkeeper Alissa Battaglia’s gloves and into the net.
After Calhoun struggled to put shots on goal for the rest of the opening half, it knew something would need to be done or the season stopped with district rival Mepham. Just minutes into the second half, the chances started to surface.
Calhoun created solid opportunities during the next 20 minutes, including a questionable no-call in the box after senior Kristina Gandolfo, the teams leading scorer, was taken down in the box on a breakaway.
Despite the pressure, the Lady Pirates still remained in front with the Class AA finals in near sight. However, Foley snuck in to tap a loose ball past goalkeeper Alexa Rinaudo (six saves) to tie up the score 1-1 and force extra time.
Seven minutes into the first overtime period, Gandolfo was taken down in the box for a second time, this time by Rinaudo, and this time a call was made. Hijazi calmly step up to the ball and put in the go-ahead goal into the bottom left corner.
“We came out knowing Mepham was a good team, but the game was about who wanted it more, and we wanted it,” said Gandolfo, who scored two goals against Farmingdale in the quarterfinals.
Mepham sparingly found chances against a stout Calhoun defense led by Hijazi, Talia Charidah and her sister Nora. The two sides played the next 10-minute overtime with no score as the Lady Colts held on for the victory.
“They [Mepham] played their hearts out and some of these kids went for 100 minutes straight,” said Mepham head coach Sam Foronjy. “I think that they gave it everything they had but it just wasn’t enough at that level of intensity.”
Calhoun will play No. 2 MacArthur (14-2-0) in the finals on Wednesday at 4 p.m. at the Denton Avenue Field in New Hyde Park.
“MacArthur is a very strong team and have a lot of key players. We are hoping to shut down a couple of their key players and just play quickly,” concluded Biscardi.