By Marquel Slaughter
Special to The News
CORTLAND – Clarence’s latest state final four loss might have been the toughest one to take.
Massapequa scored the game-winning goal in the fourth minute of the first overtime period, dropping Clarence, 1-0, in double overtime of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class AA girls soccer semifinals Saturday at the Cortland State Stadium Complex.
Massapequa will play Baldwinsville (17-2) of Section III for the state championship at 3 p.m. today at Cortland State. The state-ranked No. 5 Chiefs will be in their fifth straight state final.
Clarence (17-3-1), ranked second in the state and appeareing in its fourth straight state semifinal, played without sophomore left back Isabelle Andzell, who was sidelined with an injury.
“Normally, a team would come in afraid of them … but we came in completely confident,” Clarence coach David Stephan said. “I thought our performance was good enough, despite our injuries.”
Clarence’s conceding goal was a heartbreaker. Senior goalkeeper Grace Fabian (six saves) left the box to make a stop on the left side.
Massapequa junior Kate Fiola was credited with the goal, sending a slow-rolling shot toward the net. Junior defender Cassandra Bykowicz collided with teammate Amanda Bracci on an attempt to clear the shot, misdirecting the ball into the net.
“The goal we scored was a little bit fluky, but that’s what happens when you shoot,” said Massapequa coach Bruce Stegner, whose team eliminated Clarence in the state semis for the third time in four seasons.
“I tried covering for (Fabian),” said Bykowicz, whom Stephan referred to as the best defender in WNY. “There was some miscommunication.”
Fabian and Massapequa goalkeeper Haylee Poltorak (five saves) traded stops in the first half, which was played in sub-30 degree temperatures.
Fabian stopped a Morgan Carmada shot from inside the box in the early going. She even made a diving save in the 18th. Clarence junior Emma Faso sent a hard shot from the right side in the 37th to no avail.
Fabian carried her strong play into the second half with a diving stop in the 58th. A header by Massapequa’s Kayla Mushorn was too high in the 69th. Clarence sophomore Olivia Argentieri’s shot just sailed over the crossbar in the 70th. Carmada’s header was also too high when she received a corner kick in the 71st.
The best chance to end the game in regulation came in the 77th. Mushorn’s shot from about 30 yards out sailed through Fabian’s hands and bounced off the crossbar.
Fans who endured the frigid weather had to wait until 84 minutes for a goal. The Chiefs almost widened their lead before Fabian’s diving stop in the seventh minute of the second overtime period.
Clarence players were quite lively postgame in spite of a crushing defeat.
“Everything just seemed different this year. We’re all just excited and happy,” Fabian said. “We’re just a family this year.”
“We’re just happy to be back,” Stephan said. “I’m proud of the girls. I don’t think we expected it, but we made it back to the final four.”
Story topics: Clarence