West Hempstead barreled into the Nassau Class A girls’ soccer playoffs with back-to-back four-goal performances to earn the No. 14 seed, and last Friday gave third-seeded Clarke all it could handle in a first-round battle of Rams.
Clarke sophomore Hope Quinonez burst West Hempstead’s bubble with her eighth goal of the season 20 seconds into the second half and the hosts advanced to the quarterfinals with a 3-0 victory. Junior Samantha Goodwin provided an insurance goal with 16 minutes remaining, and freshman Jennifer Wahlig iced it with less than two minutes to go.
“They played us tough,” Clarke coach Becky Wachsberger said. “They did a great job defending us in the first half, so I told the girls we needed to possess the ball more in the second half and keep working hard.
“I thought the first five minutes of the second half would be super-important,” she added. “Once we got that early goal, the pressure was all on them.”
Quinonez snuck behind the defense after taking a pass from sophomore Nicole Russell and beat West Hempstead junior goalkeeper Jackie Christenson (five saves) with a hard shot along the ground to set the tone for the second half. The quick strike set a new team record for fastest goal to begin a half, Wachsberger said. Quinonez held the previous mark of 24 seconds.
“That goal gave us a lot of energy,” Clarke senior defender Nicole Wahlig said. “When we play with fire, we’re very tough to beat.”