As difficult as it is to beat a quality opponent three times in the same season, Mepham accomplished the feat against Oceanside on the soccer pitch this fall and the latest decision — 2-1 last Friday — earned the Lady Pirates a trip to the Nassau Class AA semifinals.
Second-half goals by sophomore Samantha Picinich and freshman Erin Gilroy, and junior goalkeeper Nadine Simpson’s seven saves lifted fourth-seeded Mepham to a rare come-from-behind victory. Freshman Julia Duffy scored late in the first half for the fifth-seeded Lady Sailors, who hosted the game on their turf field due to weather conditions.
“Sometimes when we give up a goal, we put our heads down,” Mepham coach Samantha Foronjy said. “Today we were able to hang in there. We regrouped at halftime and our goal scorers found a way. We always get our share of chances. If there was anything we needed to do better, it was finish.”
It was the first game for the Lady Pirates (8-6-3 overall) since a 1-0 victory over MacArthur in the conference regular-season finale Oct. 22. They went on to lose in the semifinals to Massapequa the next day. Oceanside (5-8-2) was coming off a 3-0 first-round playoff win over Herricks on Oct. 26.
“It’s been a tough two weeks for everybody,” Lady Sailors coach Mariana Winchester said. “We played a strong game against Herricks to open the playoffs. The girls had to regroup and refocus today, and I thought they did a good job.
“The tough part is, some of them aren’t going home from here because their house has damage or power,” she added. “They’re going to stay with family or friends.”
Gilroy netted the game-winner with 15 minutes left in regulation off an assist from Gabby Weiner following a corner kick by Ashley Appel. It was Gilroy’s ninth goal of the season and fifth point in three games against Oceanside. She had two goals and one assist in a 3-2 triumph in the Conference AA-I opener on Sept. 12, and assisted on Appel’s game-winning tally in a 1-0 win in the Oct. 1 rematch.
“They got us by one goal every game,” Winchester said. “Today they came back strong, so we’ve got to compliment them.”
Though neither team saw action in nearly two weeks leading up to the quarterfinals due to Hurricane Sandy and a Nor’easter that slammed the area, Foronjy thought it was well-played game. “Both teams have a lot of heart,” she said. “We knew no matter when or where this game happened, it was going to be close.”
Duffy, who led the Lady Sailors on the year with five goals, opened the scoring by converting senior Laura Dwyer’s corner kick with 10:31 to go in the first half. Simpson made several point-blank saves to keep Mepham from falling into a deeper hole, and Picinich got the equalizer 13 minutes into the second half off a feed from Emily Schmitt.
“Nadine was All-County as a sweeper last year and jumped into the goalie position with no experience,” Foronjy said. “She’s played consistently well.”
Temple-bound senior keeper Emily Doherty made eight saves for Oceanside.