The girls remaining from the 2010 Mepham soccer team remember very well of the 2-1 defeat Oceanside handed them in the Class AA quarterfinals exactly one year ago. On Tuesday, the Lady Pirates of 2011 made sure this time would result in a different outcome.
No. 4 Mepham topped No. 5 Oceanside by a slim 1-0 score behind an early goal from junior Gabby Weiner. Senior goalkeeper Alexa Rinaudo came up large time and time again for her team with eight saves to preserve the quarterfinal win over the visiting Lady Sailors.
“As soon as we scored a goal, we knew we could shift our focus back on playing defense,” first-year Mepham head coach Sam Foronjy said. “I think our next game now is going to be a really tough game, a really good game. I like that we are going up against a school in the district now.”
It was apparent of the pace in which the Lady Pirates were striving for in the early minutes on their home field. In the 12th minute, Weiner collected a pass from sophomore Samantha Trupo to put in the goal past diving Oceanside goalkeeper Emily Doherty.
Mepham didn’t want to settle for one goal, as they nearly found the net again off of a pair of corner kicks soon thereafter. Holding on to the lead just before halftime, Rinaudo came up with a pair of saves mixed in with a small amount of luck as an Oceanside attempt grazed the left goal post before settling into the senior keepers’ gloves.
In the second half, solid defense led by Trupo, sophomore Nadine Simpson and sophomore Emily Schmitt, who was moved back from midfield, made offensive chances tough to come by for the Lady Sailors.
With just more than 20 minutes remaining, Rinaudo collected another key save, but witnessed the next Oceanside attempt sail over her left shoulder only to deflect off of the crossbar. The lucky break was the closest Oceanside would get to the knotting up the game, as Mepham pulled out a hard-fought 1-0 victory.
“We know they just had a game yesterday, so we wanted to tire them out after we scored,” Schmitt said. “We started our season with Calhoun in a scrimmage, but we know we need to work hard in practice and know we can do this and keep going against them. We have to play our defensive game like we did today [against Oceanside] and use our opportunities on offense.”
Mepham, which received a first-round bye before its Tuesday win, will move on to play No. 9 Calhoun, which plays its homes games just a short bus ride over in neighboring Merrick. The Lady Colts recently upset top-seeded Farmingdale on Monday in a 2-1 overtime victory.
The Class AA semifinal matchup between Mepham and Calhoun will take place on Friday afternoon at the Denton Avenue Field in New Hyde Park.