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Oct 30, 2019 9:41 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Southampton Girls Soccer Drops Playoff Game At Babylon

Southampton senior goalkeeper Angely Ramirez boots the ball skyward in the Lady Mariners' showdown with Babylon. BRETT MAUSER
Oct 30, 2019 9:51 AM

Emotions were raw on the sidelines. The Southampton girls soccer team had suffered a 2-0 loss at the hands of top-seeded Babylon in the Suffolk County Class B semifinals, and the result marked the end of their seasons, and for some players, their careers.

Yet mixed in with the tears on Tuesday night was a healthy serving of hope. This season, the Lady Mariners, with just one senior starter, had taken several steps toward their ultimate goal of a county title, including staying stride for stride with one of Suffolk’s thoroughbreds under the lights at Joe DeLucia Field.

“These girls have worked hard all year, and every single game we have gotten better and better,” said first-year head coach Sean Zay. “The way I see it, we have to beat Babylon once in the next three years. We didn’t get this one, but we have two more shots. We’re a young team, and they’re a young team, so next year I definitely see us in the county finals.”

It had been barely a month since Babylon steamrolled Southampton on the East End, 7-0. Yet a stellar second half to the season, complete with some emphatic wins of their own, convinced the Lady Mariners that they could stay with the Lady Panthers in their rematch.

And if it didn’t, a hard-fought scoreless first half surely did. The Southampton defense kept Babylon’s talented attackers from getting clean strikes, and anything that got through was turned away by the Lady Mariners’ lone senior starter, goalkeeper Angely Ramirez (eight saves).

And then, amid a steady drizzle, Southampton (8-9) seemed to find its footing offensively late in the first half and then early in the second. Before intermission, a low crossing pass from sophomore Ellie Avallone was headed for a charging freshman Taylor Zukosky only to be gobbled up by Babylon keeper Emma Ward. Just 20 seconds had elapsed in the second when Avallone gathered a looping pass into the box only to have her shot stopped. A minute later, she found space on the left side but couldn’t steer a centering pass to a teammate.

“We thought that if we ran the clock and kept goals off the board, the pressure moves to them and off of us,” Zay said. “You could see it. When you’re the underdog, the longer you can stay in things, the more pressure it puts on the other team.”

Babylon (12-5) finally broke through with 22:57 remaining as sophomore Campbell Stein gathered a through ball from freshman Ashley Bell inside the Lady Mariner box, warded off a defender and blasted a rocket low, just to Ramirez’ right, to break the scoreless tie.

Southampton could fathom notching an equalizer then, but when the deficit swelled to two on Stein’s second score — a penalty kick that Ramirez got a piece of— with 17:20 remaining, the challenge seemed insurmountable. Babylon’s defense packed it in tight, preventing the Lady Mariners from mustering a shot on goal until late, when Ward (five saves) halted a strike by Southampton freshman Juliette Archer in the waning seconds.

While the Lady Mariners’ season came to a close, Babylon will face second-seeded Mattituck/Southold/Greenport on Saturday for the county title.

“We have shown that we can put balls in the net, but we have to do it in the big game,” Zay said. “To beat teams like this, we have to finish. We knew we could play with them. We just had to convert on the shots that we had and we just didn’t.”

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