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Patriots fall to Beacon before seniors head to prom

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Before the fun and festivities of senior prom could be enjoyed, there were tears.

The Francis Lewis girls’ soccer team had just pushed defending city champion Beacon to penalty kicks, but did not prevail.

“It made us want to win and have the seniors go to prom happy and not upset, but you can’t look at them when they are crying,” Francis Lewis freshman Karin Backert said. “It’s really hard.”

Senior Jessie Diamond had a chance to force Beacon to have to make one more penalty kick if it wished to return to the city title game. Her shot was hit up off the bottom off the crossbar by Beacon goalkeeper Nora Barr and went straight down — without crossing the goal line.

The Blue Demons advanced 3−2 on penalty kicks in the PSAL Class A girls’ soccer quarterfinals at Tottenville High School on Staten Island last Thursday. The five of the seven Patriots seniors who decided to play and give up going to their prom that night on time then had to make the trip to the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury, L.I., after the emotional game. The game was moved up an hour to try to accommodate Francis Lewis.

“It was crazy,” Backart said. “No one wants to let each other down. We just wanted to do it for each other.”

Though Beacon created many more quality scoring chances throughout the game, it was Francis Lewis that scored first. Patriots Coach Roger Sarmuksnis had just gone ballistic on an appeared off−sides call on a throw−in, where the ball slipped behind the defense to Gena Koutsounadis. The official later explained that she was called for pushing off. Soon after, Laura Marmolejo shot a ball in the box that was deflected by Barr and then kicked home by Backert to make it 1−0 Francis Lewis (13−2) with just 2:30 left to play in the game.

“I just stuck my foot out,” Backert said.

The elation on the Patriots’ sideline was quickly subdued. Versatile defender Chelsea Davies played a through ball from well up the far side into the box that was tipped by Elsa Hardy and kicked into the far post by Alex Easton 30 seconds later to tie the score at 1.

“We were all really happy and I think that caught us off guard,” Backert said. “Beacon just came dead on.”

The Blue Demons’ (15−0) best chance in overtime came on a shot across the box to the far post that Lewis freshman goalkeeper Julia Bernhardt made a diving save on. The Patriots led after the first round of penalty kicks, but Beacon gained the advantage after Barr made a save to her left on a shot by Koutsounadis.

“On the field, they should have scored at least three, four goals,” Sarmuksnis said of Beacon.

His team is young, though, with seven freshman on the roster and six of them who get regular playing time. It was a tough ending to this season, but hopefully a promising start of things to come.

“We came a really long way,” Backert said. “We were just a bunch of girls who met at the beginning of the year. We just started to become a family. We just got closer and closer. We never let each other down. We just kept going.”

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