It couldn’t have come at a less opportune time. The Francis Lewis girls soccer team hadn’t given up a goal all season, a defensive wall that took the city by storm. But that wall gave way a bit in the championship game.
The Patriots fell 5-1 to Beacon in the PSAL “A” final at St. John’s University, a disheartening end to a program-changing season. It was the squad’s first-ever championship appearance as well as the first time a Queens team made it to the final since 2007.
“This is a history-making season. Up until this point we scored 90 goals and didn’t allow any,” said Francis Lewis coach Eleni Sotiriou. “It’s crazy for the girls. This is history in the making and I’m proud of my girls and they should be proud of themselves.”
Both squads notched three shots on goal in the first half and Lewis did its best to fall into its usual game plan of quick passes and attacking the goal. That was easier said than done, however, against a Beacon squad that boasted some serious speed across its roster.
“They gave it their all,” Sotiriou said of her squad’s early-game approach. “We held them out of the goal the first half and we were just staying confident, using the wings.”
The Blue Devils changed their approach coming out of the break—seizing possession and pushing the ball up the field. That set Francis Lewis’ otherwise impenetrable defensive line back on its toes.
And it didn’t take long for Beacon to get on the board.
Kate Diament worked the ball into the back corner of the net in the 47th minute, connecting on the game-changing goal from the top of the net and just out of reach of Patriots’ goalkeeper Elli Tsourapis.
“The atmosphere changed a lot,” said senior centerback Sarafina Smith. “My goalkeeper got a little stressed and then the defense got stressed, so I tried my best to keep them in there and keep their heads up. And that’s all I could have done.”
Beacon padded its lead six minutes later when Mikayla Alcorn drilled a perfect free kick into the back of the net on a shot that froze the entire Francis Lewis defense. Layla Devlin added to the Blue Devils’ cushion in the 65th minute on an assist from Georgia Eggers.
It was a position the Patriots weren’t at all used to being in and the squad struggled to regain its momentum, but Francis Lewis refused to go down without a fight. Jacklyn Lada—the hero of the squad’s semifinal victory—got Lewis on the board in the 66th, giving the Patriots just a bit of late-game life.
“On the sidelines we were just saying, there’s still 20 minutes left in this game,” Lada said. “Once we got one goal we were hoping the rest would come if we worked together.”
That was as much as the Patriots would get—Alcorn all but wrapped up the victory with a breakaway goal in the 70th minute—and Francis Lewis was left watching the clock as the minutes ticked down on an otherwise dominant season. It wasn’t the way the Patriots wanted it to end, but despite the tears that came with the final whistle, the squad did its best to focus on the positives.
“This is our first time ever making it to the finals,” Smith said, “so it was hard to lose, but it was fun to make it all the way here.”
©2016 Community News Group
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