CORTLAND A late goal gave Section 8’s Massapequa a 2-1 win over North Rockland in the Class AA state final at SUNY Cortland Sunday.
Chief’s senior Alyssa Iannuzzi scored the go-ahead goal for Massapequa with 8:02 remaining in the game when she received a pass from MacKenzie Palmer on a free kick just outside the top-left corner of the box.
“We knew what we were supposed to do, and we have no excuses,” said North Rockland coach Vinny Apicella of the loss, the Red Raiders’ first this season. “We’re very proud of our kids. They played a great game.”
Set pieces proved to be a key component of the game.
Massapequa junior Olivia Stegner scored the Chiefs’ first goal on a scramble for the ball in front of the net following a corner in the 28th minute.
North Rockland (21-1-2) sophomore forward Amber Alfonzo headed in an Isabel Zayas’ corner less than two minutes later that proved to be crucial in stopping any momentum gained by the Chiefs (18-1-1) from Stegner’s goal.
“They got on top of us early, and then we showed who we were by coming back right away,” Apicella said.
Apicella was impressed with Alfonzo’s effort to get her head on the ball.
“I can’t believe (Alfonzo) jumped that high,” Apicella said. “She was one of the shortest kids there, and she got up over everybody. I don’t know how she did it, but it was unbelievable.”
Massapequa nearly took the lead two minutes into the half when it sent a shot off the cross bar and out. The Chiefs continued to create opportunities, taking nine shots in the half.
North Rockland was able to gather a push up front with about 10 minutes remaining and put two solid shots on goal.
Two minutes later Iannuzzi scored the game winner.
“(Massapequa) capitalized on their play,” said North Rockland senior goalie Shannon Robinson of the goal. “I guess we didn’t get to do what we wanted to do, but it’s ok.”
Apicella was happy with the Red Raiders’ growth throughout the season, something he hopes his team will recognize down the road.
“They got better and better and better,” Apicella said. “Once we get over the loss a little bit we’ll be able to see that a little bit more.”
Robinson stressed the effort North Rockland put in from the first day of preseason.
“We honestly gave our heart,” Robinson said. “I couldn’t have asked for more.”
The senior did have one request, though.
“It was just great,” said Robinson of the season. “I wish I could start it over.”