Katie O'Connor has plenty of good years left on the Ward Melville girls soccer team. Her five senior captains do not.
So the freshman forward did all she could to ensure that Ward Melville's "Fab Five" of Caysea Cohen, Adrianna Morra, Jordan Porretto, Ally Ramos and Lizzy Rullan would play at least one more game together. When they do, it will be the biggest game of their careers.
O'Connor had two goals and an assist to lead No. 1 Ward Melville to a 3-0 win over No. 4 West Islip Saturday in the Class AA semifinals as the Patriots advanced to the first county championship game in program history.
"It's fun playing with them," O'Connor said of her captains. "They treat us like anybody else. It's the best feeling to win this for them."
After two players collided at the top of the box, O'Connor retrieved the ball and fired from straightaway into the back of the net to put Ward Melville ahead 2-0 with 11:44 remaining. She added another goal just over two minutes later when she knocked a rebound off the keeper, who was ruled over the goal line.
O'Connor helped open the scoring just 4:37 into the game. She carried the ball down the sideline and sent a cross to sophomore Tara O'Hern, who tapped it in for a 1-0 lead.
"We played this game with a lot of heart and we're playing for our seniors," O'Hern said. "It was a huge game for them. We wanted to win it for them."
Scoring goals against Ramos and the Ward Melville defense is difficult enough as is. But without leading goal scorer Amanda Martinez, who missed the game because of injury, it was considerably more difficult for West Islip (15-4) to generate offense.
Chelsea Weir nearly tied the game off a throw-in by Kelsey Raschke but Ramos made a diving stop, one of her seven saves, to preserve her 12th shutout of the season.
Ward Melville (14-1-2) advances to play No. 2 Northport for the county championship at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday at Dowling Sports Complex.
The "Fab Five," teammates and best friends for the past four years, posed for a picture shortly after the game. But Ramos stressed that it's been more than just five girls that have led to the best season in program history.
"It's not just our senior captains," she said. "Everyone on the field contributes. We all did this together."