By Owen O'Brien
Kaitlyn Tung knew when the ball was at the foot of Hailey Metzger in the closing minutes of a tied match where she needed to be. The senior midfielder charged the goal.
“I know her mindset and I knew she was taking the shot,” Tung said. “I knew there could be a rebound and I was going to be there.”
Her intuition paid off.
Metzger played a ball toward the goal from about 35 yards out and Tung corralled the rebound and scored with 1:40 left in the second half as MacArthur defeated South Side, 1-0, at Darcy Field in Rockville Centre in Nassau Conference A-I girls soccer action Thursday.
“I knew I had to kick it in and get a nice service and someone had to be there,” Metzger said. “And Kaitlyn was there.”
“Just finish it,” Tung thought. “I knew I had to (shoot with) one touch. If I did two, they’d be on me.”
MacArthur (5-0-1) and South Side (2-2-2) played to a scoreless tie in the first game of the season. This game had all the makings of the same result before Tung’s goal as Avery Testa had nine saves for South Side and Lexie Thompson stopped seven for MacArthur.
None of Thompson’s saves was bigger than her final one. After punching out a corner kick in the final 30 seconds of the contest, Thompson fully extended her arm to save a rebound and send the ball out of bounds with seven seconds left as the clock ran out.
“A little bit of nerves, it was really tight and we really wanted the ‘W,’ ” Thompson said. “I was telling myself I had to save it. The last few seconds, that would really hurt to let that in so just had to give it everything you got for that last one.”
MacArthur has yet to allow a goal all season, led by the strong goalkeeping of Thompson along with a backline including Ava Angiuli, Caitlin Barry, Hallie Bray and Meghan Wetzel.
“It’s a team effort in getting these shutouts,” Thompson said. “Not just me, not just the backline but definitely a good feeling to stay scoreless.”
Coach Steve Costello continues to be impressed with the tenacity of Tung in his first year as coach. He wasn’t surprised she was the one near the net to finish the goal.
“The next morning when I watch the film, the one thing that always jumps out at me is Kaitlyn Tung is tough as nails,” he said. “She’s skilled and she’s flashy … but she’s so tough and that’s what toughness gets you.”
But MacArthur was determined to exit with the victory over the defending Long Island Class A champions and state runner-ups. South Side has won the last two Nassau Class A titles, including defeating MacArthur, 2-0, in the final in the 2020-2021 school year.
“They took it from us once,” Tung said. Metzger added, “Not again. It wasn’t going to happen again.”