Wheatley battles back, tops Carle Place for title

Dylan Butler

Jamie Sellinger has known nothing but playoff failure in her career at Wheatley High School. 

But that changed this year and Sellinger is a big reason why. The senior goalkeeper made a pair of saves in a penalty kick shootout to help Wheatley win the Nassau Class B title Tuesday at Michael Tully Park in New Hyde Park. 

Wheatley won its first title since 2006, knocking off Carle Place, 3-1, on a penalty kick shootout after the teams played to a 1-1 deadlock after 110 minutes. 

“I’m just overwhelmed, really excited,” Sellinger said. “In the three years I’ve been on this team, this is the farthest I’ve been. I think the greatest part is no one ever thought we’d get here.”

The Wildcats lost in the opening round of the playoffs in each of her first three years on varsity, but Sellinger said this team’s solidarity helped carry them into unchartered territory. 

“We’re a family. We have dinners and we literally are sisters,” she said. “It’s the camaraderie. The first thing we said before we got on the field was we’re a family and that’s the only thing that matters.”

After a scoreless first half, Kiera Ackerina put top-seeded Carle Place (3-11-1) in front, getting behind the Wheatley defense – which protested to no avail that she was offside – and lobbed the ball over Jamie Sellinger in the 50th minute. 

Rachel Jozef equalized dramatically for Wheatley, getting behind the Carle Place defense and slotting the ball past Karla Gomes in the 77th minute. She also scored the lone goal in a 1-0 win over second-seeded Oyster Bay in the semifinals last Saturday. 

“I was doing it for my team and all the seniors out there,” the junior striker said. “I knew if we lost this, this was going to be the end for them. I don’t want to see that. I want to see us up in States, holding that trophy.”

 In the second overtime, third-seeded Wheatley (9-3-2) had an excellent chance to take the lead when Micki Wain was barged over in the box. But Gomes dived to her right to save Danielle Wassterman’s penalty kick. 

With no goals in either of the 10-minute overtime periods and an additional pair of 5-minute Golden Goal periods, the match went to penalty kicks. 

Allie LaMonica scored for Wheatley and Catherine Gambino equalized for Carle Place. 

After Wasserman converted her chance, Sellinger got her hand on a well-struck shot by Mackenzie Ehrling. The senior’s attempt sat on the goal line, seemingly in suspended animation. 

Ehrling raised her arms in protest, claiming it crossed the line and after a few curious moments, Sellinger grabbed the ball to end a bizarre sequence. 

“It never went in,” Sellinger said. “It just bounced on the line and I didn’t know I had to retouch it.”

Gomes responded by saving Alana Leahy’s shot as the shootout entered the fourth round. 

Buoyed by her save against Ehrling, Sellinger dived to her right to deny Carley Ackerina, putting the Class B championship on the left foot of Adena Bernot. 

“It was really nerve wracking,” Bernot said. “It did help that if I missed, it wouldn’t have ended the game. I still wanted to make it in to make it easier for everyone else.”

The sophomore defender did end it, scoring to Gomes’ left to set off a wild celebration seven years in the making for Wheatley, which will play Center Moriches in the LIC Saturday at Michael Tully Park. 

“I didn’t know what to think,” Bernot said. “I was so happy.”

She wasn’t the only one. 

“I was speechless,” Jozef said. “I admit it, I was crying. It was really a nice feeling. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that.”

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Dylan Butler

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