South Side's Kelsey Ford recently missed some time with an injury, but the defender didn't miss a beat in her first game back Sunday, assisting on two goals as the top-ranked Lady Cyclones defeated the fourth-seeded Plainedge Lady Red Devils 3-0 in the Nassau Class A semifinals at Cold Spring Harbor High School.
Christina Klaum, Jess Hawley and Katie Ford all scored for the Lady Cyclones, who are in search of their second consecutive Nassau County title after defeating Division 3-2 last year.
Sunday's shutout marks the third consecutive shutout of the playoffs for the Lady Cyclones, who shut out Mineola 6-0 in the first round and Wantagh 5-0 in the quarterfinals.
"The offense finished, the defense didn't let anything in back and on the sideline everyone is always keeping [the team] up," Kelsey Ford said after the win.
South Side was held off the board for the first 29 minutes Sunday until Kelsey Ford dropped a cross inside of the 18-yard box that Klaum flicked with a quick header off of the crossbar. Klaum then beat Plainedge goalie Dolores Diemicke and a defender to the loose ball and buried her own rebound for a 1-0 lead.
The Lady Cyclones clung to a one-goal lead at the half.
South Side's Alex Reis nearly gave her team a 2-0 lead three minutes into the second half, but a diving save by Diemicke kept the game within Plainedge's reach for the moment.
On the ensuing corner kick, Kelsey Ford found the foot of Hawley, who one-timed the cross out of midair, off a defender and into the net for a 2-0 lead.
With less than nine minutes remaining, Kelsey Ford struck again, crossing the ball into the box from 35 yards out and finding the foot of Katie Ford, who deflected the ball into the side of the net for a 3-0 lead.
"I think our team has worked hard to build from defense to offense, so I just tried to look for my forwards up top and I tried to cross it long to make something happen up there," Kelsey Ford said.
"Kelsey has such grace weaving in and out and taking shots," South Side head coach Shannon McEntee said. "... We're glad to have her back because she does have that presence, she's got that great cross, she sees the weak side and, obviously, made connections."
The Lady Cyclones will now play the No. 2 Garden City Lady Trojans for the Nassau County Class A championship at 12:30 p.m. Monday at Cold Spring Harbor High School.