Girls soccer team reflects on first season combining schools

MSG Shut Out In LIC ‘B’ Final

The wind wasn’t blowing Mattituck/Southold/Greenport’s way in the Long Island Class B final Saturday. But the girls know they’ve moved in a positive direction from the start of the season, even after a 2-0 loss to Wheatley November 3.

“We used to kick the ball up and down the field and we’ve come a long way with possessing the ball,” Mattituck senior right midfielder Francesca Vasile-Cozzo said. “The first game, we were so, so bad. But we weren’t giving up for anything.”

With a dump-and-chase mentality, MSG lost its first six games of the season mainly to Class A teams. All but one, a 3-2 loss to West Babylon September 20, were shutouts.

After winning the next three games, one being a 7-0 shutout of Amityville that broke the losing streak, MSG lost two of the next three before going on a five-game tear leading into the Long Island championship.

“We’ve come so far as a team,” said Southold senior Jillian Golden, who scored all three regulation goals, the last with 32 seconds left, to send the Suffolk County final game into overtime. Vasile-Cozzo eventually won the game with her penalty kick in the shootout to help the team advance.

MSG struggled to get the ball through midfield at Islip High School Saturday, but was able to make some passes and got to goal twice, where West Babylon’s Cecilia Jozef was up to the task. Some would-be shots also rolled across the box as wind gusts knocked the ball out of bounds throughout the afternoon.

It’s the first time the three schools combined to make a soccer team. Golden said she thinks the combination created an environment for athletes to thrive, working on using skill to get the team as far as it did. MSG finished the season 9-9.

“I’m so incredibly proud of everyone,” goalkeeper Sarah Santacroce said. “We made history by making this team. We made history by making the playoffs. We made history winning the county finals, and we made history making it to the Long Island championship. We’re history-makers across the board.”

The Mattituck junior made six stops through the first half and into the second, giving up one goal at 1:48. After Wheatley’s Jozef made a breakaway save less than three minutes into the second half, Isa Rios went on her own breakaway five minutes later, beating Santacroce before a combination of the wind and Saira Bachez’s defense cleared the ball from the goal line. Rebecca Sparacio put Wheatley on the board off a cross from Rios, and the pair connected for the final goal with 14:59 left to play, when Rios had another breakaway chance off a pass from Sparacio, and this time converted her opportunity, scoring off her own rebound.

Wheatley advances to its second state semifinal in three years. Southold senior goalkeeper Krissy Worysz came in midway through the second half and made two saves.

desiree@indyeastend.com