The Mattituck High School girls soccer team enters the season with some young ideas.
With five starters graduated and only two seniors returning, coach Malynda Nichol is expecting several underclassmen to step up to keep the Tuckers competitive and then some.
“Although we lost players, we are feeling really good about the year,” she said. “We have a core and foundation to build upon and spring us forward.”
Both seniors are expected to play important roles for Mattituck (9-6-1) — goalkeeper Emma Fasolino and center back Hannah Fitzgerald, who has a dominant left foot.
Junior center midfielder Catherine Hayes, the last of seven siblings to play soccer at the school now that older brothers Paul and James have graduated, will run the show alongside sophomore Corinne Reda.
Three others who saw playing time in 2014 will form the forward line — sophomore Jane DiGregorio, who scored twice, including the game-winner in a 3-2 playoff win over Bishop McGann-Mercy last year, sophomore Alex Beebe and junior Alya Ayoub.
“They stepped to the plate and played very well,” Nichol said.
As did junior midfielder Amy Macaluso, who has played since she was a freshman. She has impressed Nichol with the “speed and tenacity that she brings to the game.”
Sophomore Chelsea Marlborough is slated to start in central defense.
The fact that many players have performed together for a while has given Nichol encouragement.
“All of the players have grown together to play as a unit,” she said. “They are more confident in their ability.”
Nichol felt that was a team strength. “They have been working together as a common goal that they are supporting each other on and off the field,” she said. “Another strength is they’re all hard working to reach their goals while they’re having fun.”
Eliminated by Port Jefferson, 1-0, in the Suffolk County Class B semifinals in 2014, the Tuckers want to go further this year.
“You can’t set the bar low and say you just want to win the playoffs,” she said. “You can’t say you just want to win the counties. You want to win the states.”
Southold/Greenport enters the season with plenty of preparation and experience as many girls played travel ball for the first time with Long Island Junior Soccer League teams from Mattituck and Center Moriches and the varsity side participated in the Town of Brookhaven Summer League for the first time.
The Clippers finished 0-8 in the summer league and were outscored, 29-1, but that did not deter coach Vaughn Locascio’s enthusiasm entering the season.
“It was really good for us,” he said. “It kept the girls together and it kept their skills sharp.”
That carried over to the varsity side.
“We had a great preseason camp; we really bonded,” Locascio said. “The upperclassmen really took a leadership role to show the younger players how the game is played.
“The group of girls is so coachable, so flexible. They put the team before themselves. It’s a huge strength, the way they push each other, cheer for each other, the camaraderie.”
Four players form the Clippers’ core: Senior midfielder Rosemary Volinski, an all-Suffolk County selection, will either be a central or attacking midfielder, whatever the situation calls for; sophomore center back Grace Syron, senior midfielder Raeann Berry and sophomore goalkeeper Hayley Brigham.
“Ultimately, they’re all going to have a big impact on the team,” Locascio said.
Locascio wants the Clippers (6-8-2) to return to the playoffs. As the sixth seed in last year’s Suffolk Class B tournament, they were eliminated by Center Moriches, 6-0, in the quarterfinals.
“I want to build on last year,” he said. “I want to beat our record from last year, winning the counties, winning a championship. The sky’s the limit.”
Photo: Senior midfielder Raeann Berry and her Southold/Greenport teammates sharpened their skills by playing in a summer league. (Credit: Daniel De Mato, file)