Rafael Morais inherits a Mattituck High School girls soccer team that finished 7-8-1 overall and was eliminated in the Suffolk County Class B semifinals, but he has some very, very high hopes for this season. His goal is to win the New York State championship.
The Tuckers accomplished that feat for the first and only time in 2005.
“Our ultimate goal, as the rest of the teams in our conference, is to head to the New York State championship,” said Morais, who replaced Malynda Nichol as coach. “Some may think that may be a long shot after last year, but I don’t. The state championship may very well be a chance of a lifetime for some of these players. For the players who may not play in college and even the ones who do, winning a state championship is a huge accomplishment, and they may not encounter this type of opportunity again.
“Obviously we have to shoot to win counties first, and we are prepared to take one step at a time, but we do have the NYS championship game in the back of our minds. It is going to take a lot of hard work and dedication but I think these girls are up for the challenge.”
Three returning players are expected to play key roles — juniors Jane DiGregorio, a forward; Chelsea Marlborough, a defender; and senior midfielder Catherine Hayes.
“Jane is a true forward; she has speed and knows the correct runs,” Morais said. “She’s also extremely vocal and has great potential to be one of the top goal scorers.
“Chelsea has been a great leader since day one. She is respected by all players, on and off the field. She is willing to sacrifice for the good of the team. Chelsea is a hard worker that every coach dreams of having.”
Hayes is the youngest sibling of a soccer family that has helped define Mattituck soccer success the past two decades.
“She has amazing vision and understanding for the game,” Morais said.
Southold/Greenport has some young ideas this season.
The Clippers (6-8-1) have only one senior back — midfielder/forward Emily Perry -— from a team that missed out on reaching the Suffolk Class C Tournament on an 11th-hour goal and loss to Bishop-McGann Mercy in the final League VII regular-season game.
“We don’t want that feeling again,” coach Vaughn Locascio said. “That is a driving force this season.”
Returning to the postseason is the No. 1 goal.
“Everybody talks about states and counties,” Locascio said. “We want to make the playoffs. … I told the girls you can use past games as motivators, but you can’t live in the past. If we can maintain a level of motivation, the playoffs are a possibility for us.”
The Clippers’ hopes primarily will rest on the shoulders of several underclassmen.
Defensively, they are in good hands and good feet with three juniors — goalkeeper Hayley Brigham and defenders Grace Syron and Amy Lincoln.
“I’m expecting her to take another step with her goalkeeping,” Locascio said of Brigham. “She’s super competitive.”
Syron is an All-State center back. “Technically and tactically she is a great player,” Locascio said. “I hope she gets up to where she was last year. She’s a great personality on the team.”
Junior Lucie Showalter is a converted outside back whom Locascio hopes will excel at forward. “She’s aggressive,” he said. “She has a good shot.”
Sophomore forward Jill Golden, the daughter of Greenport athletic director and boys soccer coach Chris Golden who has played on the varsity since she was in middle school, has been a revelation in camp.
“Her mindset is the best I’ve seen,” Locascio said. “She’s motivated this year. She [is ready] to take the game to the next level.”
Photo caption: Mattituck intends to get a big kick out of the new season under the direction of its new coach. (Credit: Garret Meade, file)