If you are a soccer goal scorer, there is a good chance you will be fouled, tripped, knocked down, kicked or physically manhandled by the opposition. Like it or not, it comes with the territory.
That can go double if you are one of the best.
Jill Golden understands that. The Southold/Greenport junior has cuts and nicks on her body to prove it.
“They’ll kick you,” Golden said after the First Settlers defeated Haldane, 2-1, in the Southeast Region Class C final in Coram on Friday. “One girl kicked me in the back. You just got to get back up. Honestly, I don’t get fazed by it because I know that I don’t have to score all the goals.”
Still, Golden certainly has scored more than her share of them this season, 33, the most by any girl on Long Island. She has combined pace, vision and knowledge of the game into making herself a lethal scorer.
“A lot of people don’t realize that she’s drawing a lot of attention,” said her father, Southold coach Chris Golden. “She’s getting knocked about. She got mugged, mugged [on one play]. That should have been a PK, and it wasn’t. She just gets back up and she keeps playing. She’s really come into her own this year as a player, maturity-wise. Great season.”
And that hasn’t been lost on her teammates.
“I’m sure all these teams know about Jill and they’re all probably watching, keeping an eye on her,” said co-captain Grace Syron, who connected for the equalizer off a Golden pass. “I’m very proud of Jill, especially being an underclassman. … She steps up and every time she gets knocked down, she works harder the next time and makes sure she gets the opportunity or sets somebody else up.”
Take, for example, what transpired in a 1-1 game with 26 minutes and 9 seconds left in the second half. Golden had been taken down inside the penalty area. She sent the ensuing penalty kick into the lower left corner past goalkeeper Abigail Platt for the game-winner.
“I was nervous, but also confident,” she said. “I am very confident taking PKs. So, if the team needs someone to call up for a PK, someone’s nervous, I can do it because even if I miss, I’m going to get back up, dust myself off and go for it again.”
Coach Golden had all the confidence in the world that player Golden would convert. He has seen his daughter come through many times in youth and high school soccer.
“We knew it,” he said. “I’ve seen her do it. This is not condescending in any way, but she’s been there for travel, for cup games and tournaments. You know what? She puts it down, she gets her mind set. She nails it. The thing with her is, and if you’re going to take it, you have to have the mindset that if it doesn’t go in, you got to play. You just got to go back out there. Her mindset is that she’s going to make it and she did.”
If you follow Settlers soccer you already know that Golden not only can shoot with accuracy, but is an accomplished playmaker as well. Her 16 assists rank her fourth among girls in Suffolk County and Long Island.
When asked whether she enjoys scoring goals or setting them up, Golden replied, “I mean everybody enjoys the feeling of putting it in the back of the net. I’ve had my fair share of moments. But honestly, on my travel team, I’m a distributor. I collect the ball and my touch is clean and pick my head up and set up my teammates. Honestly, I kind of enjoy the feeling of laying it off. I’m more proud of my assists because it’s hard to get.”
It was a good 20 minutes after the game and Golden still was a bundle of energy and enthusiasm. Perhaps it was the adrenaline still keeping her going. Or perhaps it was the fact that Golden and Syron planned to play a second game that night with their travel team, Skills United Soccer Academy at Ward Melville High School.
“I’m ready,” Golden said. “I still have a rush from winning.”
If Golden has any plans performing with SUSA this weekend, she will have to put them off. She will be participating in a state semifinal Allegany-Limestone is (Section VI, Buffalo region) at Homer High School Saturday.
Was she looking forward to visiting the Cortland area?
“Never been upstate before, so heck yes,” she said enthusiastically.
Photo caption: Southold/Greenport’s Jill Golden tries to ward off Haldane’s Catherine Dwyer. (Credit: Garret Meade)