Murphy finds the mark, twice

Shoreham-Wading River goalkeeper Kelly Wynkoop and defender Alyson De Vita were unable to prevent Mattituck’s Nicole Murphy from scoring her second goal on this shot.

MOUNT SINAI — Goal scoring can be a tricky thing. Many a soccer player has been frustrated over how difficult the seemingly simple act of putting a ball into a net can be.

Nicole Murphy can sympathize. She has had her moments, too, when she has come so close to scoring, only to be disappointed in the end. It can be aggravating.

“Trust me, it is,” she said.

Thursday, though, wasn’t one of those days for Murphy. She scored twice, her first two goals of the Town of Brookhaven Summer League season, as Mattituck downed a shorthanded Shoreham-Wading River team, 3-0, on the field turf at The Wedge. Lauren Guja had scored the opening goal before Murphy, a center midfielder who will enter her sophomore year, struck for the second and third goals on either side of halftime. The Tuckers brought their record to 4-4-1 while the Wildcats dropped to 6-3.

“In the previous games I’ve had shots on goal,” Murphy said. “They’ve either gone wide or too high, so it feels good to finally get them in. It feels good. I’m happy about leaving this game right now.”

As one of Mattituck’s young, up-and-coming players, Murphy has good cause to feel upbeat. She played for Mattituck’s junior varsity team last fall before being brought up to the varsity team for the playoffs, and hopes to win a place on the varsity squad for the start of the school season.

“I’ve seen her play, and I always wanted her to get pulled up, so I know how much she has in her,” Mattituck senior Morgan Zuhoski said. “She’ll be good for us. Even during practices, she showed a lot.”

Murphy sees herself more as a distributor of the ball, feeding teammates on the wings, but on Thursday she showed that she can finish, too.

Mattituck started the match with 10 players, but had 11 for most of the way while the Wildcats had only seven players available for the 60-minute game. The Tuckers’ 11th player, Sara Britt, stepped onto the field late in the first half.

Murphy took five shots, scoring on two of the first three of them. She fired in her first goal after a failed clearance attempt by the Wildcats. Murphy’s second goal was set up by a nice play from Melissa Milowski. Milowski chased down a ball before it could cross the endline and centered the ball in front of the goalmouth, from where Murphy was able to beat goalkeeper Kelly Wynkoop and defender Alyson De Vita to the ball before poking it in.

Mattituck held a 24-1 shots advantage and put 14 of those shots on target. Wynkoop was kept busy, making 11 saves. Her counterpart, Maille McDermott, was called upon for only one save.

“They’re looking great so far this year,” said Mattituck’s assistant coach, Nicole Barbante, who ran the team in the absence of her younger brother, Tuckers Coach Ed Barbante. “They’re getting acclimated to one another and we’re testing out different things. We were able to move girls around in different positions and let them get more comfortable with playing and more two-touch passing so that they could move the ball around better.”

Nicole Barbante, who is herself a former soccer and track and field star for Shoreham-Wading River, said: “We have a lot of seniors this year. They’re just getting used to playing with one another, and that’s the great thing with summer ball. You can kind of play around with different positions and you can try to get a feel before school ball starts.”

Mattituck has proven veteran players such as Amber Mello, Courtney Birkmier, Fiona Gorman, Liz Lasota and Zuhoski, not to mention other talented players such as Veronica Stelzer, Rebekah Smith and Murphy.

“I think the team is going to be rock solid, honestly,” Murphy said. “I’ve always loved watching [the] varsity team, and now getting to play with them is a big rush.”

Scoring goals every now and then isn’t too bad, either.

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