Girls Soccer Preview: No shortage of challenges for Tuckers

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Liz Lasota has been asked to take on a more offensive role for Mattituck.

The Mattituck High School girls soccer team is hardly in a comfort zone right now.

Not only did the Tuckers lose 13 players to graduation, but they lost players who have been mainstays in the program for years. They also lost a lot of offense, and will field a largely changed lineup in 2011.

How are things going so far?

“We’ve have some good moments and some poor moments,” said Ed Barbante, who has a 58-20-6 (.690) record in his six years as the team’s coach. “It’s growing pains right now.”

The Tuckers (9-5-3) saw their 2010 season end with a 1-0 loss to the League VII champion Center Moriches Red Devils on a controversial goal by defender Alexis Parlato in the Suffolk County Class B final. It was the third time Center Moriches defeated the Tuckers last year, outscoring them by a 5-0 count.

The Tuckers reached county finals in three of the last five years, winning one of them.

Mattituck’s road this year will not be an easy one. As a Class B team, it will play home-and-away games in League VII against Class A teams like the Shoreham-Wading River Wildcats, the Mount Sinai Mustangs and the Bayport-Blue Point Phantoms. Barbante said, “That’s six games right there that are very tough.”

And that’s not counting Center Moriches and the Babylon Panthers, who are not exactly slouches.

“There’s not going to be an easy game on the schedule, and we’ve got to bring it every single day,” said Barbante.

Liz Lasota, a senior forward/center midfielder who was an all-county pick last year, has been asked to assume a more offensive role.

“I told her flat out, ‘You need to put the ball in the back of the net,’ ” Barbante said. “She’s a player that can score with both feet. She’s got good one-on-one moves.”

Three other returning starters — junior right back Anna Goeller, junior stopper Lauren Guja and freshman forward Nikki Zurawski — bring much-needed experience.

Midfielders Maryanne Fitzgerald, Tracy Grim, Amanda Gatz and Nicole Murphy as well as forwards Alex Berkoski and Kaitlyn Doorhy could see enhanced roles. They were all reserve players last year.

A big change will be in goal. Courtney Birkmeier had been the team’s starting goalkeeper for four years, but has moved on, as has her backup, Jessica McDonald. A No. 1 goalkeeper has yet to emerge. A freshman, Abby Graeb, and two juniors, Stephanie Reisenberg and Melissa Siegfried, are vying for the starting position.

“That’s going to be the issue,” Barbante said. “We need a lot better production out of that spot than we’re getting right now.”

The other new additions are: outside marking back Natalie Troisi, outside marking back Shannon Gatz, outside marking back Kyle Freudenberg, stopper Jen Silleck, sweeper Lizzie Taylor, midfielder/forward Jessica Kwasnik, midfielder Sydney Sanders and midfielder Courtney Murphy.

“There might be some growing pains early on in the season,” Barbante said. “Hopefully we can correct them right away.”

BOB LIEPA FILE PHOTO | Nicole Busso, a junior midfielder, is one of Southold/Greenport's returning players.

Katy Smith had made her mark as a four-year varsity player for the Southold/Greenport Clippers. She played striker and center midfielder before her graduation from Southold High School in 2003. Now, she is back with the Clippers — as their coach.

“It’s a good feeling to be back on the soccer field,” said Smith, who takes the team over from Kevin McGoey, who went 15-14 in two years as coach.

The Clippers went 2-10 last year and did not have a junior varsity team.

Among the returning players are senior midfielder Kelly Bosco, senior defender Jessica Carlson, sophomore striker Justina Babcock and freshman striker Julie Van Gordon, who Smith said will make an impact. Also back are: senior striker Megan Melley, senior defender Meagan Glenn, junior midfielder Nicole Busso, junior midfielder Jessica Carr, freshman midfielder/defender Megan Van Bourgondien, freshman defender Isabelle Simon, junior defender/goalkeeper Shaniece Strickland, sophomore defender Britteny Bellomo, freshman midfielder Jasmine Fell, sophomore winger Cindy Van Bourgondien and freshman defender Ajsia Martocchia. Glenn, who had a knee injury, is waiting for medical clearance to practice.

The Clippers have a junior varsity team this year, and Smith indicated that the roster situation is fluid.

“I have told all the girls that anyone can be brought up at any time during the season,” she said. “I told them to keep working hard. Anyone can be brought up at any point.”

“It’s rebuilding,” she said. “I don’t have any worries or concerns about failure. I’m excited to be out there, and I want to rebuild the program.”

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