One thing is certain for the Mattituck High School girls soccer team this season: no one will be wanting for playing time.
With a team that will have 13 or 14 players at the maximum, players starting a game on the bench should feel like regulars with the playing time they will get.
“With a smaller roster, everyone is going to be a contributor on the team,” coach Malynda Nicol said. “As a coach, I could not ask for a tighter knit bunch of girls.
If injuries pop up, Nicol said that she would not hesitate reaching down to the 18-player junior varsity team for some help.
Even with a smaller roster, the Tuckers still are hopeful as they prepare for their Suffolk County League VII season. They want to return to the county Class B tournament.
“I have high goals for the team — do better this year than what they did last year,” said Nicol, whose 9-5-2 team lost to Center Moriches in a county semifinal. “I would like to play more possession style. I expect the younger girls to step in and get in there.”
Mattituck suffered a big loss without playing a game when senior forward Abby Graeb tore an anterior cruciate ligament during the summer and was sidelined for the season.
“It was unfortunate for Abby and unfortunate for the team,” Nicol said. “She was an integral part of the team for a long time. It’s a bummer. … She’s looking to have a leadership role with the team.”
Nicol will be counting on five seniors to be the experienced core of the squad — defenders Madison Kent, Sarah Pfennig and Nikki Zurawski, who will attend Sacred Heart University (Conn.) next year, and midfielders Trish Brisotti, who will attend C.W. Post to play lacrosse, and Courtney Murphy.
“We have a great group of seniors,” Nicol said. “They’re all leaders in their own way.
“All our seniors are hungry. It’s their last year. They’re all looking to go out with a bang.”
That quintet will be helped by four sophomores: midfielders Corrine Reda, Catherine Hayes and Amy Macaluso and forward Alya Ayoub. “We’re looking for them to take it to the next level,” Nicol said.
The junior class is quite slim with goalkeeper Emma Fasolino and midfielder Hannah Fitzgerald.
Two freshmen, midfielder/defender Chelsea Marlborough and forward Alex Beebe, should see plenty of playing time with the opportunity to fill Graeb’s shoes.
For the first time in many summers, the Tuckers did not compete in the Town of Brookhaven Summer League. Instead, they participated in a less formal league, the East End Summer League, which was a lot closer to the players’ homes. Teams from Westhampton Beach, Southampton, Hampton Bays, Southold/Greenport, Bishop McGann-Mercy, Eastport/South Manor, Longwood and the Mattituck alumni had teams.
“It’s hard to get to Brookhaven when many of the players had summer jobs,” Nicol said. “It was scrimmages, but the girls got some good competition.”
The Tuckers will discover their fall competition soon enough.
The bar certainly has been raised for Southold/Greenport (7-8-1).
Instead of competing in Class C, the Clippers find themselves with a greater challenge in Class B.
The new coach, Vaughn Locascio, welcomes what lies ahead for his team.
“We want to get back to where we were last year — the final game — the county championship,” he said.
The Clippers lost a heart-breaker to The Stony Brook School in the Class C final via penalty kicks, 3-1, after a losing a two-goal lead and finding themselves in a 3-3 tie after regulation and overtime.
This year they are a hungry side that is bolstered by 11 returning seniors.
“With the talent that we have, there’s no reason why we can’t get back,” Locascio said. “That’s our goal.”
The team captains, senior Megan Van Bourgondien and junior Rosemary Volinski, are expected to be vital to the Clippers’ success. They can make an impact at several positions.
Of Van Bourgondien, Loscascio said: “She has great leadership qualities and encourages all the girls. She has great vision on the field. She has great ball skill and the ability to shoot the ball.”
Loscascio called Volinski a “very versatile player. It’s a matter of where she gets to play to our strengths. We’re still trying to figure it out.”
The new coach certainly has liked what he has seen of the rest of the team.
“They’re really coming together as a team,” he said, adding that he has been impressed with the Clippers’ enthusiasm and attentiveness.
“They listen to what I have to say,” he said. “They take it and learn and they put it into practice. We’re going to be a tough team to beat.”
A graduate of Mount Sinai High School, Locascio played at C.W. Post before he entered coaching. He earned a National Soccer Coaches Association of America regional diploma before guiding the girls varsity program at New Hyde Park Memorial High School for several years.
After Katy Smith left as Southold/Greenport’s coach, the Islip resident saw a posting for the position. He said, “I just wanted the opportunity to work with the girls and here we are.”