Rather than say who would be at his girls soccer team’s game last Thursday evening, Southold/Greenport’s coach, Vaughn Locascio, banged out the names of those who, for a variety of reasons, wouldn’t be present.
No Jill Golden.
No Rosemary Volinski.
No Hannah Sutton.
No Annie Lincoln.
No Emily Perry.
No Grace Syron.
But the important thing was that the Clippers were there.
For the first time in an awfully long time, the Clippers are back in the Town of Brookhaven Summer League. The league can be seen as an aid to younger high school players, a bridge from the junior varsity to the varsity level, an opportunity to adjust to the faster pace of varsity soccer.
“We’re playing teams like Shoreham; we’re playing teams like Rocky Point, Comsewogue, Center Moriches, Port Jefferson,” Locascio said. “They get to see a lot of upper-level teams, so you get to see the style of soccer that they’re playing. By watching and playing that style of soccer, you’re able to pick up; you start seeing things. ‘Oh, I should try that.’ It makes you want to try these different things.”
Playing two days a week in the summer can also help a team build chemistry and gather momentum going into the start of preseason training in August. “I think that’s a huge thing,” said Locascio.
Locascio said he was gratified by the response he received from players when he went about gauging their interest in playing this summer. And so, a 20-player summer roster was assembled and the Clippers hit the field.
“I think it’s great to get all of our players together and just bond as a team and get ready for the upcoming [school] season,” said Raeann Berry, a senior forward who is being developed into an outside midfielder. “I think we’ve seen good competition and it’s eye-opening.”
Eye-opening indeed. The Clippers had yet to score a goal through their first two games, a 3-0 loss to Miller Place on June 30 and a 10-0 thrashing at the hands of Comsewogue last Thursday.
The blowout in last Thursday’s game at Diamond in the Pines in Coram comes with a good explanation. The Clippers played shorthanded for the entire 60-minute match. They started with nine players and were reduced to eight when Olivia Daddona injured her ankle in the first half.
Gina Gallagher and Ailis Micheline scored two goals each and Abby Ortiz assisted three times as the Warriors rolled, outshooting the Clippers, 22-0.
A lot of running was involved. The Clippers, understandably looking tired at the end, received praise from their coach for their effort.
“They played their hearts out defensively,” said Locascio.
Hayley Brigham, a sophomore goalkeeper who was moved to forward in the second half to give the Clippers some fresh legs while Masha Winkler was moved into goal, said: “It was very intimidating, but I knew my team was there, and I knew they were trying their best, so that’s all that matters. Our skills definitely improved today, just moving with the ball.”
The Clippers fielded a young team. Really young. Berry and Brigham were the only two team members from the last school season who played last Thursday. They were joined by newbies, some with previous junior varsity experience and some who played at the junior high school level last year.
Berry took the approach that, if it doesn’t kill you, it will make you stronger. She said her younger teammates can hold their heads high despite the loss. “I think they’re doing great, filling in big roles for players missing,” she said.
The summer league is also an opportunity for coaches to learn what new, younger player can and cannot do, and how they might fit into the team’s plans.
“It’s summer league, and what’s great about this is it gives me opportunities to see players like Mash [Masha Winkler], Rose [Rosie Mollica] and Sabrina [Basel]. I mean, Marie Mullen as a center back, whew! I got to tell you, she played travel soccer this year, she was playing as a defensive midfielder, but she’s got speed.”
The fact that 11 of the Clippers have played club soccer is an encouraging sign, too.
Said Berry, “I think we’ll be in a pretty good situation come fall.”