No pain, no gain.
The Southold/Greenport high school girls soccer team knows what that’s all about. Southold was facing the real potential of trouble. As if it wasn’t enough that defender Marie Mullen’s playing status Monday was questionable with an ailing ankle, goalkeeper Hayley Brigham was out with a hairline fracture/third-degree sprain of her right wrist. Beyond that, the First Settlers have been banged up with bumps and bruises.
And, oh yes, Center Moriches was in town. That would be Center Moriches, as in the 2016 Suffolk County Class B finalist.
The potential for disaster was staring the First Settlers square in the face.
“We’re all hurting,” Southold forward Jill Golden said. “Hayley and Marie being out is a big deal, but players definitely can step up.”
They did. It was Southold that put the hurt on Center Moriches, 4-1, as Grace Syron scored twice at Greenport High School’s Dorrie Jackson Memorial Field. The First Settlers (5-1 overall and in League VII) did it with an emergency goalkeeper, freshman Saira Bachez, and with Mullen playing on a bad ankle.
“I was honestly worried and I am a little surprised because I knew Center Moriches was going to be tough,” said Syron.
After Brigham got hurt last week in a game against Stony Brook, Bachez, normally a midfielder/forward, volunteered to step in goal. Well protected behind a defense that at various times included Sabrina Basel, Annie Lincoln, Mullen, Kate Baumann and Hannah Sutton, Bachez made three saves and did not make a mistake. She couldn’t be faulted for the well-taken goal by Center Moriches’ Lola Kochanskyj, set up by Anna Ricci, that made the score 3-1 with 19 minutes, 58 seconds left.
“I thought Saira did outstanding,” said coach Chris Golden.
And then there was the play of Syron. The senior center midfielder may have calmed Southold nerves 50 seconds into the match when she cut inside and blasted a right-footed effort that got the better of goalkeeper Allison Carpenter.
Syron later sealed the result with her fifth goal of the season. Jill Golden got her head to a Sutton corner kick and with the ball floating near the goal line, Syron headed it home with 9:29 left to play.
“You’re looking at one of the dominant players in our league, and not just from a physical standpoint,” Chris Golden said of Syron. “Her technical and skill level, combined with her physical gifts, make her dominant. She really does a great job in that middle of the field.”
Southold had stormed to a 2-0 lead 4:03 into the game. Lucie Showalter laid a long ball down the right wing for Jill Golden, who knew what to do with it. Golden has a team-leading seven goals and eight assists this season.
Mullen came through with her first goal of the campaign, launching a long-range shot 2:18 into the second half.
“Marie did what she was capable of doing,” Chris Golden said. “I probably pushed her a little more than I wanted to, only because [I was] trying to find some rest for some other players.”
Center Moriches coach Sara Sullivan said of the First Settlers: “They are very talented. They have a good group of girls out there.”
Center Moriches (5-3, 5-2) is a young team, with 10 new players, including three eighth-graders and five freshmen.
Speaking of her teammates, Syron said, “They’re always very good and they can always step up and rise to the occasion, but today I was extra proud of them.”
Southold is largely unchanged, personnel-wise, from the team that reached the Suffolk Class C final last year. The First Settlers sense an opportunity to go further this fall.
“It’s our time. It’s our time to win,” Jill Golden said. “Everyone has more experience. Touches are better. Decision-making, they have stuff to call upon when they want to play in the game. It’s that one-year difference. I think we’re going to make it far.”
Monday’s game wouldn’t have been complete without another injury. Midfielder Sam Dunne split a lip going for a header when heads collided. She returned to field, though, and played her best game this year, said Chris Golden.
He said, “All’s well that ends well.”
Photo caption: Southold/Greenport’s Grace Syron tries to split Center Moriches’ Anna Ricci, left, and Sarah Chernis. (Credit: Bob Liepa)