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Girls Soccer Preview: New MSG has talent, depth

With the merger of the Mattituck and Southold/Greenport high school girls soccer programs, head coach Chris Golden realizes he is sitting on a bevy of riches in talent and depth. But he isn’t about to rest or sit on his laurels.

The team, which will be known as MSG — the first initial from each of the three schools, is primed for a successful season.

Last year, Southold/Greenport (14-5) qualified for the state Class C semifinals, its most successful season. Mattituck (13-5) reached the Suffolk County Class B final before losing to eventual state runner-up Babylon in the final.

The goals?

“Stay healthy — last year we had a lot of injuries — and compete in every single match from start to finish,” Golden said. “Obviously, we want to make the playoffs, play for the Suffolk County title. We have the pieces and depth that will allow us to do that.”

Golden liked the options that he will have to start and use off the bench.

“This is something I haven’t had,” he said. “We have numbers. The players are all similar. The determining factor is who’s working hard in practice. Who wants to be out there?”

Senior midfielder-forward Jillian Golden, who led all Long Island girls in goal scoring last season (33 goals, 16 assists), and junior midfielder Claire Gatz (14 goals, 11 assists) give MSG a devastating one-two attacking punch.

“Both of them are extremely talented offensively,” the coach said.

They should have help from senior forward Amber Rochon, who Golden hopes will join the dynamic duo as a scoring threat.

The midfield will be secured by juniors Kaitlin Tobin and Maggie Brewer in the middle and seniors San Dunn and Francesca Vasile-Cozzo on the flanks. Versatile Madison Schmidt and Halle Foster give the team depth.

Not surprisingly, the backline is solid with senior center backs Marie Mullen and Lauren Zuhoski and outside backs Sabrina Basel, Jillian Orr and Caitria Demeroto.

Junior goalkeeper Sarah Santacroce, whose heroics gave Mattituck a big lift in last year’s playoffs, holds the key to a successful season.

“She’s an important piece,” Golden said. “As good as, if not the best, goalkeeper I had in my coaching days. What I am finding out about her is that she’s an intelligent player. She has all the qualities you look for in a keeper.”

MSG, which has no nickname yet, will compete as a Class B team, but will essentially play against Class A teams during the regular season.

“The challenge like anything else is to develop a training mentality,” Golden said. “That really means intensity. If we’re going against an East Islip or a West Babylon or a Rocky Point or Miller Place, we bring that mentality and intensity. Then let the rest of the stuff take care of itself … I think we’ll do all right.”

Photo caption: Jillian Golden, a senior midfielder-forward, led all Long Island girls in goal scoring last season with 33. She also had 16 assists. (Credit: Garret Meade)