Since Sabrina Basel wasn’t feeling too well, Mattituck/Southold/Greenport girls soccer coach Chris Golden started the senior defender at outside midfielder. Less than a minute into the match, Basel must have been feeling a whole lot better.
Just moments after the opening kickoff, Basel scored her first goal of the season, kick-starting MSG’s 7-1 throttling of Port Jefferson Thursday at Southold High School.
It was a big day for Basel, being Spirit Day and Senior Day for MSG’s seven seniors from Southold and Greenport.
“It was just like a buildup of a lot of hype, energy and it just felt really good,” said Basel.
Basel delighted the home crowd — and the MSG bench — with her quick strike, assisted by Claire Gatz.
“You couldn’t have scripted it any better,” Golden said. “I was thrilled to death for her.”
It was a sign that it would be MSG’s day.
Basel said her goal came so early in the game that it felt unreal. “It didn’t feel like it actually went in,” she said. “Then I was like, ‘Oh my God, it actually went in the goal.’ Yeah, it was exciting.”
And witnessed by Basel’s parents, Joline and Michael.
The Basels participated in the pregame Senior Day ceremony along with Southold’s Marie Mullen, Rosie Mollica, Caitria Demeroto, Sam Dunne and Krissy Woreysz along with Greenport’s Jillian Golden.
Goal scoring, which had been a problem for MSG (3-6 overall and in Suffolk County Division II), no longer seems to be a worry. MSG had managed only two goals in its first six games (all losses, five by shutout). The team has knocked in 16 goals in its last three games — all wins.
Part of the explanation for that is the schedule, which has become more forgiving after a brutal start in which five of Class B MSG’s first six opponents were Class A teams.
“Scoring was an issue at the beginning of the season, but I think now we finally connected with our chemistry,” Basel said. “Now that we’re playing teams that are more on our level, I think we’re playing smarter and now we realize that we can beat these teams.”
MSG snapped the dreadful losing streak with a 7-0 thumping of Amityville Monday and then pulled out a 2-1 triumph over Southampton Wednesday, with Lauren Zuhoski scoring off a Maggie Bruer corner kick with 51 seconds to go.
Stuff like that is bound to build confidence, which is what Golden said his team needs most.
“It’s tough to start the season 0 and 6,” he said. “Despite everything you do to keep spirits high and keep their confidence up, still at the end of the day we were 0 and 6, and we were kind of beaten up a little bit.”
Notably, MSG has won these three games and scored those 16 goals without the services of senior forward Jillian Golden, who is out indefinitely with a broken right wrist. Golden led Long Island last season with 33 goals in addition to picking up 16 assists.
But scoring wasn’t an issue Thursday. Nikki Searles bagged her first two goals of the season. Kaitlin Tobin, Francesca Vasile-Cozzo, Gatz and Amber Rochon also found the net. Zuhoski had two assists, with assists also coming from Halle Foster, Searles, Madison Schmidt and Dunne.
MSG nearly had more goals, but Zuhoski struck a shot off the crossbar, Rochon sent a close-range attempt off the goalpost and Tobin hit a post herself.
Sarah Santacroce made five saves and was denied a shutout when Hailey Hearney deposited a late penalty kick for Port Jefferson (3-8, 3-7).
“I think … we have a lot of talent, so we have a lot to work with,” Zuhoski said. “We got to know each other better on the field. We just needed the confidence of the first win to get the other wins.”
The top four Class B teams in Division II will make the playoffs, and MSG has done itself a world of good with a 2-1 record against Class B teams (Port Jefferson being one of them). Another Class B team, Hampton Bays, remains on the schedule.
“This really pretty much put us in the B playoffs,” Chris Golden said. “It’s great to see the kids smiling and the kids feeling good about themselves.”
One of those smiles was on Basel’s face.
“It did feel like a special day for me just because it was Spirit Day at school and it was Senior Game and homecoming on the turf, so it was just like there’s so many things that made it special. Definitely one to remember.”
And to feel good about.
Photo caption: Mattituck/Southold/Greenport senior midfielder Rosie Mollica attempts a shot during her team’s 7-1 defeat of Port Jefferson (Credit: Bob Liepa)