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Top Sports Stories 2018: New MSG soccer team a success

As with many experiments, this one was born out of necessity.

Two high school girls soccer teams, Mattituck and Southold/Greenport, were looking at low player numbers individually had they gone into the 2018 season alone. And so, Mattituck/Southold/Greenport — or MSG as the team was called in shorthand — was created.

MSG coach Chris Golden said had the programs remained separate, Mattituck probably would have had enough players for a varsity team but no junior varsity team, and Southold/Greenport would have had barely enough to field a varsity team. “For the first time in years, we had a JV and we had kids playing at appropriate levels,” he said. “We have the makings of a good program.”

After a rocky start in which it opened the season with six straight losses, the first-year team did well. MSG claimed its first championship — not without considerable effort. MSG overcame a two-goal deficit, scored an equalizer with 32 seconds left in the second half and battled Babylon for 110 minutes of soccer that ended with the score tied, 3-3, before prevailing in an extended penalty-kick tiebreaker, 5-4, in the Suffolk County Class B final.

“That was a game for the ages there,” Golden said after the contest at Center Moriches High School.

And a career game by his daughter, Jill Golden. Golden struck for a hat trick and made good on her attempt during penalty kicks.

Francesca Vasile-Cozzo ended the drama, sliding in the first penalty kick she had ever taken and sealing MSG’s triumph.

“Did that just happen? It’s kind of surreal when you think about it,” the senior right midfielder said afterward. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing.”

The season ended for MSG (9-9) with a 2-0 loss to Wheatley in the Long Island final at Islip High School. Wheatley’s dogged defense allowed MSG only three shots.

“Even when we lost today, we hold our heads high,” junior midfielder/forward Kaitlin Tobin said. “We were happy with what we got out of this year. We made history as a first-year program. We came out of nowhere, basically. The fact that we were able to compete in a Long Island championship [game], you’re never going to forget about stuff like that.”

Photo caption: The new MSG girls soccer team. (Credit: Garret Meade)