Mattituck/Southold/Greenport is back.
The girls soccer team formed to represent the three North Fork high schools had great success last year, rebounding dramatically from an 0-6 start to bag what had initially seemed an unlikely Suffolk County Class B championship in its inaugural season. Although 11 seniors from that team have moved on, MSG still has a bunch of returning veterans it can count on.
There is one glaring hole, though. Who will play goalkeeper?
The graduated Krissy Woreysz shared the goalkeeping with Sarah Santacroce in 2018. Santacroce is a remarkably versatile player who was also used on defense and in midfield. The plan this year, however, is to play Santacroce, an All-County senior and the team’s most experienced goalie, in the field.
“It’s tough because we need her in all three” positions, senior midfielder Claire Gatz chuckled after the team’s first practice Monday morning at Mattituck High School.
Coach Chris Golden said Santacroce is “real valuable on the field and in the goal, except, you know what, I can’t cut her in half and there’s not two of her, so it has to be one place or the other.”
Among the 40-something other players in training camp, there isn’t a genuine goalie among them. So, for now at least, the goalkeeping job is up for grabs. “We’re open for an audition,” said Golden.
Not that coach or players sounded overly concerned.
“I think we’ll be OK,” senior midfielder Kaitlin Tobin said. “We have a lot of girls that are lining up for the position, so hopefully one is going to step up.”
Adrine Demirciyan, a sophomore, is one possibility. “She’s willing, so we’ll certainly give her a good look, and who knows?” Golden said. “You know what? You never know. It could be the best thing that’s happened in a long time.”
MSG is coming off something of a crazy season that began with six losses (five by shutout) — all to Class A teams — as the offense struggled.
Then came an astounding transformation. MSG pumped in 16 goals in its next three games and was on its way to prevailing in the county final in a 5-4 penalty-kick thriller (two penalties were saved by Santacroce) against Babylon. MSG’s season’s finally came to an end with a 2-0 loss to a strong Wheatley side in the Long Island final.
MSG had experienced a wild swing of lows and highs. “We were like a Cinderella team,” said Gatz, an All-County player. “It was amazing.”
Golden said MSG’s turnaround was “a credit, really, to the girls — some of whom graduated and some who are still here — that they continued to work and they continue to really believe in what we’re trying to do.”
That remarkable ride has to have a positive carryover affect this year. At least Tobin thinks so.
“Ultimately, we all pulled it together halfway through,” she said. “I think it motivated us returning players and it inspired a lot of new players.”
Among the returning veterans are Saira Bachez, Maggie Bruer, Nikki Searles, Halle Foster, Jillian Orr and Kaitlin Tobin. Grace Broderick is expected to be placed into a starting role.
Where exactly will Santacroce play?
“I’m going to leave it up to her,” Golden said. “She wants to get on the field and she wants to do that, fine. If she wants to be in the goal against a team, fine. Sarah has been around the game long enough to make those decisions and I’m good with that.”
So, Sarah, what sayeth you?
“I’m kind of willing to play anywhere because I have fun wherever I am,” she said. “When I’m on the field I think I have more fun. I think when I’m in the goal it’s more like my passion, but I think it’s also really fun and a good learning experience for me to help the other girls mold into the goalkeeping position because I also like to train them and coach them and give them my experience and my past experiences in helping them.”
Photo caption: The versatile Sarah Santacroce is expected to play in the field this season, leaving Mattituck/Southold/Greenport in search of a goalkeeper. (Bob Liepa)