Featured Story

Girls Soccer: Another bonding experience for MSG

Before scoring the game-winning goal in Mattituck/Southold/Greenport’s 2-0 girls soccer win over Westhampton Beach on Saturday morning, Halle Foster already had invited her team to her house to make posters for a Sunday car wash and for some more team bonding.

As if MSG really needs the latter.

“We are really close this year, so we like to get together a lot,” Foster said. “We’re having a sleepover, so we’re just going to hang out, go in my pool and make signs.”

And perhaps celebrate a solid win over a Class A school, just a bit as MSG won for the second time in three days in a Suffolk County Division II game at Southold High School’s homecoming.

“No rain today, no torrential rain,” coach Chris Golden said, referring to Thursday’s monsoon conditions during MSG’s 2-0 victory over Southampton. “Beautiful day, great for the seniors to be recognized.”

Foster, a senior midfielder, was given recognition along with seven seniors in pregame ceremonies before becoming the center of attention by scoring at 26 minutes and 55 seconds. Senior Maggie Bruer fed Foster on the left side of the area as she one-touched the ball from a difficult angle past goalkeeper Jade Merrell.

“Honestly, I wasn’t sure it wasn’t going to go in or not,” Foster said. “It was a really good feeling to have the first goal of the game and have your team celebrate with you after it.”

Senior Sarah Santacroce, who shared the shutout with Aliyah Shorter, was just happy the ball went in. She has been friends with Foster since they were 8 years old on a travel team. “I played with Halle forever,” she said. “The way she has grown, this is definitely her best year ever. Her kicks are amazing. She can [score] at really impossible angles.”

Foster already had written her name into MSG history by converting the winning penalty kick in a shootout in the 2017 Suffolk Class B semifinal. As a sophomore that day, she was a bundle of nerves. Today, she is a bundle of energy.

“She really has matured in understanding what her role is, on the team and on the field,” Golden said. “It’s not the quantity of minutes, it’s really the quality. So, if she is out there and going to log 60 minutes, then we need that quality. She’s very understanding of that. Also, in terms of [her] role as a midfielder, [it] is to stay wide and look for that ball and opportunity where she could sneak in, first touch, go on goal and finish. That’s something that she seems to do very well.”

Junior midfielder Nikki Searles gave MSG (6-3, 5-3) something more to celebrate at 57:56, converting a ball from the middle of the box off a right-wing feed by senior Claire Gatz. It was Searles’ team-high seventh goal after tallying twice against Southampton.

“What you’re seeing out of Nikki and what I really like in terms of composure around the frame, where she can collect that ball and she can finish,” Golden said. “A lot of her goals are what I consider to be professional goals. They either come when she’s got a defender on her hip, and she’s got to finish, or she recognizes that the ball is out wide, it’s going to be served, she’s out of midfield and gets herself into great positions to put the ball into the net.”

Searles was more concerned about the team than herself.

“We have improved a lot since the beginning of the season,” she said. “Today’s game was a good reflection on that.”

The Hurricanes (4-6, 4-5) then pushed up and kept MSG on its heels, trying to make a game of it. Either Shorter (two saves) blocked any attempts or Santacroce (two saves in the first half) kept the ball out of harm’s way.

Santacroce started in the net because Shorter had another commitment at kickoff. She moved to sweeper at the start of the second half.

“She is processing information at an unbelievable rate and all the stimuli to make really good decisions,” Golden said. “It looks like she’s all over the field. She’s stepping when she needs to step, dropping when she needs to. She’s cutting the ball back to give herself time and space when she has to. That intangible really separates good players from outstanding players.”