11/05/13 8:32pm
11/05/2013 8:32 PM
ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO | Southold's Will Richter goes airborne in an attempt to win possession of the ball.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Southold’s Will Richter goes airborne in an attempt to win possession of the ball during Tuesday’s regional semifinal against Friends Academy.


Not many high school boys soccer teams do what Friends Academy did to Southold on Tuesday. In fact, no other team has been able to do that to the First Settlers this season.

In a testament to just how good a team Friends is, the Nassau County champion blasted Suffolk County champion Southold, 5-1, in a Southeast Region Class C semifinal at Diamond in the Pines in Coram. All of the Quakers’ goals came in the first half for a 5-0 lead as they romped to their fourth Long Island championship.

Jon Nierenberg, a senior midfielder, was involved in the first three goals, scoring two of them, all within the opening 19 minutes 27 seconds.

The first goal, on Friends’ first foray in Southold’s penalty area just 1:50 into the match, had a flukey nature to it. Liam Bardong laid a ball down the left wing for Andrew Stingi, who directed it toward the goalmouth. Goalkeeper John Charles Funke collided with one of his defenders as they both pursued the ball, which conveniently ended up in Nierenberg’s path to put into an unguarded net.

Nierenberg initiated the sequence that led to the second score, delivering a centering pass that was knocked out toward the top of the penalty area. Oliver Muran was in the right spot at the right time and hammered a shot between Funke’s legs.

Nierenberg then made it 3-0. Funke got a fist on a long throw-in by Patrick Moodhe. A scramble ensued. The ball found its way to Nierenberg’s foot and then the Southold goal.

The goals kept coming for Friends (12-1-1), the only Class C team in Nassau.

Perhaps the nicest one of them all was Harrison Seideman’s thunderous first-timer from a corner kick by Kevin Isernio.

Bardong made it five goals for Friends, the most Southold has allowed in a game this season.

Seconds later, Southold’s Drew Sacher sent a shot off the inside of the left goal post. It was close, but no goal.

Sacher picked up his 13th goal of the season, however, with 5:01 left in the game, spoiling Brandon Rosenbaum’s shutout bid.

Earlier in the second half, Jack Dunne nearly scored for Southold (12-5-1), only to see Nierenberg clear the ball off the goal line.

Friends outshot Southold, 21-8, and was especially accurate in the first half, putting 9 of 11 shots on goal.

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03/07/12 11:27pm
03/07/2012 11:27 PM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Carley Staples (15) and Nicole Busso rejoiced after Southold defeated Friends Academy, winning the Long Island Class C championship.


It wasn’t exactly a work of art, but to the Southold girls basketball team, it must have seemed like a masterpiece.

Not many points would have been awarded for artistry in the Southeast Region Class C semifinal. Then again, not many actual points were scored, either.

But what mattered most to Southold was that, through 32 minutes of regulation time and then an additional four minutes of overtime, it finished with more points than Friends Academy. When the final buzzer sounded, ending Southold’s 32-26 victory at Farmingdale State College on Wednesday, the First Settlers’ reserve players rushed onto the middle of the court, piling onto their teammates and screaming.

“I think we’re just overwhelmed with joy,” said Southold guard Sydney Campbell, who was tackled and wound up at the bottom of the jubilant pile.

“That was probably the most intense game we played all year,” Southold guard Lauren Ficurilli said. “It was the most indescribable, unbelievable feeling. Just the fact that we won, it says something, and it’s something to be proud of.”

The triumph brought Southold (16-6) its first Long Island championship since the 1990s, said Hennes. “It’s been a while,” she said. It also moved the First Settlers to within one win of advancing to the New York State final four in Troy. They could do that Saturday when they will play a team from Section I or Section IX in the regional final on the same court in Farmingdale.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Lauren Ficurilli, shooting over Jalisa Clark of Friends Academy, led Southold with 10 points.

Southold first had to get past the Nassau County champion, Friends Academy (6-13). It was a plodding affair for a good deal of the way. The teams proved a good match for each other. They both suffered from the same problems: many of their shots weren’t falling and turnovers were frequent.

But Southold can be credited for grinding out the win. The First Settlers opened overtime with baskets by Ficurilli and Campbell, who hit the game’s only 3-point shot. Then two free throws by Campbell and another foul shot by Justina Babcock extended a 10-0 run, giving Southold a 32-24 lead that must have seemed like a mountain for Friends Academy to climb with only 20.7 seconds remaining.

Hennes said she told her players before overtime started, “You have four minutes to walk away here and feel the best feeling you could feel in your entire life.”

Southold never led until a Ficurilli basket early in the fourth quarter made it 21-19.

Campbell sank a pressure-packed free throw, the front end of a one and one with 5.7 seconds to go in the fourth quarter, to tie the score at 24-24. After a timeout, Friends Academy lost the ball when an inbounds pass by Jalisa Clark bounced off Kristina Kim’s leg with 3.2 seconds left.

That gave Southold a chance to win it in regulation time. Ficurilli passed to Melissa Rogers, who tossed up an air ball that Kim caught as the fourth quarter ended.

At times the game was downright ugly. Perhaps it was a case of big-game jitters.

“Wins aren’t pretty all the time,” said Hennes.

Neither side was really able to capitalize on the other team’s miscues. The turnovers basically evened out, with 25 by Friends Academy and 26 by Southold. The Quakers shot a woeful 21.9 percent from the floor; Southold wasn’t much better at 29.7 percent.

The Quakers couldn’t have felt good about their 8-of-23 shooting from the free-throw line, either.

Points were hard to come by. By the time Southold committed its 11th turnover, Friends Academy held an 11-4 lead.

But Southold snapped out of its early malaise, using a 7-0 run to draw even at 11-11 with 2:26 left in the first half.

The scoreboard told the story at halftime: 13-11 in Friends Academy’s favor.

“In a game like this, every shot counts,” said Southold forward Nicole Busso.

Lindsay O’Sullivan, an eighth-grader, scored 5 points during an 8-0 Friends Academy run that made it 19-11 late in the third quarter.

But then Southold concluded the third quarter on an 8-0 spurt of its own, tying it at 19-19. It was a new game.

“We never lost faith,” Busso said. Busso said Hennes, in a pregame speech, “really proved to us why we had to win this game, and that was for ourselves, to prove to Southold who we are.”

The offensive statistics were modest. Ficurilli led all scorers with 10 points and Campbell netted all 9 of her points after halftime. Busso had a tremendous game under the boards with 14 rebounds.

Rogers, playing with her ailing left wrist bandaged, was clearly not her usual self, with only 1 point. She did, however, grab 8 rebounds, make 3 steals and block 2 shots.

For Friends Academy, O’Sullivan had 9 points, Kim 8, and Rose Mangiorotti collected 14 rebounds.

After the game, the First Settlers were a happy group. At one point, just about all of the players had their cell phones out, undoubtedly texting friends and family members, relaying the news that their season had been extended.

“I don’t think any of us anticipated a foul shot in the last five seconds, going into overtime, and then pulling it out in overtime,” Campbell said. “This is like all we dreamed of — and more.”

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03/07/12 7:00am

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Southold point guard Sydney Campbell, in action against Southampton in the Suffolk County Class B-C-D final, plays a position that suits her personality.

Fortunately for the Southold High School girls basketball team, Sydney Campbell plays a position that suits her personality. “I’m like a control freak,” she said.

Campbell also has an unselfish mentality and doesn’t define her play by points alone. She can take joy in an assist as much as in hitting a 3-point shot.

Sounds like a true point guard.

“They’re never really the ones getting the credit for the points, and they shouldn’t be, but they are the ones that need to help the other people get the points,” Campbell said. “It feels really nice when people compliment you for being the point guard or for being the one that gives [the ball to others]. So, I mean, it doesn’t go unnoticed, necessarily, but it’s not the star role, which is fine.”

Campbell plays a critical supporting role, though, at point guard. With the 5-foot-6 junior running the offense, the First Settlers can rest assured that the ball is in safe hands. The position, she said, requires “a lot of awareness and a lot of unselfish thinking and team thinking.”

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Melissa Rogers, who hurt her wrist in Southold's previous game, was pronounced fit to play in Wednesday's regional semifinal by coach Katie Hennes.

Campbell’s introduction to organized basketball, as a third-grader playing for a coed Catholic Youth Organization team, left a positive impression on her. She enjoyed the thrill of playing against boys whose speed and aggressiveness she admired.

That set the course for a basketball life that has Campbell riding high along with her teammates. Suffolk County Class C champion Southold (15-6) will play Nassau County champion Friends Academy (6-12) on Wednesday in a Southeast Region semifinal at Farmingdale State College [Follow along for live coverage at suffolktimes.com]. A positive result in that game would advance Southold to a regional final on Saturday in Farmingdale, and leave the First Settlers one win away from a place in the New York State final four in Troy.

“It’s been the opportunity of a lifetime,” said Justina Babcock, the team’s backup point guard.

The First Settlers have become the talk of the town, no small thanks to Campbell, who has played her role well.

“She’s a great player,” Babcock said. “She has aggressiveness. She scores points. She has pretty much all the aspects of the game, and when she fouls out, it’s hard to get up to her standards because she’s just that good.”

Campbell can score herself, too. She may be the team’s best pure outside shooter.

“Sydney is probably our most lethal 3-point shooter,” coach Katie Hennes said. “If she’s on, everybody else is on, so they feed off of that.”

A confident player, Campbell is not afraid to take the ball to the basket, either.

Hennes said there may be times during Wednesday’s game when Campbell and Babcock are on the court at the same time, with Campbell playing shooting guard and Babcock at the point.

Babcock, a 5-0 sophomore in her first varsity season, has been a steady backup for Campbell. Southold has a third point guard on the roster, freshman Megan Van Bourgondien.

Campbell has been averaging about 5 points and 5 assists per game. Her point production in the playoffs has been down, but as she well knows, points alone do not tell the whole story.

“I try to define myself overall how I played because even if I’m doing really bad on offense, I could have a great defense,” she said. “If we’re winning and my shots aren’t going in, yeah, it’s tough individually, but I have to take a step back and look at the team as a whole.”

Melissa Rogers, who hurt her left wrist in Southold’s previous game, the Suffolk Class B-C-D final against Southampton on Feb. 25, wasn’t wearing a splint around the wrist during Monday’s practice as she had last week. Rogers, wearing street clothes, shot baskets by herself off to the side while the rest of the team practiced.

Although Hennes said she was feeling a bit under the weather herself, she proclaimed the rest of the team, including Rogers, fit to play. She said, “We should be ready to go.”

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