They say first impressions are everything. But those were made years ago. This was all about making one final impression.
With college coaches in attendance, nearly 60 uncommitted senior girls soccer players preparing for the next chapter of their playing careers gathered Friday night to showcase their talents for the final time.
"It was good to see all the seniors come together for our final game together," MacArthur's Courtney Noakes said. "A game like this is nerve racking but it's a lot of motivation and it boosts up your game level a little."
The last image of Roslyn's Amanda Green playing high school soccer will be of her winning goal. Green trailed East Meadow's Nicolette Wilson, whose shot was tipped away by the keeper before Green followed up the rebound and put it in the back of the net to give Nassau a 2-1 lead with 15:19 remaining in the first game.
"It was a good way to end my high school career," Green said. "It's sad because there are so many memories but there's a lot to look forward to with college and everything. This will be another good memory to have."
Baldwin's Ayana Smith, who showed off her speed and ballhandling skills, opened the scoring with a hooking shot from the edge of the box just 1:46 into the game to put Nassau ahead 1-0. Babylon's Carolanne Murphy sent a beautiful ball over the top of the defense to Northport's Jamie Borden, who eluded a defender and fired a left-footed shot for the tying goal with 12:24 left in the half.
"It felt really good to play again and represent my school," Murphy said. "It made me feel good that I can play with everyone and compete at this high level. It was a confidence booster. It's a great experience."
Sayville's Melanie Drinkwater scored what proved to be the winner in the second game. North Babylon's Alena Gannon carried the ball into the box and left a pass for Drinkwater, who placed the ball over the keeper with 19:55 remaining in the game. Mattituck's Lauren Guja showed off her big foot, firing from 30 yards to give Suffolk a 2-0 lead with 11:47 to go.
Originally, the Exceptional Seniors game was between All-County players from Nassau and Suffolk. But with many of them already committed to a school, the new format affords undecided players the opportunity to get some well-deserved exposure.
"The main objective is to get the student athletes that are uncommitted one last chance to be seen by some of the great colleges in the tri-state area," said Islip coach Mike Reilly, who helped arrange the game and coached a Suffolk team. "There are a lot of diamonds in the rough out there and they go on to bigger and better things."