Lexie Thompson of MacArthur is pictured on Wednesday, December 14,...

Lexie Thompson of MacArthur is pictured on Wednesday, December 14, 2022 in Levittown. Credit: Dawn McCormick

Newsday Player of the Year: Lexie Thompson, MacArthur, GK, Sr.

In a span of a few seconds, Lexie Thompson showed everything you needed to know about how important she was to the MacArthur girls soccer team this season.

In the Long Island Class A championship/Southeast Regional Final, Thompson, a senior goalkeeper, made a diving save to her left, only to immediately stand up and make a full-extension save at the top of the net to send the ball out of bounds to preserve MacArthur’s 1-0 lead over Shoreham-Wading River.

MacArthur would win the game, 1-0, in large part to Thompson’s 11 saves, many of them displaying her athleticism.

"That 10-second highlight clip kind of told the whole story,” coach Steve Costello said. “There are games where we didn’t give up a shot because we were such a talented team everywhere but knowing that insurance policy is back there takes the pressure off everybody.”

Thompson, who is committed to play at Buffalo, was the key piece to MacArthur’s season that included 17 shutouts, including seven 1-0 victories, en route to the state Class A semifinals. Her performance all season earned her Newsday’s Player of the Year.

“She’s just a complete package in every single way,” Costello said. “There’s nothing she didn’t do well. Punt, goal kicks, saves, foot skills, there’s nothing she can’t do.”

MacArthur went 14-1-2 on the season and only allowed three goals. Thompson had 34 shutouts in three varsity seasons.

“A 1-0 lead for us was almost insurmountable,” Costello said. “Everything started with her. We decided to be a defensive-oriented team … we basically built a team on trying to win 1-0 and you don’t do that if you don’t have Lexie Thompson.”

Suffolk Player of the Year: GraceAnn Leonard, Shoreham-Wading River, F, Sr.

Shoreham-Wading River's Graceann Leonard prevents the pass from going out of...

Shoreham-Wading River's Graceann Leonard prevents the pass from going out of bounds during the second half of the game on Sept. 7, 2019. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

GraceAnn Leonard was everywhere on the field and everything to the Wildcats.

The five-year varsity starter led Long Island in points (37) with 19 goals and 18 assists for the Suffolk Class A champions en route to earning Newsday’s Suffolk Player of the Year.

Leonard is one of the top three-sport athletes on Long Island and committed to play lacrosse at North Carolina. She used her athleticism and toughness to her advantage all fall. She recorded at least one point in 13 of 19 games, including three goals and an assist in a 6-0 victory over Eastport-South Manor in the Suffolk Class A semifinals.

Carolina Benitez, Kellenberg, D, Sr.

The tough defensive presence also can contribute on offense, posting three goals and six assists in a 14-2-3 season in which the Firebirds allowed just nine goals. She is committed to play at UMass-Amherst.

Julianna Bivona, Sacred Heart, D, Jr.

The technically strong defender constantly takes on and limits the opposing team’s top-scoring option. She is great at marking scorers and in the air and possesses the ability to play on offense. Bivona contributed on offense as needed, including scoring two goals as Sacred Heart handed St. Anthony’s its first league loss since 2015 this year.

Peyton Costello, Ward Melville, M, Jr.

She had 12 goals and an assist, even while missing five games, for the state Class AA champions in a 17-0-3 season. Costello, a dynamic playmaker in the midfield, had two goals in a 3-1 victory over Massapequa in the Long Island Class AA championship. She’s committed to William & Mary.

Top row, from left: Carolina Benitez of Kellenberg, Julianna Bivona of Sacred Heart,...

Top row, from left: Carolina Benitez of Kellenberg, Julianna Bivona of Sacred Heart, Peyton Costello of Ward Melville. Middle row, from left: Danielle Davis of Friends Academy, Marryn Gruhn of Northport, Ashley Kozlowski of St. Anthony’s. Bottom row, from left: Briana Neary of Massapequa, Savannah Rogers of North Babylon.

Danielle Davis, Friends Academy, M, Sr.

The Clemson commit has one of the most powerful shots on Long Island. She had 16 goals and 10 assists despite facing constant additional defensive attention. One of those 16 goals came from midfield to open up a contest.

Marryn Gruhn, Northport, M, Sr.

The Providence commit controlled the middle of the field for Northport and had four goals and eight assists in a 12-3 season. The four-year starter has the speed and ball control to separate herself from other top players on Long Island.

Samantha Kolb, Long Beach, M, Sr.

She led Long Island with 29 goals and finished second in points with 34. Her playmaking ability allows to create by juking out defenders down the field or finishing by the net. The Providence commit had at least one point in all but one game this season and scored in the first half and in the penalty kick period as No. 14 Long Beach defeated No. 3 South Side in the Nassau Class A playoffs.

Ashley Kozlowski, St. Anthony’s, F, Sr.

The Bucknell commit had all three of St. Anthony’s goals in its 3-2 victory over Xaverian in the state CHSAA Class AA semifinal. She followed that one day later with a goal and an assist in a 6-0 victory over St. Mary’s (Lancaster) in the final. Kozlowski led the CHSAA in goals (18) and points (22) and scored at least one goal in seven of St. Anthony’s final eight games.

Briana Neary, Massapequa, M, Jr.

Neary had 19 goals and nine assists for the Nassau Class AA champions, including the winning goal in a 1-0 victory over Syosset in the county final. The playmaker led Nassau Class AA in both goals and assists.

Savannah Rogers, North Babylon, GK, Sr.

She had a 95% save percentage and only allowed 0.42 goals per game in a 14-3-2 season for North Babylon. The athletic goalkeeper had 15 shutouts to lead North Babylon to its first Suffolk Class AA semifinal since 2010. The four-year starter also contributes on offense and free kicks, scoring the winning goal on a free kick in a 1-0 victory over Bay Shore. Rogers also had two assists on the season.

Nassau Coach of the Year: Ashley Castanio, Long Beach

Castanio guided Long Beach on a magical postseason run, reaching the Nassau Class A semifinals as a No. 14 seed. Long Beach defeated No. 3 South Side, the defending Long Island Class A champions, in penalty kicks before defeating No. 11 North Shore in the quarterfinals in a 14-2 season.

Suffolk Coach of the Year: John Diehl, Ward Melville

He guided Ward Melville to its first state title in program history. The Patriots defeated Clarence, 1-0, in the state Class AA final.

Second Team

Ava Angiuli, MacArthur, D, Sr.

Nora Basile, South Side, M, Jr.

Ashley Bell, Babylon, F, Sr.

Ciara Brown, Half Hollow Hills West, F, Jr.

Mikayla Camp, Syosset, M, Jr.

Kaitlin Conway, Sachem East, M, Jr.

Maya Costa, Garden City, F/M, Sr.

Ariana Diaz, Farmingdale, M, Sr.

Amanda Dolan, St, Anthony’s, D, Sr.

Catherine Hayes, Garden City, M, Sr.

Mikayla Horton, East Islip, M/F, Jr.

Tori Lamendola, Commack, D, Sr.

Maggie Ledwith, Herricks, M, Jr.

Kaylin Mallon, Connetquot, M, Soph.

Anne McGovern, Kings Park, F, Sr.

Lindsay McShea, Kellenberg, D, Sr.

Elyse Munoz, Ward Melville, GK, Sr.

Alexis Re, Riverhead, F, Jr.

Stephanie Schubert, Smithtown West, F, Sr.

Kaitlyn Tung, MacArthur, M, Sr.


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