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10 things to watch for in the Nassau and CHSAA girls soccer playoffs

Emma Terino of East Meadow heads the ball

Emma Terino of East Meadow heads the ball during the Nassau Conference AA1 game against Syosset in East Meadow on Sept. 13, 2018. Photo Credit: Peter Frutkoff

1. Massapequa looks to continue its dominance

Winners of the last six Nassau AA county championships and 14 of the last 15 titles, the Chiefs are rolling into the postseason playing some of their best soccer of the season. Led by a strong backline featuring Kirstyn Kilmeade, Elisabeth Hingher, Julia Iannarelli and Brenna Brown, Massapequa has allowed one goal in the past 10 games. With Grace Bernardi, committed to St. John’s, at midfield and Kayla Mushorn (nine goals, five assists), Emma Cooney (seven goals, four assists) and Kate Fiola leading the attack, Massapequa hopes to return to the its sixth straight state championship game. The Chiefs enter the playoffs as the No. 1 seed after a 9-1-2 Nassau AA-I record.

2. East Meadow looking to play spoiler

With one of Long Island’s top goalkeepers in Stephanie Sparkowski (Michigan), and a backline allowing six goals all season, East Meadow enters the playoffs as the No. 2 seed after an 8-1-3 Nassau AA-I record. The Jets lost in last season’s semifinals, but with another year of experience for a young offensive attack, led by seven goals from Myla McLeod, and the experience of Kayla Leary on the defensive side, watch out for East Meadow in the Nassau AA playoffs. East Meadow and Massapequa played to scoreless ties in each of their regular-season matchups.  

3. Teams making the jump

Last season, Farmingdale and Baldwin dominated their competition in Nassau AA-II, leading to a promotion to the top conference this season. Farmingdale, which won nine conference games last season, enters the playoffs as the No. 4 seed after a 6-5-1 record, led by explosive midfielder Sydney Moore (Boston College). The four-year varsity player has tremendous field vision and totaled seven goals and six assists in the regular season. Farmingdale also beat Massapequa, 2-0, in its first game of the season.

No. 3 Baldwin (6-4-2) relies on a strong defensive presence. With Kaia Harrison, also one of the best basketball players on Long Island, often matched up against the opponent's top player, Baldwin tied and defeated East Meadow in its two-regular season matchups. With a backline featuring Harrison, A’mya Joseph, Nicolette Manzella, Elena Randolph with Megan Doyle, and Alyssa Hillian with 11 goals and two assists, the Bruins won’t be intimidated in the playoffs.

4. But don’t count out…

No. 5 Syosset (5-5-2), No. 6 Port Washington (2-9-1) and No. 7 Hicksville (0-11-1) have the familiarity factor playing in Nassau AA-I all season.

Wrapping up the Nassau AA bracket is No. 8 Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK, which won Nassau AA-II by defeating Oceanside (9-1-2) on the final game of the season to clinch the league title and final playoff spot. Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK (11-0-1), led by Lexi Vegoda's Nassau-leading 42 points on 27 goals and 15 assists, has an opening matchup against powerhouse Massapequa.

5. Calhoun moves down but picks up where it left off

After losing in the Nassau AA final last season, Calhoun moved to Nassau A due to enrollment numbers. But the adjustment didn’t prove too difficult for the Colts, which enter the playoffs as the top seed with a 6-1-2 Nassau A-I record. Calhoun opened its season strong, winning its first six conference games before stumbling down the stretch with a 0-1-2 record.

6. South Side looking to return to form

After a rare year of not reaching the Nassau A final last season, the Cyclones have put together a strong season, entering the playoffs as the No. 2 seed after a 4-1-4 season in a wide-open Nassau A bracket. With Julia Cavanagh in net, Alex Chruma at midfield and a balanced offensive attack, South Side, winners of 14 county titles since 2000, could be back on top of Nassau A.

7. A very competitive Nassau A-I will lead to an exciting postseason

Although Calhoun and South Side are considered the favorites, it won’t be a surprise to see any Nassau A-I team making a deep postseason run. Here’s the case for the rest of the conference:

No. 3 Wantagh handed Calhoun its lone loss of the season, with a 2-0 win on Oct. 9. With an experienced, athletic team, led by Erin Murphy in net and Caitlin Albanese and Ashley Gendels up top, Wantagh won’t be an easy matchup.

No. 4 Manhasset: After reaching the Nassau A final last season, the Indians lost some of its defensive leaders, but played both Calhoun and South Side tough this season, with a tie and one-goal loss against each. Led by Erin Trotta in net, Manhasset looks for another opportunity to play for a county title after a 2-4-4 season.

No. 5 Garden City: After winning the Long Island Class A title two years ago, the Trojans turned their slow start this season into a unbeaten stretch over the final five games, going 2-0-3 over that span.

No. 6 North Shore: The defending Long Island Class A champions lost a lot of talent and experience from last season but look to make a deep postseason run around the playmaking ability of Cailey Welch (eight goals, two assists), after a 1-5-4 season.

No. 7 Mepham (8-0-2) and No. 8 MacArthur (6-3-1) are two Nassau A-II teams that could make noise in the playoffs, with Mepham adding non-league victories over Wantagh and Kellenberg. Luciana Setteducate has eight goals and five assists for the Pirates. MacArthur also possesses one of Nassau’s top goal scorers in Kara DeBlasio (17 goals, two assists).

8. Valley Stream South looking to prove its case

The Falcons are not your typical No. 18 seed.

With a roster filled with Division I talent, Valley Stream South beat up on teams in Nassau AB-V, finishing with a 13-0 record in the regular season, allowing only one goal. The Falcons defeated No. 15 Island Trees, 3-1, in the Nassau A outbracket game behind three goals from Bryana Pizarro. Pizarro, committed to Mississippi State, is third in Nassau in points (27 goals, 11 assists) with her teammate, Mia Asenjo, one spot behind her with 15 goals and 15 assists. Valley Steam South faces No. 2 South Side on Monday.

9. A look at the Nassau B playoffs

No. 1 Cold Spring Harbor, led by Claire Futter in net,  finished 4-2-4 in Nassau AB-II. With a victory over Manhasset and two ties against Mepham, the Seahawks have played their best against the toughest competition, in pursuit of their first Nassau B title since 2012.

No. 2 Wheatley had been the class of Nassau B as of late, winning at least a share of the last five county titles.  The Wildcats finished 3-4-1 in Nassau AB-III, with Cecilia Jozef in net.

10. Sacred Heart, St. Anthony’s likely to battle it out one more time

Coming off one of the best games on Long Island this season, St. Anthony’s remained undefeated after a 3-2 victory over Sacred Heart on Oct. 19. Brianna Jablonowski scored the winning goal off an assist from Lauren Haggerty with 35 seconds left. Brianna Passaro (13 goals, nine assists) added two goals in the win and Jablonowski improved her point total to 19 (15 goals, four assists). The defending CHSAA state champions will be the top seed in the playoffs, with a 9-0 CHSAA record entering Monday’s matchup with St. John the Baptist.

But Sacred Heart is not to be overlooked. After giving St. Anthony’s its toughest test of the season, the Spartans look to win their second league and state CHSAA title in three seasons. Led by Caitlin Kennedy, who has 15 goals and four assists on the season, along with an established and experienced senior class, including Tori Minda, Caroline McDermott, Sara Micheli, and twin sisters Cubby and Missy Biscardi, Sacred Heart is 6-2 in CHSAA entering a matchup with Kellenberg on Monday.

THE SCHEDULE

Class AA first-round matchups Oct. 24

No. 8 Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK vs. No. 1 Massapequa

No. 7 Hicksville at No. 2 East Meadow

No. 6 Port Washington at No. 3 Baldwin

No. 5 Syosset at No. 4 Farmingdale

Class A first-round matchups Oct. 22

Winner of No. 17 Friends Academy/No. 16 Jericho at No. 1 Calhoun

No. 18 Valley Stream South at No. 2 South Side

No. 14 Locust Valley at No. 3 Wantagh

Winner of No. 20 Herricks/No. 13 New Hyde Park at No. 4 Manhasset

No. 12 Bethpage at No. 5 Garden City

No. 11 Lynbrook at No. 6 North Shore

No. 10 Bellmore JFK at No. 7 Mepham

No. 9 Plainedge at No. 8 MacArthur

Class B semifinals Oct. 26 at Bethpage High School

No. 4 Oyster Bay vs. No. 1 Cold Spring Harbor

No. 3 Carle Place vs. No. 2 Wheatley

Championship Games

Nassau B: Monday October 29, at Bethpage High School, 7 p.m.

Nassau A: Wednesday October 31, at Cold Spring Harbor High School, 7 p.m.

Nassau AA: Tuesday October 30, at Cold Spring Harbor High School, 7 p.m.

CHSAA: Friday November 2, at Skelos Park in Rockville Centre, 5 p.m.

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