A lack of experience may be exactly what has played into the favor of the Babylon girls soccer team.
With the lone senior starter as goalkeeper Emma Ward, when the rest of the team takes the field in playoff and high-intensity games, the Babylon players aren’t scared of the moment.
“Sometimes they are almost too young to realize how much pressure they are under,” coach Frank Mancuso said. “The kids that were here last year set the tone early saying no lead is safe, can't start celebrating when there’s 10 minutes left, and for the rest of the girls, it’s almost like it’s just another game.”
But Saturday evening wasn’t just another game. It was a chance for a title, and the Panthers performed at their best. Top-seeded Babylon defeated No. 2 Mattituck/Southold/Greenport, 4-1, in the Suffolk Class B girls soccer championship at Shoreham-Wading River High School Saturday evening.
Babylon (13-5) advances to play the winner of No. 3 Carle Place/No. 1 Cold Spring Harbor in the Long Island Class B championship/Southeast Regional Final at Berner Middle School in Massapequa Saturday at 1:30 p.m. It’s the Panthers third title in the last four years.
Jayne Stark had a goal and two assists in the win.
“She is probably one of our most consistent players and she’s definitely one of the most composed players we have on the field,” Mancuso said. “Nothing seems to rattle her.”
Babylon scored first when Meghan Flaugher headed in a free kick from Stark from 30 yards out 10 minutes into the game. The Panthers took a 2-0 lead on Stark’s penalty-kick goal five minutes into the second half.
Mattituck/Southold/Greenport (10-6) scored off a scramble in front of the net by Mackenzie Conroy following a free kick to cut Babylon’s lead to 2-1 with two minutes later.
Ashley Bell scored with 25 minutes left in the second half to extend Babylon’s lead to 3-1 and Kristen Szuchy scored the final goal following a cross by Stark.
“Her set pieces are on a dime,” Mancuso said. “She puts them exactly where they need to be any every set piece becomes dangerous because of her.”
And with the win, Babylon is one win away from the chance to return to Cortland to compete for a state championship.
“Some of these girls were ball girls for us last time we went up,” Mancuso said. “So it’s funny how sometimes things come first circle.”