The Baldwin girls soccer team wins games its own way.
With a team filled with multi-sport athletes -- many of them admittedly not “soccer-first” players -- the Bruins rely on speed, aggressiveness and athleticism on the soccer field and, so far this season, it's worked to their advantage. The Bruins have a 6-2 record, including 5-2 in Nassau AA-I, with a 2-0 victory over county runner-up East Meadow Sept. 21.
“Our team is really built off of athletes, so we trust one another,” said goalkeeper Megan Doyle, who also plays lacrosse. “We try to use each other’s strengths as much as possible.”
Those strengths largely revolve around a defense playing a physical style, featuring a backline of A’mya Joseph, Nicolette Manzella, Elena Randolph and Kaia Harrison with Doyle in net.
“We just try to use our athleticism to beat teams,” Harrison said. “And just work hard every second we're out there.”
Harrison, a standout basketball player committed to Wake Forest, is a three-year varsity soccer player, but didn’t play as a junior to for fear of injury before the winter. But after a state championship basketball season and securing her commitment, she’s excited to return to the soccer field for her senior year.
“It looks like she hasn’t missed a beat,” coach Darius Burton said. “Her willingness, her competitiveness, I basically put her on their best player and she basically shuts them down.”
And Harrison feels up for the challenge of trying to contain often future Division-I soccer players.
“I’m not the most talented player on the field because I’m not a soccer player [first],” Harrison said. “I try to use my quickness and the other things besides my skill for soccer to outplay people and also the other defenders help me out so much.”
Offensively, Alyssa Hillian leads the charge with eight goals, including a goal in the victory over East Meadow, with Barton saying, “Her speed and her ability to take defenders on 1-on-1 is uncanny.”
She also scored two goals in Baldwin's 3-0 victory over Hicksville Tuesday, which was the team's fourth shutout victory of the season.
The team credits much of its success to a saying its taken to heart -- “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard.”
“Even if teams seemed to be more talented and more skilled than us,” Burton said, “we can’t lose if they don’t score on us.”
And the Bruins haven’t been intimidated making the jump to the top conference in Nassau’s power-ranked system. Already with three victories over teams that played in Nassau AA-I last season, the players look to continue to surprise the rest of the county.
“We were nervous at first,” Doyle admitted. “But we knew that in order to get there, obviously we were doing something correctly.”
With a defense filled with athletes and the offensive providing timely goals, Baldwin continues to play by its own style.
“We know we’re not the most talented team, “ Harrison said, “but we work hard on the field.”