Some are ready to award unbeaten Sayville the county championship before the playoffs even start. Rebecca Raber and her Bayport-Blue Point teammates are not.
“These kids have goals and they set them nice and early in the season,” Bayport-Blue Point coach Ryan Gick said. “Winning a county champions is definitely one we set. We still respect teams we have to play but our goals are very high for the year.”
If there is one team capable of standing between Sayville and a second straight county title, it's likely the Phantoms. Of all the opponents that have fallen to Sayville this season, Bayport played them toughest, losing 1-0 in overtime in the season opener.
“It was a tough game for us to swallow,” Gick said. “But we feel, as I’m sure Sayville does also, that we have improved drastically since that game.”
After Tuesday’s 2-1 win over Shoreham-Wading River (9-3), Bayport improved to 11-2 and will host two-time defending Class B Long Island champion Center Moriches on Wednesday to determine the winner of the League VII title.
Gick says that Bayport has the deepest team he’s ever seen in Bayport and that they have bought into playing a smart game rather than a kick-and-run type. Raber, who was named second-team all-state as a defender last season, leads the team with a career-high 16 goals. She combines with Abby Grappusso in the midfield to form a strong team down the middle.
Nicole Copping, who scored both goals in a key win over Shoreham, has played brilliantly in her freshman season, tallying 10 goals and six assists. She’s been joined on the attack by Kaitlyn Leahy, who has added five goals and three assists. Danielle Heyder has not only anchored the defense but also leads the team in assists with 10. Senior Mariah Valva and sophomore Erica Friel have split every game at keeper and combined for six shutouts.
“This is the best team we’ve had since 2007 when we went to the Long Island Championship,” Gick said. “They have goals and they’ve been chasing them and they’re not going to let people get in the way.”