East Meadow goalkeeper Stephanie Sparkowski says she lives for the save, even after experiencing the joy of getting goals and assists in her team’s soccer games.
“For me, more fun would be making the nice diving save because that’s my position and that’s what I’m supposed to do,” Sparkowski said. “So I always enjoy making a nice save.”
Coach Adam Hananel calls upon the sophomore on many of the Jets’ free kick opportunities. And in their Sept. 28 game against North Shore, she drilled a free kick from just shy of midfield into the upper corner of the net to break a tie in East Meadow’s 2-1 victory after picking up an assist off a punt. She also had a goal and an assist — and a shutout — 10 days earlier in a 6-0 victory over Syosset.
“Going into the season, I wasn’t really expecting to score any goals but then at the Syosset game when I got the assist, I was like ‘Well maybe I can actually score,’ Sparkowski said. “And ever since that game, I’ve been eager to take free kicks to see if I can get any other good opportunities to shoot.”
But Sparkowski’s true passion remains in net, her varsity position since eighth grade, she said.
Sparkowski, who said she has verbally committed to the University of Michigan, was invited to the U.S. U-14 National team camp in Carson, California, in 2016 and was on the U-16 National team roster this summer.
“That’s really surreal because I remember watching a youth national team play and I was like ‘Wow, that’s cool,’ but I never pictured myself being in their spot,” Sparkowski said. “And then the next year, I was there doing the same exact thing.”
Sparkowski has led East Meadow to a 6-1-2 record, including 3-0-2 in Nassau AA-I, the top conference in ability-based alignments, this season. Her presence not only in net, but the ability to perform on kicks has been crucial for the Jets this season.
“My goals throughout the season is just to make as many saves and shutouts as possible because my team is doing so well in front of me,” Sparkowski said. “I just want to play as well as they are.
“If shooting the ball or getting a nice service in is part of my job, then I’m glad to do it.”