The girls soccer season is young and already Manhasset has to be considered a contender for the Nassau Class A title.
It had already sent a shiver through the county with an impressive takedown of Garden City last week and now it has added a hard-fought road victory against tough and physical Mepham. Rena Kalargiros had a free kick from 40 yards out on the left side of the field and bent it into the top righthand corner of the Pirates net with 23:40 left to play to snap a tie score and send Manhasset to the 2-1 Nassau A-1 win.
Just before the kick, Kalargiros and coach Chris Keen exchanged an informative glance with the unspoken message he described as "hit it" and all the Manhasset players cleared out to the far side of the field.
"It's hard to get accuracy on every single one, but I do aim to either go top right or left mostly," Kalargiros said. "I put this one right where I wanted."
One big reason that speedy and athletic Manhasset looks so strong was Mia Kraft’s offer to move from forward to defense for this season. The senior was one of Manhasset’s top goal scorers last season but decided to add her experience to a young back line for this campaign.
"Defense feels like the more natural position for me and it was what we needed this year," Kraft said. "People see playing up front as the glory positions and scoring goals is a lot of fun. But we needed people who wouldn’t be afraid of the ball and I think it’s paying off."
Kraft made a bunch of big defensive plays to snuff Pirate sorties including one with about 10 minutes left where she threw her body in front of a kicked ball in close.
"She showed a lot of leadership when she told me ‘if you need me in the back, I'm willing to go [because] I think I can help the team more as a defender,’ " Keen said. "It takes a lot of class to take the unglorified position of defense."
Manhasset (3-0-0, 2-0-0) grabbed the lead when Kayla Fox perfectly led Elizabeth Modano with a pass across the field for a goal. Mepham (0-2-1, 0-2-1) knotted it up when Ashley Felsberg made a deflection to Alyssa Schimmenti and she found Giovanna Barrett for the score.
The Pirates struggled in the final five minutes to even mount an attack and acting coach Keri Wisey said "we looked tired in the late going."
Nassau A-1 is loaded with top programs, but Manhasset has sent an early message.
"I think we’re contenders," Kraft said. "I see us as a super strong team this season and I’m excited to see how far we go."