CORTLAND, N.Y. — A team starting six freshmen is not supposed to make a state semifinal. To call it rare would be an understatement, especially for a team leaving Long Island.
The Seaford girls soccer team had regular-season and playoff victories over the typical teams that have represented Long Island from Class B throughout recent history.
They won their first county title in program history this year and first Long Island title. But their first state championship opportunity will need to wait following a 5-1 loss to Irvington in the girls soccer state Class B semifinals at Cortland High School Saturday afternoon.
“I’m super proud of these girls,” coach Ken Botti said. “It was a great journey. We took a conference, county, LIC championship. It was more than we expected but I’m real proud of them.”
Irvington (19-4-1) scored three goals in the first half. Ally Cullingford scored in the second half for Seaford (14-2-1).
Seaford started six freshmen, two sophomores, two juniors and one senior throughout its playoff run. The Vikings graduate Amanda Ettinger, a tough defender, but should return the rest of its young, talented team that now has some playoff experience.
“We came across a very seasoned and experienced team,” Botti said. “They were a bunch of seniors and juniors. We knew it was going to be a challenge. We knew there’s talent here but it’s hard to go up against very mature, seasoned teams.”
Four of Seaford’s top five scorers this season were freshmen in Cullingford, Kaylie Conklin, Ryleigh Nocera and Meghan Stovall along with sophomore Sophia Santella. Joanna Bello had a strong season in goal as a sophomore.
Amanda Williamson and Arianna Garcia were two starting junior defenders this season, along with freshman Mia Leggio and freshman midfielder Kayla Hoehn.
“I think everything they experienced this year is only going to help them in the future,” Botti said. “I think they grew up a lot as kids and soccer players over this past month. I think this year is going to serve them very well and I think we are going to be just as good, if not better next year.”
Botti admitted that because of dropping down from Class A to Class B due to enrollment and with the unknowns of class realignment next season, this was going to be a chance for the team to make history. Which it did in winning its first county and Long Island title in program history.
“Moving on whether we are a Class B or an A group, this is going to be a force to be reckoned with,” Botti said. “I see nothing but progress and process moving forward.”