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Haylee Poltorak has 23 saves, but Massapequa girls fall in state Class AA championship

From left, Massapequa's Julia Ophals, Hope Breslin and

From left, Massapequa's Julia Ophals, Hope Breslin and Hayley Poltorak stand solemnly after being defeated by Arlington, 2-1, at the state Class AA girls soccer championship at SUNY Cortland in Cortland, N.Y., Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016. Credit: Heather Ainsworth

CORTLAND, N.Y. — Although Massapequa girls soccer wasn’t able to capture its fourth straight state championship, it came about as close as possible to accomplishing a feat that no Class AA team ever has.

Section I Arlington (20-3) defeated Massapequa, 2-1, in double overtime in the state Class AA championship Sunday at SUNY Cortland.

“If any school makes it to States four years in a row, you’re obviously doing something right so I think Massapequa definitely has a strong program,” senior defender Cassidy Byrns said. “We have a lot of young girls that step up. Every year we rebuild so it’s an accomplishment to make it back.”

The Chiefs (17-2-2) struck first when Julia Hannon corralled a loose ball played into the box, beat a defender before putting a shot into the lower-left corner of the net with 13:31 remaining in the match to take a 1-0 lead. But Arlington’s Kendall Feighan answered less than three minutes later with the tying goal then her sister Molly Feighan scored the winning goal with 7:18 remaining in the second overtime.

“To go on a 23-game win streak in playoffs like that against quality teams is very impressive,” said coach Bruce Stegner after the Chiefs suffered their first postseason loss since 2011. “They deserve all the accolades they got and they were about [13] minutes away from getting another one. That’s how fine the line is being champion and getting a little bit unlucky or whatever you want to call it.”

Massapequa had strong defensive play all season, starting a back line of Morgan Camarda, Brianna Deluna, Kyleigh Gallagher and Byrns. Combined with Haylee Poltorak’s 24 saves, the Chiefs neutralized Arlington’s attack the majority of the match.

“It’s been absolutely amazing,” Gallagher said. “I got to play with some of the best people I’ve ever played with. Hope Breslin up top, Julia Ophals, Grace Bernardi, Julia Hannon. I got to play with the best people and I think it’s just a great experience to be a part of this team.”

Breslin, the program’s all-time leading scorer with 82 goals, pushed the attack along with Ophals, Hannon and Sierra Brophy. Juliana Diesel, Kate Fiola, Bernardi helped control possession at midfield.

“I’m just really proud of everyone because we all tried to the very end,” said Ophals, a captain. “And even though we didn’t get the result we wanted, we’re still proud of every one.”

While the Chiefs certainly will miss their senior leadership and talent, the trip back to Cortland gave underclassmen more experience taking on pivotal roles in big games.

“It’s awesome to have a sophomore score to potentially win the game,” Byrns said. “But her, Grace, Sierra, Kate, all the young girls, they’re just awesome and they want to work, they want to win.”

And with capturing a fourth straight Long Island championship, 13th county championship in 14 seasons and playing 100 minutes of strong soccer in the state championship, the Chiefs proved again to be one of the top programs in the region.

“Coming back to States is definitely an accomplishment in itself and making it back to the finals is another accomplishment,” Byrns said. “It’s bittersweet.”


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