Lydia Kessel has been there before, so she knows what to look for. And what she sees is a big postseason for the Shoreham-Wading River soccer team.
“I saw my friends that played club soccer and when I saw their teams or heard about their teams at club practices, I was like ‘Wait, my team isn’t normal. My team is something special,’ ” said Kessel, a senior with 47 career shutouts and one county championship under her belt.
At 15-0-1, including 12 shutouts, Kessel believes the Wildcats are poised to return to the Suffolk Class A championship game for the first time since her freshman year.
Kessel, committed to play keeper at the University of Vermont, brings confidence out of her teammates with her presence in net, her coach said, and has the results to back that up.
After receiving a scrapbook that coach Adrian Gilmore makes for her seniors every season, Kessel was in awe thinking back to her ninth-grade self.
“It’s just so crazy because that’s all the beginning of the excitement,” Kessel said. “It’s so funny. I had no idea of how much of an impact it would have on me the past four years.”
But it hasn’t been just Kessel for the Wildcats this season, as Nicky Constant leads Suffolk Class A in goals (26) and points (39).
Kessel, who said with a laugh that she became a goaltender after being the “stereotypical fat kid” as a young child, immediately fell in love with the position. One of the most heavily scrutinized and attention grabbing positions can be a strain on players, but not Kessel.
“That feeling of helping my team at the last possible spot I can, I guess I like the pressure,” Kessel said. “It gives you such an adrenaline rush, making that save where that could be win, or loss or tie. Just knowing that’s on me, even though sometimes it’s hard to handle, it’s just so worth it.”
And with the Wildcats’ first playoff matchup set for 2:30 p.m. Tuesday against Hauppauge at home, Kessel only has one thing left on her mind.
“Going out with a championship would be amazing,” she said. “That’s obviously the final goal and I think we can do it.”