CORTLAND, N.Y. — Rarely is the term ‘underdog’ used to describe Massapequa girls soccer team, but this season was different.
The Chiefs entered the year with a younger, inexperienced roster compared to previous seasons. Nothing was guaranteed even though they had won 13 county titles in 14 years and had made four straight trips to states.
They made another run this year, though, but their state title hopes fell short Sunday when they lost, 2-0, to Baldwinsville in the Class AA championship at Cortland High School. Massapequa entered in search of its fourth state title in five years.
“Going into the season, we didn’t think we were going to go as far as we did,” said Massapequa’s Haylee Poltorak, in her second season as the starting goalie. “I think the [county championship] was a huge win, [the LI title] was a huge win and just to make it to states was a huge win, but doesn’t work out in our favor. But I’m just so proud we got here.”
The Chiefs (15-4-2) defied not only others expectations, but even some of their own after winning the county championship over Calhoun — a team Massapequa lost to twice during the season — to start a run of three-straight overtime victories. They defeated Northport for the Long Island title and Clarence (Buffalo) in a state semifinal.
“I’m as proud of this team as any team I’ve coached,” coach Bruce Stegner said. “I would say that this team accomplished as much as anyone could have expected.”
Massapequa made a state championship run in large part due to a stout defense of Alexandra Valentine, Kirstyn Kilmeade, Elisabeth Hingher and Brenna Brown with Poltorak in net only allowing one goal in the 10 games leading up to the state final. With Morgan Camarda, Meaghan O’Callaghan, Emma Cooney, Kate Fiola, Kayla Mushorn, Grace Bernardi, Sophia Hatziyianis, Kristen McLeod, Cara Scanio and Jaclyn Portogallo filling in key roles throughout the season, Massapequa proved to still have championship depth.
Baldwinsville (19-2) struck with 15:44 left in the first half off a corner kick from Kelsey Delola to Katherine Pascale for the first goal Sunday. Hannah Mimas added the final goal with 24:58 remaining, but Massapequa’s offense continued to push until the end.
“We don’t give up, that’s the best thing about us is we never give up,” Camarda said. “We always play our hearts out and find a way to win, but today it obviously didn’t work, but we still worked as hard as we could.”
“Definitely this year has been way harder than any other year I’ve been on the team,” Poltorak said. “I think just coming out and being the underdogs, not winning every game and still making it to States, I just think that makes it so much more exciting.”