CORTLAND, N.Y. —- This season felt different for the Massapequa girls soccer team from the very start.
Although many teams may try to portray themselves as the “underdogs” to provide that additional motivation, a program such as Massapequa is rarely able to do that. But this year it could.
Last season, for the first time since 2012, the Chiefs not only fell short of advancing to the state semifinals, but they were upset in the quarterfinals of the Nassau Class AA playoffs. It was a feeling no player on the field ever forgot.
Massapequa avenged last season’s disappointment and returned to Cortland after winning its sixth Long Island Class AA title in the last seven years. But the Chiefs fell to Fayetteville-Manlius, 2-1, in the girls soccer Class AA state semifinals at SUNY Cortland on Saturday afternoon.
“I feel like from the start of the season, we were the underdogs, especially after last season,” senior midfielder Jaclyn Portogallo said. “To just come so far is an honor and I’m so happy and proud of all of my teammates.”
With 10 seniors, including starters Julia Stegner, Sophia Hatziyianis and Sierra Brophy, along with captains Kayla Mushorn, Emma Cooney and Portogallo, the group felt a sense of pride and responsibility to help bring the Chiefs back to Cortland.
“I’m so proud of everything this team had to offer this season,” Mushorn said. “Since August, we’ve been pushing, working hard and I feel like this group is so different from any other group we’ve had. We were so close since the beginning.”
And for Mushorn, that goes beyond just the captains or the seniors.
“It’s more than just a team, it’s family,” Mushorn said. “Without all of these 32 girls, we couldn’t have been able to get here, so I’m really proud of them and that I was able to lead the team with Emma and Jackie.”
Massapequa (16-3) began its postseason run with an overtime victory after Oceanside scored the final three goals over 21 minutes to force extra time. The Chiefs also had one of their toughest games in their final contest on Long Island, defeating West Islip, 1-0, in double overtime to advance to Cortland.
“Lots of perseverance,” coach Bruce Stegner said. “We dealt with some adversity pretty well and to get back up here was a great accomplishment of itself. One goal, one play either way and we’re still playing, so that’s the tough thing about soccer.”
Lauren Clark scored the winning goal for Fayetteville-Manlius (19-1), breaking a tie at 1-1 with 21:27 remaining in the second half. Morgan Goodman scored the opening goal for Fayetteville-Manlius six minutes into the contest and Massapequa tied the score at 1 with a goal from Gianna Savella off an assist from Portogallo with 24:47 left in the first half.
“It’s definitely an honor being a captain and being able to have my team compete at states,” Cooney said. “This is what we dreamed of at the beginning of the season. Didn’t quite end how we wanted it to but I’m extremely proud of everyone and how we played.”