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Massapequa’s Hope Breslin is hoping for fourth state championship

Hope Breslin #11 of Massapequa reacts after scoring

Hope Breslin #11 of Massapequa reacts after scoring a goal in the second half of the Nassau Class AA girls soccer final against Calhoun at Cold Spring Harbor High School on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016. Credit: James Escher

It’s the only conclusion to a season Hope Breslin has come to known in her four seasons with Massapequa girls soccer.

Breslin, the program’s all-time leading goal scorer with 80 goals in four seasons, has been a focal point for the Chiefs’ three-straight state Class AA championships.

They are now two wins away from making that number four.

“On the back of one of our warm-up shirts, we have ‘Score for four’ because we know that’s our ultimate goal in the end,” Breslin said. “So right now, we just got to stay calm. Obviously we’re so happy to be heading back to Cortland, but we’ve got to stay calm and confident and just go in there and play our game.”

Massapequa (18-1-1) will be one of four Long Island schools playing in Cortland this weekend in hopes of capturing a state championship. Garden City (Class A), Wheatley (Class B) and Port Jefferson (Class C) also begin semifinal play Saturday and Sacred Heart plays Nardin Academy of Buffalo for the state CHSAA championship at Niagara University near Buffalo, at 11:30 a.m. Saturday.

The Chiefs open with Niskayuna (Section II) at Tompkins Cortland Community College at 12:30 p.m. With a victory, Massapequa plays for the state Class AA title at 12:15 p.m. Sunday at Cortland State’s White Field.

“Yeah we love Cortland,” coach Bruce Stegner said. “These girls have been there. Hope’s been there, this will be her fourth year and she’s the leader of the team so I think she just gives a sense of confidence and comfort to everybody.”

Along with Breslin, Julia Hannon has been a dangerous playmaker for the Chiefs all season with players like Sierra Brophy, Grace Bernardi, Julia Ophals, Cassidy Byrns and goalkeeper Haylee Poltorak playing key roles in the postseason run.

But Massapequa isn’t the only team going for a repeat this year.

Defending state Class C champions Port Jefferson returns to Cortland with a dominant senior trio leading the attack in Jillian Colucci, Brittney Fazin and Clare O’Connor.

Port Jefferson (15-1-1) defeated Haldane (Section I), 3-0, in the regionals and will meet Little Falls (Section III) at Cortland High School at 3 p.m. Saturday. With a win, the Royals play to defend their title at Cortland State’s Red Field at 2 p.m. Sunday. But they aren’t taking anything for granted.

“It’s definitely exciting,” said Colucci, a senior who leads Suffolk in goals (28), assists (17) and points (45). “We’re going in with a fresh mindset though because it’s a new year, new teams, new competition.”

The Royals back line of Katie Connolly, Corinne Scannell, Alexa Wakefield and Camryn Ward with Brianna Scarda in net has been incredible all season, allowing one goal or fewer in each of the past 10 games.

“They’re pumped,” coach Michelle Aponte said. “They can’t wait to get back up there again. We have pretty much our entire team returning from last year and a lot of them are seniors so I think that’s a big goal for them to end their senior year with a championship.”

Garden City (11-4-3) won its second straight Nassau Class A championship and defeated Mount Sinai, 1-0, in the Long Island Class A championship. Led by a talented back line of Megan Seel, Kate Farrell, Jackie Seel and Gabriella Rodgers with Kaitlyn Larsson in net, the Trojans haven’t allowed a goal in 460 minutes of postseason soccer this season and more than 995 minutes dating to the 2014 playoffs. The Trojans lost the Long Island championship in penalty kicks last season to Islip, which went on to win the state title. Garden City last won a state championship in 2013.

“Right now we’re playing with house money,” coach Mike Heedles said. “We’re on our way. Having some players with experience up there and sharing it with the rest of the underclassmen, not many teams in high school sports get to do this and we’re fortunate enough to be doing it again.”

The Trojans open play with Jamesville DeWitt (Section III) at Tompkins Cortland Community College at 3 p.m. Saturday, and with a win, advance to the state championship at Cortland State’s Red Field at 11:30 a.m. Sunday.

Wheatley (12-1-4) is heading to the state Class B semifinal for the first time since 2006 after defeating Babylon, 5-1, in the Long Island championship. Led by a dangerous duo of Allie LaMonica and Tiffany Bernot, Wheatley is looking to go on a deep run in Cortland, starting with the state semifinal against Westhill (Section III) at Cortland High School at 10 a.m. Saturday. Wheatley would advance to the state final at Cortland State’s Red Field at 9 a.m. Sunday a.m. with a win.

“We’ve been dreaming of this since the season started,” Bernot said. “Both of our coaches have been saying, ‘This is what we’ve been working toward since preseason’ and to know we actually made it through is just amazing.”

“We only lost one game all season to a very good North Shore team,” coach Paul Paino said. “I don’t expect to see too many teams as good as them, so I would expect to see the same competition we’ve been beating in [Babylon] and Carle Place. I have a lot of confidence. I think we can do well up there.”

Sacred Heart (14-3) defeated Christ the King, 7-0, in the state CHSAA semifinal after knocking off previously undefeated St. Anthony’s in penalty kicks after a scoreless regulation for the CHSAA Long Island championship. Victoria Minda followed scoring the final penalty-kick goal against the Friars by scoring three goals against Christ the King. Caitlin Kennedy scored two goals, raising her season total to 26.

Sacred Heart plays Nardin Academy for the state CHSAA championship at Niagara University at 11:30 a.m. Saturday.

Regardless of the results, the five Long Island champions are ending their careers playing for the ultimate prize in New York high school soccer. Something none of them will ever forget.

“Over the past four years, it’s been an incredible experience,” Breslin said. “I never want it to end. These girls every year are like my family and we play so well together. I love it.”


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