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Massapequa’s state soccer Three-Peat a total team effort

Massapequa players and coaches after winning the Class

Massapequa players and coaches after winning the Class AA soccer championship at SUNY Cortland on Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. Photo Credit: Rich Barnes

Skylar Vitiello, Bianca Furci and Melanie Hingher went online and Googled tribal symbols.

Hingher came up with the idea to develop a symbol for the Massapequa Chiefs - nicknamed “The Tribe” – during their quest for a third straight state title. Vitiello found three that best represented the team. Furci combined them into one design.

Each member of the Chiefs then drew it on their wrists before each playoff game. Massapequa went on to become the first Class AA soccer team in New York, girls or boys, to win three state championships in a row.

The first symbol was a cross.

“The cross,” Vitiello said, “represented how we were so close that we were sisters.”

That showed in the cohesiveness of a veteran backline. Senior defenders Vitiello, Furci, Hingher, and Mikayla Pugliese were a stabilizing force, working together to quickly advance the ball and play to feet. Backing them up was goalkeeper Rebecca White, who Massapequa coach Bruce Stegner said played “the best game of her life” in the state final.

“Since tryouts we said we were going to get to Cortland and walk away with state championship plaques because it’s what we’re used to,” White said. “We’ve never faced a huge loss during out high school career and our senior year wasn’t going to be the first time we would do that.”

The second symbol were zigzagged lines.

“The zigzags” Furci said, “meant our destination. We knew we had to overcome the bumps and hardships we might face to get there.”

That destination was Cortland. The Chiefs got their after capturing a 12th county title in 13 seasons and a fourth Long Island championship in six seasons.

Their formidable offense was led by Hope Breslin, who nearly tripled her scoring total from the previous season with 28 goals, including two in the final 20 minutes of the state final. Aiding in Breslin’s increased production was the highly improved playmaking and finishing ability of Marisa Fischetti and Julia Ophals, who moved to her natural position of striker and recorded seven goals and 16 assists.

Two offensive minded freshman midfielders, Julia Hannon and Grace Bernardi, added another dimension to the Chiefs’ attack.

“Don’t get me wrong, the girls last year were also very good,” Breslin said. “But this season I think we clicked a little more in the midfield and we knew when to pass to each other. My teammates really helped me get the ball when I was open.”

The third symbol was circles.

“The circle,” Hingher said,” stood for time. We wanted 80 more minutes with each other.”

With the senior core now having played their final minutes of varsity soccer, Hingher reflected on the past. She recalled watching the Massapequa varsity team when she was younger, dreaming of being on the team. Winning a state title, though, seemed an almost unattainable goal.

“It never seemed realistic to me until we actually won when I was in tenth grade,” she said. “From that point on, we didn’t want anything less than that.”

And now they symbolize a dynasty.

CHIEFS’ road to the championship

Nassau playoffs

Baldwin, 3-0

Oceanside, 3-2

Nassau championship

Port Washington, 3-2

Long Island championship

West Islip, 3-0

State tournament

Clarence, 2-0

Baldwinsville, 2-1

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