Cassidy Byrns’ roles on the team could take a while to describe.
Her primary one may be a standout defender, but she’s added four goals this season — two coming in Massapequa’s playoff run. And when needed, she’s a team motivator like when goaltender Haylee Poltorak took a big hit in net after making one of her 10 crucial saves, with less than two minutes remaining in the Long Island Class AA girls soccer championship Friday night.
Byrns took her job of defense literally, speaking with Poltorak even as play was going on.
“I could tell she was in pain,” Byrns said, “but the clock was stopped with two minutes so I knew there was less than two minutes, maybe 1:30, so I said just give it your all and after you can complain.”
“I thought I was going to come out,” Poltorak said, “and she was like ‘You have two minutes left, we’re going to states, just push through it.’ And I needed that to push the game out.”
Massapequa defeated Northport, 3-2, in tough match in front of an estimated 2,000 at St. Joseph’s (L.I.) to win its fourth straight Long Island Class AA title and sixth in the last eight years. It also means they’ll be making their fourth straight trip upstate.
But for the third consecutive match, Massapequa found itself behind after Northport’s Victoria Colatosti scored the first goal with 28:48 remaining in the first half.
“There’s no explanation for it,” Byrns said. “I guess that’s just how it happens. But I think we’ve done a good job of showing each other and pushing each other to get back and keep it going.”
And like the Chiefs have been trending in recent postseason matches, they didn’t take long to respond. After pushing the pace offensively, Northport allowed an own goal, credited to Massapequa’s Julia Ophals, less than five minutes later.
Massapequa (16-1-2) had the final say of the half when Morgan Camarda corralled a rebound off a direct kick by Hope Breslin off the crossbar with 2:34 remaining in the period to take a 2-1 lead. The Chiefs extended that less than five minutes into the second half when Breslin found freshman Sierra Brophy, who has scored in each of her first four varsity playoff games.
“We’ve come to believe that we’re a second-half team,” said Breslin, waiting to take a family-sized box of Goldfish back to the team bus. “We know if they score first, we can’t just panic and we have to stay calm and we knew that it was going to be a really hard game.”
Northport (18-2-1) pushed down two goals, however, as Juliana Conforti put in a rebound to make it 3-2 with 11:56 remaining in the match.
Massapequa will play in the state semifinal at Tompkins Cortland Community College at 10 a.m. next Saturday.