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Nassau girls soccer: A postseason primer

Annie Coogan and Calhoun are looking to win

Annie Coogan and Calhoun are looking to win the Nassau Class AA title this postseason. Here, she moves past Port Washington's Ava Sann on Sept. 13, 2017. Credit: Peter Frutkoff

Since the start of the 21st century, the Nassau County girls soccer playoffs has been more of a formality.

With Massapequa winning 13 of the last 14 Nassau Class AA titles and either South Side or Garden City winning every Class A title since the turn of the century, the county champion has been more of a forgone conclusion.

But that’s not the case this season as teams have beaten up on one another all season, with no clear dominant team emerging during the regular season.

What does that translate to?

A terrific postseason.

Here’s a look at the many teams that should feel as confident as any team about their postseason chances.

First in Nassau AA, the case for . . . No. 1 Calhoun (8-1-1)

After losing the Class AA championship game last season to Massapequa, the Colts got some revenge during the regular season with a pair of 1-0 victories over the Chiefs. Annie Coogan (eight goals, two assists) had the winning goal in both games. Katie Healy, with her five goals and two assists, is a great presence at midfield and the Colts have only allowed seven goals with Julia Miguel in net, with three coming in a loss to East Meadow. Calhoun will not be an easy matchup for any team in the postseason.

No. 2 East Meadow (6-1-3)

Led by one of the elite goaltenders on Long Island in Stephanie Sparkowski, a sophomore verbally committed to Michigan, East Meadow has been the most consistent team in Nassau AA-I this season. Filled with young talent, including freshman Myla McLeod with six goals and four assists and her tremendous speed, the Jets have a great chance at winning a county championship this year and in the future. Their lone conference loss came in a 2-0 game against Massapequa on the final game of the season.

No. 3 Massapequa (6-2-2)

The Chiefs have been without a doubt the elite of Nassau AA this century, winning five straight Nassau AA titles and 13 of the last 14 county titles. But things haven’t been as easy for Massapequa since the graduation of Hope Breslin, with two losses to Calhoun and two ties. But a late-season, 3-0 victory over defending state CHSAA champion Sacred Heart and a 2-0 victory over East Meadow in the final conference game has the Chiefs trending in the right direction at the right time. Led by Grace Bernardi and Morgan Camarda at midfield, and Haylee Poltorak in net, Massapequa will certainly be a factor again in the race for a Nassau AA title.

But don’t count out . . .

No. 4 Hicksville, No. 5 Port Washington and No. 6 Syosset round out the rest of Nassau AA-I in the ability based conference alignments. Hicksville has played East Meadow tough twice, with a tie and a 1-0 loss. Port Washington had a pair of conference wins and Syosset posted a 0-0 tie with Massapequa.

No. 7 Farmingdale (9-1) won Nassau AA-II, led by eight goals and 11 assists by Sydney Moore.

Nassau A

Class A has been as unpredictable as it gets this season, with nearly every game going to the final second and teams beating up on one another throughout the season. With that, every team in Nassau AB-I has a legitimate chance at a county title, so we’ll start with the case for . . .

No. 1 North Shore (6-2-2)

Not many teams can move from Nassau AB-II to Nassau AB-I and make an immediate impact, but not many teams had the returning talent of North Shore. With Selena Fortich setting the pace at midfield and Izzy Glennon (11 goals, three assists) and Cailey Welch (15 goals, three assists) to finish plays up top, North Shore has pushed the ball the majority of the games. Highlighted by two multigoal victories over South Side, North Shore could easily find itself playing for a county championship.

No. 2 South Side (6-3-1)

An elite program on Long Island, South Side struggled to start its season, but has played better to close the regular season. Winning five of its final eight games (one tie), the Cyclones are led by Alex Chruma and Olivia Rodriguez at midfield and Jolie Creo’s six goals, with Julia Cavanagh in net. The Cyclones hope to carry their momentum off a last-second victory over Wantagh in the second-to-last game of the season into postseason success.

No. 3 Manhasset (4-3-3)

The Indians have been North Shore’s kryptonite this season, defeating the conference champion in a pair of one-goal games. They are led by a strong defense, including Olivia Wesch and Lauren Ferraris with Ava Albanese in net. Manhasset has only allowed multiple goals in one of their conference games and seven of their decisions — not including ties — have been one-goal games. If the saying holds that defense wins championships, Manhasset will be a tough out.

No. 4 Wantagh (4-4-2)

After playing Garden City, the eventual Long Island Class A champions, to a scoreless tie before losing in penalty kicks in last season’s county semifinal, the Warriors returned a strong core in Julianna King in net, Julianna Kissane (five goals and four assists) and Casey O’Connor on defense. They’ve experienced some tough close losses to end the season, but the Warriors aren’t a team to be taken lightly in the playoffs.

No. 5 Garden City (3-3-4)

You never want to rule out a program with rich history like Garden City, especially coming off a championship season. The defending Long Island Class A champions graduated a strong core last season, but returns Jackie Morris (12 goals, three assists) from last season’s run. The Trojans were on the wrong end of five-straight one-goal games early in the season, but are playing strong soccer at the right time and could be poised for another championship season, scoring at least three goals in their three final games of the season.

But don’t count out . . .

No. 6 Lynbrook, the final team in Nassau AB-I, which hasn’t won a conference game this season, but have a terrific playmaker in Gina Giovinco with seven goals and two assists. No. 7 MacArthur (9-0-3) has been dominant in Nassau AB-II this season, not even knowing what it feels like to lose. Led by Kara DeBlaiso’s 16 goals and eight assists, the Generals could have what it takes to pull off some upsets in the postseason.

Class B playoff outlook

After advancing to the state semifinals last season, No. 1 Wheatley looks as strong as ever, led by Tiffany Bernot. Wheatley will play the winner of No. 3 Oyster Bay vs. No. 2 Carle Place Nov. 3 at Cold Spring Harbor in the first of a championship tripleheader with Nassau A and AA playing afterward.

First-round matchups

Nassau AA first-round games on Monday, followed by quarterfinals Thursday

No. 9 Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK at No. 8 Baldwin. Winner at No. 1 Calhoun

No. 12 Long Beach at No. 4 Hicksville. Winner at No. 4 Hicksville

No. 10 Oceanside at No. 7 Farmingdale. Winner at No. 2 East Meadow

No. 11 Herricks at No. 6 Syosset. Winner at No. 3 Massapequa

Nassau A games on Tuesday

No. 17 Valley Stream South/No. 16 Locust Valley winner at No. 1 North Shore

No. 9 Bellmore JFK at No. 8 Cold Spring Harbor

No. 13 New Hyde Park at No. 4 Wantagh

No. 12 Mephan at No. 5 Garden City

No. 18 Malverne/East Rockaway vs. No. 15 Friends Academy winner at No. 2 South Side

No. 10 Plainedge at No. 7 MacArthur

No. 14 Bethpage at No. 3 Manhasset

No. 11 Valley Stream North at No. 6 Lynbrook

Class B semifinals

No. 3 Oyster Bay vs. No. 2 Carle Place Oct. 30. Winner plays No. 1 Wheatley at 2 p.m. Nov. 3 at Cold Spring Harbor.

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