Feelings of euphoria, appreciation and success often have surrounded the Massapequa girls soccer team in recent years. One feeling that rarely comes around is that of being overlooked.
“For however long I’ve been on the team, we’ve always been ranked nationally, ranked [near the top] in New York State, and this year we weren’t even ranked at all,” senior midfielder Grace Bernardi said. “So we are just progressively trying to prove that we are still the top team in the state and one of the top teams in the country.”
Message sent and received.
After a scoreless first half Monday night, Massapequa tallied three goals in a 25-minute span in the second half to defeat Port Washington, 3-0, in a Nassau AA-I girls soccer match at Burns Park in Massapequa. After starting the season 0-1-3, the Chiefs have held teams to just one goal over the last nine games, improving to 8-1-4 overall and 8-1-1 in the conference.
Massapequa has advanced to play in the state championships in Cortland each of the last five seasons. The Chiefs are determined to extend that streak to six.
“For the past five years, we’ve gone up to states so we’re trying to get back up there,” senior Kate Fiola said. “First comes counties, then Long Island. Then we’re going to get back up to states.”
On Monday it was Emma Cooney who opened the scoring, executing a give-and-go with Kayla Mushorn and finding the back of the net in the 47th minute to give Massapequa a 1-0 lead over Port Washington (1-8-1).
“It felt amazing to start the 3-0 streak,” Cooney said. “I think it really started to rally us as a team. We started playing really well after that.”
Fiola added a goal in the 61st minute and Bernardi scored off an assist from Josephine Alliano in the 72nd minute.
“I think now we’re starting to hit our stride,” coach Bruce Stegner said. “When we play the ball on the ground, it’s impressive stuff because we have enough skilled players.”
The backline, featuring Kirstyn Kilmeade, Elisabeth Hingher, Julia Iannarelli and Brenna Brown, along with the goalkeeping combination of Erin Kelly and Lindsey Jolly, had another strong game in the Chiefs’ fifth straight shutout.
“I think this team just really wants to win,” Bernardi said. “We have all the older girls talking about their past experiences, going to states; a few of us went to states and won. And going to states the past few years and losing, it’s a terrible feeling, so I just think we have an urgency to win this year.”