Senior starters Kim Marra, Emily Meier and Connie Nielsen didn’t want to leave the field.
Sayville coach Joe Nasta called the loss his worst experience in coaching.
The unbeaten Golden Flashes, the defending county champs who came within a penalty shot of playing for a Long Island Championship last season, saw a dominant season come to a shocking end on Friday as they fell to No. 5 Islip, 1-0, in the Class A semifinals.
Morgan Santoro scored the game’s lone goal on a free kick at 7:34 in the first half. Islip (7-8-2) advances to the county championship game for the second straight year. They’ll play No. 2 Bayport-Blue Point at 4 p.m. on Wednesday at Dowling Sports Complex.
Sayville (17-1) had golden opportunities in the second half, hitting the crossbar on one shot, but couldn’t get the equalizer past Islip keeper Tara Mackey and the extra defenders playing in the back.
It’s a little sooner than expected but Sayville is now looking towards next season. They lose some key seniors, including arguably their best player in Marra, but will return a strong core, including: Madison Hoon, Amanda Famularo, Samantha Bishop, Jackie Christensen, Elizabeth Koehler, keeper Olivia Coley-Bishop and others. They will also tap into an unbeaten JV squad.
Newsday caught up with Coach Nasta to discuss the loss, the shock and the future:
How did Islip manage to do what no team could do all season?
“We were playing a team that was a notch better than our league competition. We did play a couple of quality teams in our non-league schedule but that’s two months ago. We hadn’t played a team that could pressure us the way that Islip could. Our attack, nobody could really stop us in our league. But Islip was maybe a little more aggressive than any of the teams we had been playing.
“In the first half, we were into the wind, we were trying to adjust to the pace of the game. They played hard, scored a goal off a free kick, the kid had a nice shot. It was probably an even first half, territorially and possession wise. Second half, we had the wind and the ball was in their end probably 35 of 40 minutes of the second half. We had numerous chances. We hit the crossbar, shots just over the top, just wide. Their keeper played a great game, she was all over the place. We were swarming the whole second half but we couldn’t the ball to go in. The ball wasn’t bouncing our way and they had a lot of players back, a lot of bodies in the box. We couldn’t poke one in. At halftime we were 1-0 down with a strong tailwind, I wasn’t worried. I had all the confidence that we were going to put two or three in. But it didn’t happen. We were all kind of shocked. To their credit, they played hard and did enough to win the game. “
How did the added defensive pressure in the second half affect the team?
“The ball was bouncing around like a pinball machine but even with all of that we did have opportunities that normally we would have put in. I’m not sure what happened. The keeper played well, she was flopping around all over, making stops. It just happened, that’s what’s weird about this game. They’re moving on and we’re not. We have to wait and try to regroup and come back hard next year.”
What was the reaction like after the game?
“It was horrible. It was my worst experience in coaching. It was terrible. It was shock, they couldn’t believe that they couldn’t get it done and that it was over. Again, when you have a season like we had, not that you want to project yourself too far, we were expecting things this year. We were on a mission to get to a certain point and we played well enough Friday to get to the next step and it didn’t work out. Everybody was kind of shocked. Obviously the seniors, we have three senior starters and they were my captains, the leaders of the team, quality kids and quality players. They didn’t want to leave the field, they didn’t want to walk off the field, they couldn’t believe it was over. So it was tough. You try to keep it in perspective, it’s just a high school game, blah, blah, blah…At the time, it’s big. At the time in these kid’s life, it’s really big. We came so close last year and we thought we had a better team this year.”
What did you say to the team after the game?
“I’ve never experienced a loss like that. I said, ‘Listen, keep your heads up. You should be proud, I’m proud. We all tried to do the best we could.’ There’s not a lot of things you can say.”
What will this team look like next season?
“I have three senior starters and they’re gone and we’re going to miss them. Kim Marra, Emily Meier and Connie Nielsen. Most people know Kim Marra but the other two are extremely solid players. They are basically lacrosse players, they’re good athletes. Their sport is lacrosse but they are excellent soccer players. They work hard, their great leaders, they give it all. I’m going to miss them big time. As far as replacing them on the field, Marra is going to be rough. She clearly was the best player in every game she played this year. We’re going to miss that. I had kids that I couldn’t even get in games that are very good players. We had that depth all year and I tried a bunch of kids on Friday but nothing was going to work I guess. We have a nice group coming back and our JV was undefeated, gave up one goal all year, so there’s a couple of kids coming up. It’s not like this was it, like this was our one big chance and we have to wait a few years. We’ll be back again next year.”