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Shoreham-Wading River girls soccer team worked like a family en route to state title

Shoreham-Wading River's Elizabeth Shields takes the ball past

Shoreham-Wading River's Elizabeth Shields takes the ball past Spencerport's Lilly Eichas during the first half of the NYSPHSAA Class A girls soccer championship against Spencerport at SUNY Cortland on Nov. 17. Credit: John Munson

If it worked for the boys lacrosse team, the Shoreham-Wading River girls soccer team thought maybe it would have the same success for them.

When the Wildcats' boys lacrosse team advanced to the state championship last spring, many players bleached their hair blond. For the first trip to the state semifinals in program history for the Shoreham-Wading River girls soccer team, the student-athletes wanted to do something similar. Some of the players dyed their hair blue — the color of their jerseys — as another way to show the strong camaraderie that allowed them to win a Suffolk County and Long Island Class A title.

“We did this just for states,” said defender Maddy Joannou. “Some of us are seniors and we said we’d never be able to do this again, so we wanted to make it a statement in a way, more intimidating.”

The intimidation factor paid off as the Wildcats posted back-to-back shutouts, culminating in a 2-0 victory over Spencerport in the Class A state championship at Cortland on Nov. 17.

When Elizabeth Shields scored the first goal in the state final, you couldn’t miss her during the celebration.

“My full head is blue,” Shields said. “When I do something, I go all in. So I dyed my full head blue and it was because this is the first time a Shoreham girls [soccer] team has ever made it to states. So we said ‘Let’s do something different.’ The boys bleached their hair for lacrosse, so why not dye it blue?"

It was just another example of how close the team had grown throughout the fall.

“Since the beginning of our season, we were saying this was our goal, to make it to states and make history for our school and we did it,” midfielder Lakin Ciampo said. “It’s something you’re never going to forget.”

The success goes beyond just the goal-scoring and playmaking ability of players such as Shields, Ciampo, Ashley Borriello, Gianna Cacciola, Lydia Radonovitch and GraceAnn Leonard.

The back line of Brooke Langella, Alexa Constant, Sarah Hobbes and Joannou and goalkeeper Allison Devall only allowed multiple goals in two games in a 17-2-2 season.

But the championship season meant even more to the eight seniors, who ended their high school tenures as a part of school history.

“It’s a complete honor,” Devall said. “I feel so proud every day to be a part of a team like this. Every day we work for each other. It’s not about one person, it’s about everybody, so I think that carried us.”

The concept of team was evident throughout the year, including a new introduction by the coaches. Midway through the season, assistant coach Brian Ferguson found shirts with the word "Family" written down the spine. He and coach Adrian Gilmore wore them to practice and the girls immediately wanted them.

“We said, ‘If you continue to work like a family, you will get the shirts,’” Gilmore said. “And it was motivation for a good two weeks of just working together and coming together as one. And ever since they did that, it’s just been all about the team — not individuals — and to be a champion, that’s what you need to be.”

ROAD TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP

Suffolk Class A playoffs

West Babylon, 3-0

Hauppauge, 4-0

Suffolk Class A championship

Harborfields, 2-1

Long Island Class A championship

MacArthur, 2-1

State semifinals

Jamesville-Dewitt, 1-0

State championship

Spencerport, 2-0

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