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Suffolk girls soccer: 10 storylines for the postseason

Emily McNelis will try to lead Northport to

Emily McNelis will try to lead Northport to another Suffolk AA championship. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

It’s been another highly competitive girls soccer season in Suffolk County, plenty of upsets and strong programs continuing their upward trajectory. With that, here are the 10 storylines entering the postseason.

1. Can Northport repeat?

The Tigers have been dominant again, with a 14-0 record, outscoring teams, 80-6. The defending Suffolk Class AA champions have a potent offense, led by Victoria Colatosti’s 20 goals and eight assists, Emily McNelis’ 13 goals and 15 assists and Juliana Conforti’s eight goals and seven assists with Caeley Gruhn on defense and Emma Havrilla in net. Northport defeated Ward Melville, 1-0, in a non-league season opener and has as good a chance as any team to win the county title.

2. Who makes the most noise out of Suffolk I?

In what has been without a doubt the most competitive league in Class AA this season, there are four teams with legitimate county title aspirations in Commack, Ward Melville, Sachem North and Patchogue-Medford.

Commack, one of the perennial powers in Suffolk girls soccer, will rely on a strong defense to keep opponents off their games.

Ward Melville, which defeated Commack late in the season with a winning goal by Nicole Hauss, looks to avenge a semifinal loss from last season.

A senior-laden Sachem North team has given both Ward Melville and Commack trouble this season, with eight goals and five assists from Stephanie Radakovic and eight goals and four assists from Jenna Blank, and the balanced-scoring attack Patchogue-Medford proves no team will have an easy affair matched up with these squads.

3. The Suffolk III powerhouses

Half Hollow Hills East (10-1-1) and Smithtown West (10-1-1) have had phenomenal seasons in a competitive league and will be tough outs in any postseason matchup. Hills East, which defeated and tied Smithtown West this season, has Jess Garziano, who creates nightmare matchup problems with her 10 goals and 10 assists, and a deep lineup capable of scoring at any moment.

Smithtown West, which lost in last season’s county championship game, lost a lot of talent from last season’s roster but Emily Leverich’s 11 goals and two assists and Jillian Meaney’s three goals and five assists with a strong defense allowing just four goals this season and Gabby Lorefice in net has West competing for another chance to play for, an even win, a county title.

4. Don’t count out . . .

The effect of a strong goalkeeper can never be overstated, especially in the playoffs, which is why No. 13 Newfield could pull off some upsets behind Alexis Saladino in net.

Sachem East, the fifth team out of Suffolk I to reach the playoffs, enter as the No. 12 seed, winning its final four games of the season. Led by 10 goals and nine assists by Brooke Papele and Emily Montalbano in net, the Flaming Arrows are battle-tested and ready to go in the playoffs.

West Islip, the Suffolk IV champions, have won two of the last three Class AA championships and have a lineup capable of making that three of the last four. Entering with a 13-1-2 record, led by 13 goals and five assists by Lauren Schmidt, no team is looking forward to a meeting with the Lions.

5. Most intriguing matchups in Suffolk AA

No. 9 Patchogue-Medford at No. 8 Lindenhurst: Patchogue-Medford has played and defeated the top competition in Suffolk in League I, so the Raiders are certainly battle-tested. Lindenhurst, led by 18 goals and eight assists by Erika Breitfeller, has only two losses this season, both to Northport.

No. 10 Eastport-South Manor at No. 7 Smithtown West: Eastport-South Manor has been one of the best feel-good stories in girls soccer this season, posting a 10-3-3 record after not finishing better than .500 in each of the last three seasons. Led by 17 goals and five assists by Gia Inzerillo and Carly Travers in net, the Sharks won’t be an easy out. Smithtown West, a strong program off yet another strong season, looks to return to the county final.

6. How far can Islip’s youth movement go?

Islip is no stranger to playing deep into the postseason, losing last season’s Class A title game to Mount Sinai in penalty kicks after winning the state title the year before. Led by returning All-Long Island selection Hannah Franco, who continues to set up her teammates with 17 assists to go along with her six goals, Islip finished the regular season 12-1-1. Dominique Bono has done a great job finishing her scoring opportunities, with 24 goals and seven assists. With Kayla Multer anchoring the back line, along with Franco depending on the score, the Buccaneers could be on their way to another title opportunity.

7. The power of the goalkeeper

Shoreham-Wading River enters the playoffs 15-0-1, thanks largely to senior goalkeeper Lydia Kessel. One of the best goalkeepers on Long Island, a four-year starter committed to the University of Vermont, Kessel has kept opponents off the scoreboard in 12 games this season. Along with Nicky Constant’s 26 goals and 13 assists, the Wildcats aren’t a team anybody is excited to face in the Class A playoffs.

8. The newcomers looking to shake things up

With programs such as Kings Park, Hauppauge and East Islip dropping down to Class A this season, Suffolk V has been one of the toughest leagues Long Island has experienced in a long time. Kings Park (11-2-1) is led by Samantha Hogan’s seven goals and five assists, including scoring the winning goal to hand Islip its lone loss of the season. Hauppauge, which forced Smithtown West into overtime in the first round of last season’s Class AA playoffs, started this season hot before stumbling down the stretch, losing five of their last seven games, but with a player like Nicole Scudero (11 goals, two assists), the Eagles will be a tough out. East Islip (8-3-3) could have pull an upset or two to turn the bracket upside-down.

9. The dark horses in Suffolk A

Led by Stephanie Tsangaris’ 20 goals and 10 assists and Sabrina Emmerich’s 14 goals and eight assists, Glenn (12-4) enters as the No. 4 seed winning six of its last seven games.

Mount Sinai, the defending Suffolk A champions, can’t be overlooked after finishing with a 10-4-1 record for the No. 6 seed. Led by the versatile Caiya Schuster, the Mustangs could make a deep postseason run.

10. A look at Class B and Class C

After a lengthy appeals process which eventually granted Center Moriches approval to play in the postseason, the Red Devils will open play with Mattituck Tuesday in the Class B semifinals. The two split their regular-season matchups with the winner advancing to meet undefeated Babylon, led by a dangerous trio in Val Velez, Olivia Maldonado and Sarah Quigley, in the final.

Class C will go straight to the county final on Oct. 26 with Stony Brook against Southold/Greenport. Southold/Greenport, led by a Long Island-leading 32 goals and 47 points by Jillian Golden, defeated Stony Brook in both regular-season matchups.

First-round matchups

Suffolk AA matchups on Monday

Winner of No. 17 Huntington/No. 16 Comsewogue at No. 1 Northport

No. 9 Patchogue-Medford at No. 8 Lindenhurst

No. 12 Sachem East at No. 5 Half Hollow Hills East

No. 13 Newfield at No. 4 West Islip

No. 14 North Babylon at No. 3 Commack

No. 11 West Babylon at No. 6 Sachem North

No. 10 Eastport-South Manor at No. 7 Smithtown West

Winner of No. 18 Whitman/No. 15 Connetquot at No. 2 Ward Melville

Suffolk A matchups on Tuesday

Winner of No. 9 Sayville/No. 8 Hauppauge at No. 1 Shoreham-Wading River

No. 5 East Islip at No. 4 Glenn

No. 6 Mount Sinai at No. 3 Kings Park

Winner of No. 10 Harborfields/No. 7 Bayport-Blue Point at No. 2 Islip

Class B semifinals

No. 3 Center Moriches at No. 2 Mattituck on Oct. 24. Winner advances to final vs. Babylon at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 26 at Islip.

Class C finals

No. 2 Stony Brook vs. No. 1 Southold/Greenport at 4 p.m. Oct. 26 at Islip.

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