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Suffolk League VIII preview

Smithtown Christian's Chelsea Bellini (10, right), fights for

Smithtown Christian's Chelsea Bellini (10, right), fights for control against Stony Brook's Brianna Stiklickas (19, left), during their game at Smithtown Christian School. (Oct. 15, 2010) Photo Credit: Richard Slattery


Last Season: 10-2 (11-3), won county championship

Just two years removed from a Class C state championship, it will be a rebuilding year for the Bears of Stony Brook. The core of the championship team, namely Donna Liotine and Michelle Hennessy who are now teammates at Adelphi, has moved on but the team has been left in good hands. With nine seniors lost, the rebuilding process revolves around senior midfielder Kelsey Wentling, who missed last season, and sweeper Madison Rylands, who will be the anchor of a revamped defense. The Bears hope to be strong down the middle with the incorporation of some young talent, including some eighth graders like striker Julia Shi. She is joined on offense by freshman forward Emily Pius and junior forward Gianna Scavo. The team also features three very capable goalkeepers, led by Mikaela Stiklickas, who will also be used at stopper.

Season Opener: Sept. 12, at Westhampton


Last Season: 7-4-1 (8-6-1), lost to Stony Brook in county final

A young team that communicates well, knowing when to push and when to pull back. In the past, Port Jefferson has been a defensive-minded team but will take more of an attacking approach this season behind some talented sophomores, including forward/midfielders Mairead Swords and Olivia Racanelli. Running the backfield will be sophomore defender Danielle Grier and senior defender Allie Vamec.

Season Opener: Sept. 15, at Rocky Point


Last Season: 5-7 (6-8-2)

With the season approaching, Pierson coach Haley Luzim has been satisfied with the improvement she has noticed in her players, which bodes well for a team that missed the playoffs by just one game. The team, which has no seniors on the roster, intends to focus on its passing and ball control with returning players such as freshman center-mid Zoe Diskin. Anchoring the backfield will be junior goalkeeper Julia Schiavoni and junior stopper Sara Hartman.

Season Opener: Sept. 17, at East Hampton


Last Season: 12-0 (12-0), advanced to state title game

The team now belongs to Chelsea Bellini (pictured above). The forward tandem of Bellini and Christina Casamassina, who now plays at Stony Brook University, which terrorized League VIII for the past few seasons has been broken up but the goal for Smithtown Christian remains the same: be on the field in Cortland come November. After an undefeated regular season, SC advanced to the state tournament for the second consecutive season where they fell just short of a state title, losing 3-1 to Chazy in the championship game. With five lost to graduation, there are some holes to fill up the middle. First on the to-do list is to find someone to play opposite Bellini on the wing to help fill the gaping hole left by Casamassina. The team returns eight starters, including junior center-midfielders Shannon Casey and Julia Thomlinson. Junior defender Kiara Foster and sophomore keeper Hannah Steffens also return to anchor the defense. Sophomore Katie Jones, who plays backfield and mid, could also be a key contributor this season. Their familiar road to Cortland may be more difficult than in past seasons. But it’s a road that Bellini, who had 35 goals and 20 assists last season, is set to lead the Knights down.

Season Opener: Sept. 20, at Southold/Greenport

MCGANN-MERCY: 1-11 (1-14)…Season Opener: Sept. 9, vs. East Hampton

SOUTHOLD/GREENPORT: 2-8-2(2-10-2)…Season Opener: Sept. 15, vs. Mattituck

ROSS: 3-8-1 (3-8-1)…Season Opener: Sept. 20, vs. Port Jefferson



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