Here are 10 things to watch as the Suffolk girls soccer playoffs get underway. All stats and results are as reported to Newsday.
1. Smithtown West looks to return to Cortland
Last year was the first time in program history Smithtown West played in a state semifinal. The goals for this year are much larger.
The Bulls earned the top seed in the Suffolk Class AA playoffs after an undefeated season and enter the playoffs as the unquestioned favorites for another county title. Smithtown West has emphasized possession throughout the season, allowing only four goals with Jillian Meaney as a tough, two-way midfielder, a strong back line and Emily Wallace in goal.
Emily Leverich has six goals and three assists and could be primed for a huge postseason. Nicole Menella added eight goals.
2. Who doesn’t love the underdog?
Suffolk County has adapted a power points system the past two seasons, which allows for lower-ranked teams entering the season to earn additional points by beating higher-ranked teams, along with playing more competitive games throughout the year.
Two teams, specifically, in Suffolk Class AA have capitalized on their opportunities and will have home field advantages that seemed unlikely by the preseason rankings. Centereach, which entered the season ranked No. 13, will be the No. 4 seed. Smithtown East, which entered the year ranked No. 16, will be the sixth seed.
Nicole Fabris has 17 goals with six assists to lead Centereach, which also pushed Smithtown West to a tough 2-1 game this year. Jessica Gengler has 19 goals and two assists for Smithtown East, which has lost only two games all year.
3. Sachem East is tested
Some schools embrace the challenge of scheduling non-conference games that seem to be a no-win situation.
Sachem East opened its season at St. Anthony’s -- the two-time defending CHSAA state champions and a nationally ranked team. Sachem East lost, 5-0. But the Flaming Arrows ran the field with one of the best teams in the area and it only helped prepare them for the rest of the season.
Sachem East is the No. 2 seed and has won its last five games, including three via shutouts. Abby Carroll has five goals and six assists, including posting multiple points in four of the final five games. Sachem East hasn’t won a county title since 2007, but after playing championship teams, maybe the players know what it takes.
4. Do not count out …
There are a handful of teams in Class AA that should feel confident about a deep postseason run and winning a title. There has been plenty of parity during the season, which helps teams deal with adversity that may not have otherwise. Here are some times that could benefit.
No. 7 Ward Melville: The Patriots haven’t ended their season on the highest note, but they’ve been tested by some of the top teams in Class AA all season and will be a tough matchup throughout the playoffs.
No. 9 Commack: The Cougars are the only team to play Smithtown West and walk off the field without a loss, playing to a scoreless tie. This alone is enough of a confidence booster during the postseason. Commack has long been a top program in the county, and the duo of Jenna Tompkins and Abby Meneses will be a tough pair to contain.
No. 3 West Islip: West Islip embraces a “blue collar” mentality, seeking to outwork the opponent for 80 minutes. Jaden Hampel leads the way with 12 goals and two assists.
No. 5 Northport: Northport has one of the top programs in Suffolk every year. The Tigers entered the season as the second-ranked team, and played one of the toughest schedules on Long Island. Don’t let the lack of a double-digit win total fool you, Northport yet again will be in the title mix, led by Dana Schoeps and a talented roster.
5. A dynamic duo in Class A
Half Hollow Hills West has a 1-2 scoring punch few on Long Island can compete with when it comes to Jordyn Levy and Carly Bloom. Levy has 20 goals and nine assists, and Bloom has 11 goals and eight assists for the top-seeded Colts.
Levy is a dynamic playmaker who led Suffolk in scoring as a sophomore last season and continues to improve her game every year. Hills West is tested with a tough schedule and is looking for its first county title.
6. Shoreham-Wading River posing another threat
The second-seeded Wildcats are in the Class A championship picture year after year and are playing up to their usual standard this fall. Alison Devall controls the game from the goal as Shoreham-Wading River has only allowed more than one goal once this year.
7. Hauppauge and Glenn in the mix
Not quite to the same extreme as Centereach and Smithtown East in Class AA, Hauppauge and Glenn are showing they don’t care about preseason rankings. No. 3 Hauppauge and No. 4 Glenn will be hosting home playoff games, which may not have been the predictions back in September.
But with Alex Rush (11 goals, two assists) for Hauppauge, and Emma Voege with five goals and 12 assists and Sarah Emmi with 12 goals and three assists for Glenn, both teams can make noise in the championship hunt.
8. The preseason favorites
West Babylon, Eastport-South Manor and Islip were all top-four teams entering the season. Although they won’t be ranked that way in the postseason, it doesn’t mean they aren’t in the same championship mix expected in September.
No. 7 West Babylon has Jazzmin Terrell (11 goals, four assists) and Erin Thompson (nine goals, six assists) as a part of a team that has played one of the toughest schedules in Suffolk Class A.
No. 5 Eastport-South Manor: Kasey McConnell has 10 goals and four assists, Isabella Arato anchors the defense and Carly Travers controls the goal for the Sharks, which finished with one loss over their last eight games.
No. 6 Islip: The defending Class A champion features Madison Micheletti with 12 goals and six assists and Aaliyah Esmurria with three goals and eight assists. The Buccaneers always seem to be at their best when the game matters most.
9. A look into Class B
Babylon will be the top seed in the Class B playoffs after finishing 11-4 with a schedule featuring some of the top seeds in the Class A playoffs. Campbell Stein had 12 goals and 14 assists, Meghan Flaugher had 15 goals and four assists and Ashley Bell had 14 goals and three assists for Babylon during the regular season.
No. 2 Mattituck/Southold/Greenport, which won the Suffolk B title last year, features Claire Gatz, who had 12 goals and seven assists and the versatile Sarah Santacroce, who will sometimes play the field (four goals, seven assists) or play in goal. Center Moriches defeated Mattituck/Southold/Greenport, 3-2, in the regular season, led by two goals from Sarah Chernis.
10. The first-round schedule:
Class AA at higher seeds on Monday
No. 15 Deer Park at No. 2 Sachem East
No. 14 Half Hollow Hills East at No. 3 West Islip
No. 13 Patchogue-Medford at No. 4 Centereach
No. 12 North Babylon at No. 5 Northport
No. 11 Newfield at No. 6 Smithtown East
No. 10 East Islip at No. 7 Ward Melville
No. 9 Commack at No. 8 Connetquot (winner plays at No. 1 Smithtown West)
Class A at higher seeds on Tuesday
Winner of No. 9 Sayville/No. 8 Harborfields at No. 1 Half Hollow Hills West
Winner of No. 10 Bayport-Blue Point/No. 7 West Babylon at No. 2 Shoreham-Wading River
No. 6 Islip at No. 3 Hauppauge
No. 5 Eastport-South Manor at No. 4 Glenn
Suffolk Class B semifinals at higher seed on Tuesday
No. 4 Southampton at No. 1 Babylon
No. 3 Center Moriches at No. 2 Mattituck/Southold/Greenport