Ask anybody on the Valley Stream South girls soccer team when they thought winning a state championship was a realistic possibility and you’ll get the same answer — the last time they lost.
After an undefeated regular-season (13-0-1) playing in Nassau AB-V in 2017, winning its first playoff matchup before pushing North Shore, the eventual Long Island Class A champions, in a 5-3 loss in the following round, the Falcons knew they had the talent to play with the best teams on Long Island. And they couldn’t wait to prove it.
“After North Shore, the way the girls felt, we were disappointed,” said senior goalkeeper Natalie Peralta. “No one expected us to win. The fact that we kept it so close, I think that moment from then on was ‘We’re going to win a state championship next year because these girls just don’t like losing.’ And from that moment on, we haven’t lost.”
“After losing that game, we were so determined to come back,” added senior midfielder Yasmin Voytelmgum. “Even on that bus ride, we said ‘We’re getting back here.’”
The Falcons confidence and chemistry continued to grow throughout this season as Valley Stream South won its first state championship in program history, defeating Jamesville-DeWitt, 1-0, in the Class A state final at Cortland High School Nov. 11 to cap off a 21-0 season.
Valley Stream South also received a boost with new players such as Alexxis McNeil, who transferred from Flushing, and Mia Asenjo, who played for Holy Trinity the season before.
“I was like ‘That team is stacked, there’s so many good players on that team,”’ Asenjo said. “So when me and Alexxis McNeil came to this team, we knew were going to go far.”
The road to the championship wasn’t easy for the Falcons, but they knew entering the season what the had to do. After — again — being placed in Nassau AB-V in ability-based conference alignments, Valley Stream South needed to win its conference and then an opening game as the No. 18 seed to reach the round of 16.
Despite an undefeated season, the Falcons needed to knock off second-seeded South Side in the opening round of 16 game to begin its playoff run. With a 2-1 victory over the Cyclones, led by Kayla Camacho’s goal late in the first half to break the tie at 1, the Falcons began their quest for history.
“They’re not the kids you want to tell ‘You can’t do something,’” coach Demetri Adrahtas said. “This is not the group to say ‘You’re not good enough’ to."
With a strong backline featuring Lindsey Smith, Nia Anjou, Hailey Roberts and Allyson Camacho, an offensive attack with Bryana Pizarro, Kayla Camacho and Asenjo with Christina Hillery filling in well after losing standout midfielder Jessica Sierzega early in the season with an ACL injury, Valley Stream South outscored opponents, 92-7, on the season.
But even with being a No. 18 seed and needing to defeat higher ranked teams from the higher conferences, the Falcons never considered themselves underdogs.
“From everyone else’s perspectives, this is a Cinderella story because they kept doubting us,” Peralta said. “Our coach said it, we all said it, just look at what we have. Our actions showed it and they still doubted us. So from their perspective, it is (an underdog story), but for ours, it wasn’t. This was meant to happen.”
FALCONS’ road to the championship
Nassau A playoffs
Island Trees, 3-1
South Side, 2-1
No. 8 MacArthur, 2-0
Long Island championship
Vestal, 3-2 in double overtime
Jamesville-DeWitt, 1-0 in overtime