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LI’s Allie Long: ‘I want to be the best player in the world’

 Northport's Allie Long, a member of the U.S. Olympic soccer team, held a winter soccer clinic for girls at Crestwood Country Day School on Dec. 26, 2016. Credit: Newsday / Chris Ware

The soccer season never ends for Allie Long.

When she is not playing with the Portland Thorns or with the U.S. national team, the Northport High School graduate can be found flying to Spain for a soccer-dominated honeymoon, giving a clinic in the Cayman Islands or on Long Island, or getting a head start preparing for the coming season in Houston with U.S. camp looming in Los Angeles this month.

Long not only broke into the national side last year but became a starter and lived a lifelong dream of competing at the Olympics. Though the next big competition isn’t until the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France, she hasn’t left anything to chance.

And the versatile 29-year-old midfielder still is plenty hungry.

“I want to be the best player in the world,” Long said. “Now that I am in that environment, I could play on a world stage against the best players. That is the driving force. I don’t put a limit on myself. I want to be the best player I can be. I want to be the best player in the world in my position.”

Long had mixed emotions last year. She was named to the National Women’s Soccer League Best XI and was an MVP finalist, but her Thorns were eliminated in the NWSL semifinals. And for the first time in a major world tournament, the U.S. failed to reach the Olympic semifinals, losing in the quarterfinals in Rio.

“When I started last Jan. 1, I was hoping that I would go to camp,” she said. “Now that I’m on the team, it has inspired me. We lost and that was the worst thing ever. It was a beginning. I feel thankful and hungry.”

Long’s personal coach is husband Jose Batista, a former Molloy College standout and U.S. youth international player.

After they were married in October, they went on what Long called an “insane honeymoon trip” to Spain that included a Barcelona game and training session and a UEFA Champions League match.

“It was a dream honeymoon for soccer players,” said Batista, who added that the couple found practice time. “That’s one of the things that brings us together — soccer. It’s our life. It’s what we love to do.”

Before flying to Houston to stay with Batista’s family and train, Long held six clinics at the Crestwood Country Day Camp and School in Melville on Monday and Tuesday, instructing 110 girls from 5 to 17.

Long met Elizabeth Schneid ler, the Crestwood and Long Island Futsal League Soccer Academy director, and her 13-year-old daughter, Lily, during a Make-A-Wish function at a U.S. game. Lily, who had a bone infection when she was three months old, endured several operations. When she was given the wish at 2, Lily was too young to attend a game, so it was granted last year. Some of the clinic’s proceeds went to Make-A-Wish.

“The fact that she is so hands-on with the girls makes it very special, very unique,” said Schneidler, who added that it was “a great opportunity to have such a role model from Long Island to be in front of them.”

Lily, who wore a Chicago Red Stars shirt and is a big fan of international defender Julie Johnston, was impressed with Long.

“I love that she’s from Long Island and she inspires me that I can go anywhere in the world and play soccer,” she said.

Long posed for photos and autographed pictures. Shannon Tague, 8, who hails from Long’s hometown, had her blue soccer shoes signed.

“It was really cool,” she said.

Long was happy to give something back.

“It reminds me of when I was younger,” she said. “Soccer has brought me all over the world, but you don’t want to forget where you came from and who inspired you when you were 5, 6, 7, 8. I hope they leave here and feel like they enjoyed it, learning something, and are really encouraged.”

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