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Tietjen twins now inseparable as Hall of Famers

Sisters who starred at Huntington High School and at UConn are inductees to the Long Island Soccer Player Hall of Fame.

New York Power's Margaret Tietjen during A game

New York Power's Margaret Tietjen during A game at Mitchel Athletic Complex on April 19, 2003. Photo Credit: Freelancer/Richard Slattery

They are just about as close as twin sisters can be.

While driving to and from their college soccer coaching jobs in Connecticut, Jennifer Tietjen-Prozzo and Margaret Tietjen Rodriguez talk on the phone every day about their lives, families and their favorite sport.

"We're constantly talking about the game, each other's teams," Jennifer said. "What do you think I should do here? What's new in practice? If we go a day without talking, we send a joke: ‘What happened? Did your phone break?’  "

"My husband is always curious about it," Margaret added. "How do you still have stuff to talk about?"

They had plenty more to talk about — in person — as they were among five honorees scheduled to be inducted into the Long Island Soccer Player Hall of Fame Feb. 23 at the Huntington Hilton in Melville.

"The Tietjen twins represent the female players that started out on Long Island," Hall of Fame founder Kevin McCrudden said. "They had success with the [LI] Lady Riders. They are wonderful examples for young women today to persevere and to work hard to become better players."

They were members of the Cold Spring Harbor Thumpers, who won several Long Island Junior Soccer League and Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association titles. They led Huntington High School to a state championship while earning co-state players of the year. They became integral performers at the University of Connecticut, Margaret at forward, Jennifer at midfield.

Now 41, the sisters live 20 minutes apart. Margaret recently completed her first season as head women's coach at UConn. Jennifer is an assistant at Central Connecticut State.

As best friends since birth, any sibling rivalry has been reduced to one week a year when their schools meet.

"We go a little quiet," Jennifer said. "Our conversations become a little bit vague. We don't want to give away too much."

Last year UConn overcame a 2-0 halftime deficit to register a 3-2 triumph.

"That's the only day I root against UConn because being a UConn alumnus, I still root for them,” Jennifer said. “We're competitive and I want to win. This year's game was fantastic. I won the first half, she won the second half."

"We're definitely competitive and we like to rub it into each other's faces if we won or lost," Margaret said. "I've been on the winning end the last few years. Jen will talk about how she was up at halftime. It doesn't matter. We still won."

In 2001, they wound up apart for the first time playing in the Women's United Soccer Association. Jennifer was drafted by the Philadelphia Charge, Margaret by the San Diego Spirit.

"The hardest part of that transition was splitting up our wardrobe," Margaret said with a laugh. "Who got the good jeans? Who got that dress? That was the most traumatic part. Now and then you'd walk into the closet and you'd see her name written on the label of the jeans. I guess she's claiming those. I've got to claim something."

Being apart for three years gave them an opportunity to grow on their own.

"It was hard to be apart but it helped us shape who we are as individuals as opposed to being the twins,” Margaret said.  “I learned a little bit more about myself. We figured things out."

If they had one regret about Saturday, it was the absence of their father John, the Thumpers coach, who died on  Christmas Eve.

"It was a tough Christmas," Jennifer said. “This award will be difficult to accept without him being there. He played such a huge role in our soccer life and careers on Long Island. That was his passion— Long Island soccer."

The other inductees

Carlos Mendes -- A graduate of The Wheatley School, the Mineola native played 10 years with the Red Bulls and Columbus (MLS) and captained three Cosmos NASL championship teams before retiring in 2017. Entering his second year as Cosmos head coach after earning NPSL coach of the year honors.

Mark Semioli -- A member of the San Francisco Greek-Americans, who captured the 1994 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame. The Hauppauge H.S. standout was a defender with the LA Galaxy and NY/NJ MetroStars for six years. Chairman of the history department at Kent Place School in Scarsdale, N.Y.

Tommy Lips -- Another former Hauppauge H.S. star, he enjoyed a nine-year pro career, including stints with FC St. Gallen (Switzerland), New England Revolution, L.I. Rough Riders and Puerto Rico national team. Coaches the Smithtown West H.S. boys soccer team (2013 Suffolk Class AA title).

-          Michael Lewis

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