Oceanside’s girls’ soccer team is enjoying one of its best seasons in school history and remains unbeaten as it enters the final week of the regular season. But because of the new playoff format, just one loss in the final three games will likely end the Lady Sailors’ postseason dreams.
Oceanside is 8-0-2 this season after its a 5-0 win at Uniondale last Friday and sit second in the Conference AA2 standings, just one half-game behind first-place Plainview, which it faces in this Friday’s regular-season finale. Last year, four teams in that conference made the playoffs, but due to a change in the playoff bracketing, only the first-place team will qualify, making the match even more crucial.
“It’s really unfortunate,” said Lady Sailors coach Marianna Winchester. “How do you say to yourself, ‘This is the best season I’ve had in 30 years and you turn around and say sorry girls, you may not make the playoffs.’ That’s the part that’s really galling me.”
The teams had a wild first meeting on Oct. 1 when Oceanside, despite getting the first goal, overcame a two-goal halftime deficit to tie the Lady Hawks 4-4 on a goal by freshman Julie Strianese with 12:58 left. Goalkeeper Mary Cecil had by far her busiest day of the season with 16 saves, including some key ones late. Sophomore Micaella Romagno had a goal and two assists.
“They are definitely the most competitive team in the group,” Winchester said of Plainview. “[Their coach] is like me, where she has multiple talent there, it’s not just one or two.”
Oceanside also needed some late heroics three days earlier, when junior Ashley Ladner scored on a penalty kick with 7:11 left to help the Lady Sailors tie Long Beach 1-1. The rematch between those schools was Wednesday, after press time.
“We weren’t focused enough and they had us in a bind,” Winchester recalled. “We had a couple of goals called back because of offsides. We weren’t picking that up fast enough.”
The Lady Sailors have dominated on both sides of the field for most of the season by outscoring their opposition 50-6 while posting seven shutouts, including the last three contests at Westbury, Hempstead and Uniondale. The offense has been widespread with 13 different players chipping in goals and 16 getting points overall.
Ladner and senior co-captain Melina Serrao both lead the team with 11 goals after the latter scored three times on Friday, and Strianese has emerged as a clutch player with three of her four goals coming over the last three contests.
The defense has been led by senior center back Angelina Fucile and freshman Lily Johnson. “She’s amazing,” Winchester said of Johnson. “No one gets by her.”
Winchester is hoping for another fast start on Friday and avoid going into a lull that put them behind in the previous matchup. “We can’t go into this high-low motion,” she said. “We have to be consistent and stay at that high adrenaline throughout because if you make one mistake, it’s going to cost you.”