The Seaford girls’ soccer team is in the midst of a big turnaround season.
The Lady Vikings have already doubled their win total from last year with a mix of experienced veterans and talented underclassmen. Third-year head coach Ken Botti has sought to create a winning culture since taking over and is pleased to see results starting to take shape with the Vikings entering October with four victories.
“It is finally starting to come together in year three,” said Botti, whose teams won two games in each of his first two seasons behind the Seaford bench. “They are good, confident kids that play well together.”
Leading Seaford’s improvement have been tri-captains Natalie Ramirez, Ari Casha and Alexa Colbin. Casha patrols the net as a junior starting goalie while senior midfielders Ramirez and Colbin create opportunities on the offensive end.
“They are helping the younger players determine what it takes to get wins,” said Botti of his captains. “It is finally piecing together and the captains are a big part of that.”
Seaford’s strong start has been keyed by its defense led by Casha, sweeper Tiffany Florez and stopper Gina Toscano. The Lady Vikings posted two shutouts in September including a 0-0 tie with Great Neck South on Sept. 16 that featured five saves from Casha.
“They mark well,” said Botti of his defenders. “Teams aren’t getting easy opportunities like in years past.”
The offense has received a spark from freshmen Nicole Kassimatis and Olivia Pearse, who both played on varsity as eighth graders and on junior varsity in seventh grade. Kassimatis has recorded six goals with Pearse also tallying six including two in a 3-2 win against Glen Cove on Sept. 26.
“They are soccer kids playing 12 months a year,” said Botti of his freshman duo. “They are ahead of the curve.”
Seaford competes in Conference-AB-VI and needs to win the league in order to qualify for the Class A playoffs. A 2-1 loss to first place Valley Stream South on Thursday creates little margin for error the rest of the way, but at 4-2-1 and in second place still gives the Vikings hope. A rematch against South in the regular season-finale at home on Oct. 19 could decide whether Seaford reaches postseason play for the first time since 2011 when it competed in Conference I.
“If we’re going to win the conference we have to take it from Valley Stream South,” Botti said. “As the season wears on the girls have to keep their eyes on the prize.”
Seaford is next in action on Wednesday against Clarke at home starting at 4:30 p.m. before back-to-back road games Friday and Saturday at Oyster Bay and Lynbrook. Botti hopes that no matter how this season finishes that 2017 lays a foundation to eventually move Seaford back up to the more competitive conferences where playoff berths are more attainable.
“Hopefully we can keep playing well and get back to a higher conference,” he said. “We’re trying to do what we have to do to work our way back up.”