Seaford targets conference top spot


Building on last year’s turnaround season, Seaford girls’ soccer will lean on an experienced defense to help take the team to the next level this fall.

The Lady Vikings have an all-senior defensive backfield led by goalkeeper Arianna Casha, a fourth-year varsity player and captain who earned All-Division and conference goalie of the year honors in 2017.

Casha rises to any occasion and makes tough saves look easy, said coach Ken Botti. “We’re certainly relying on Arianna back there to spearhead the defense and really lead and hold together that back four,” he added.

Seaford’s defense aims to possess rather than clear the ball upfield and marks opposing players, a scheme executed best by two hard-nosed starters in sweeper Tiffany Flores and stopper Gina Toscana. Flores, who transferred from Freeport last year, is fearless in the face of challenges, a good decision-maker and technically sound; Toscana is a shutdown defender who typically covers the opposition’s top player.

Outside backs Caitlin Costello and Alexis Frintzilas are another pair of gritty defenders who cover their assignments well.

Senior captain Alexa Garcia serves as a hybrid center midfielder, deciding which opponents to mark and ensuring her teammates play good team defense, while also helping to set up the offense.

Sophomore center midfielder Olivia Pearse will anchor Botti’s 4-4-2 offensive attack. An All-County selection last year, Pearse will once again try to put the Lady Vikings in positions to score points.   

“Olivia is a dynamic player who is great with the ball at her feet and takes on players,” Botti said. “She scores goals. She sets up goals. There’s really no weakness to her game.”

Sophomore forwards Niki Kassimatis and Ashley Sidoti will mirror each other as they play up top.

“We’re hoping that they’re really going to cause some fits for defenses and score some goals,” Botti said of the duo.

To help bolster the bench, he recruited two promising, athletic freshmen in Alexandra Leggio and Emma Williamson, who will substitute in myriad positions depending on needs and situations.

Botti took the helm of a struggling program four years ago. He’s worked to change his players’ collective mindset, and after two two-win seasons, he led the squad to a 7-4-1 in-league record in Conference AB5 last year. This year his goal is to wrest the conference crown from Valley Stream South and thereby earn the league’s only playoff spot.

While the Lady Vikings will face the uncertainty of three new conference teams in Carey, Hewlett and Roslyn, Botti regards VSS as the team to beat in a league that includes Oyster Bay.  

Seaford opened the season with two non-league road trips to Bellmore-JFK and Plainedge before hosting VSS this Friday.

“That’s a very important early season league game for us,” said Botti of VSS. “They won the conference last year, so we need to keep pace with them, if not beat them.”